Ethical Fashion: Let's Start Talking

I still recall the month of September, as a child, a visitor with a treasure trove of sarees wrapped up in a fabric, came knocking at the door. As he was welcomed, he settled himself on the lobby floor, unpacking the bundle, revealing the most beautiful of hues and textures. We’d sit for hours, feeling textures of cotton and silk, my mother closely examining the weaves, asking questions, as I’d occasionally flit off with a particular piece, wrapping it around me and appreciating it in front of a mirror. As I grew, ‘Saree Dada’ stopped visiting, and my closet corners, earmarked for sarees, were now cluttered with shopping bags from various brands.

With the millennium setting in, Global brands came knocking, end of season sales caught our eyes, and in the scramble to pick up the latest styles, clothes, and accessories became easily disposable. As we grew up in the globalized world, dressing up came to be associated more and more with ‘vanity’. However, lately, the conversation around ethical fashion has picked up, and here is why we need to talk start asking questions and carry on the conversation.

Who made your clothes?
Exploiting the availability of cheap labour in countries like India, China and Bangladesh, outsourcing has become the prime strategy for fast fashion brands all over the globe.
The shiny looking glass buildings all across NCR, often house dingy garment factories, where a population of migrant workers from across various states, look down at their static desks and mechanically go on to stitch, cut and sew the little black dresses, bomber jackets and denim shorts we buy off the racks in air-conditioned malls.

What are we paying for?
The grim reality; the true cost of cheap fast fashion, is kept hidden. In fact, the ‘procurement’ benefits are often not passed on to customers from these countries. While a shopper in the US, pays $20 $ for a dress procured from India, a customer in India would be buying be buying the dress ‘Made in China’ for a little more than the counterpart in the US. (taking into account standard of living and exchange rates).

Why buy Ethical?
Buying from the ‘Saree dada’ who would make yearly visits to our home, also meant getting to know exactly where each silk comes from, where each weave is mastered, cloth dyed and paint created.
Each piece then comes to represent a sustainable ecosystem, where cotton/ silk is grown and reared keeping in mind the environmental consequences, each weaver identifies with his creation, and exercises control over his work day and each wearer cherishes her Dhakai Jamdani, Phulia cotton and Assam silk.

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