A number of stylists are exploring ways to recycle textile waste to reduce environmental discomfort. As middle-class consumer income grows, India’s per capita spending on clothes will increase to Rs 6,400 by 2023 from Rs 3,900 in 2018, the Indian Chamber of Commerce has estimated.
A 2019 Mckinsey report says India will become the most attractive consumer market for apparel outside the Western world and will be worth $ 59.3 billion in 2022. Fast fashion growth is likely to increase textile waste as well. in India, experts say.
What is fast fashion?
There has been a shift in the fashion industry, which previously launched new collections in two seasons: fall / winter and spring / summer. Since the 2000s, international fashion brands H&M and Zara have started launching collections every week. The term “fast fashion” has been associated with the high rate of fashion consumption. The term entered India alongside the two brands six to seven years ago, Rekha Rawat, associate director of Sustainable Industries Practice at cKinetics, told IndiaSpend.
As a result of fast fashion, a huge amount of unsold clothing ends up in landfills, creating a cycle of contamination, she said.
“All the elements of fast fashion – excessive production, low quality, competitive prices – have a detrimental impact on the environment and on the people involved in production,” said Rawat.
How does it affect the environment?
The fashion industry produces about 53 million tons of fiber annually, of which 70% is wasted, IndiaSpend said in a report. According to the UK-based charity Ellen MacArthur Foundation, fiber production will reach 160 million tonnes by 2050. Less than 1% of the fiber is reused by the fashion industry to make new clothes, impacting negative on the environment, the foundation said.
The global fashion industry is also a major consumer of water, IndiaSpend cited a report from the United Nations Environment Program, adding that it took 3,781 liters of water to make a pair of jeans.
An Indian Express report said wasted clothes dumped in deserts like the Atacama in Chile take years to biodegrade.
Sustainable practices are slowly catching up in the fashion industry, with some brands using waste recycling to make textiles that produce no further waste.
“There is always room to reuse sarees and create them in an Indo-Western dress,” Nitya Chandrashekhar, founder of Mumbai-based Anya Designs, told IndiaSpends.
Designers also need to be cautious and use responsible methods that don’t cause harm to the environment, designer Shruti Sancheti told Indian Express. “Sustainable practices, such as using chemical-free dyes or at least azo dyes, reducing the consumption of environmentally harmful raw materials, upcycling, fair wages, non-toxic working conditions, preserving crafts and slow fashion and creating fluid, versatile seasonal looks are the need of the hour, “she said.
Around 16 major retail brands in India, including Shoppers’ Stop, Lifestyle, Future Group and Aditya Birla Retail, had committed to sourcing a portion of their total consumption using raw materials and processes by 2025.
(Modified by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)