Old chatai to chips packet: How homegrown designers are redefining sustainability - Hindustan Times
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Old chatai to chips packet: How homegrown designers are redefining sustainability

May 22, 2024 03:54 PM IST

Ever imagined sporting a shirt made of an old chatai or sunglasses made with chips packet? Homegrown brands share their eccentric ideas on sustainable fashion.

At a time when fast fashion brands are accused of unethical practices, like the recent investigation by Earthsight NGO, that calls out H&M and Zara for illegal deforestation, land-grabbing and violence in Brazilian Cerrado, it is pertinent that we support more sustainable brands.

A select few brands that are visualising out-of-the-box and picking up the most deviant pieces to design their clothes.
A select few brands that are visualising out-of-the-box and picking up the most deviant pieces to design their clothes.

But what are the ways in which a designer or a fashion label can contribute to circular fashion? The first thing that comes to mind is recycling textile waste — scrap pieces that are discarded during the making of a garment.

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To do their bit for the environment, every other design house has now taken this route of upcycling. But there are only a select few brands that are visualising out-of-the-box and picking up the most deviant pieces to design their clothes.

From using discarded tyre tubes to old chatai mats in creating unique designs, these homegrown fashion labels are getting more creative with their upcycling approach.

Rogue rehash 

Delhi-based label Graine repurposes rickshaw tyres to create a design element in their clothing. “Our current obsession is to repurpose the discarded tyre tubes in the wake of hundreds of cycle rickshaws that were thrown to dumps,” share sisters Mannat Sethi and Harshna Kandhari of Graine.

They continue, “Having worked closely with the clusters in Lucknow, an understanding the form driven capabilities of the chikankari craftsmanship, we have given it a new form with contemporary motifs and playful artworks. Also, working with clusters in Varanasi, the Graine awake collection has also managed to transformed age-old textiles in non-traditional silhouettes.”

For designer Saurabh Maurya of Margn, crafts have to do more with the intention and the way it is made. “A lot of ideas of reusing things actually comes from the way I was raised up in rural parts of India.” shares Maurya, and continues, “When you don’t have resources, you try to make the best use of whatever is available, and thus preserving things comes naturally to me. It has led us to explore crafts such as weaving of chatais and upcycling sack bags to make our packaging, among other things. So, I think everything revolves around the ideas of protection, preservation and shelter.”

Echoing similar sentiments, designer Pratyush Kumar of Pieux also talks about using discarded carpet yarns to create a new textile called cartex. He shares, “We have been using production waste and surplus waste to treaty garments and do applique and embroidery work.”

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