Fashion is a business prone to change, but for all its unpredictability, the fashion industry can usually be relied upon to translate the moment into merchandise. It has now jumped onto the ecology bandwagon, putting a hitherto unseen emphasis on the word natural.
Designers in the west are enthusiastically incorporating jungle and animal prints in their collections. Contemporary designers like Rifat Ozbek, Peter Ingwersen, The House of Versace and many others are leading this Back to Nature brigade. The earthy colours and fabrics produced organically or made of recycled materials, all point to ethnical and eco-friendly fashions getting increasingly popular around the world.
For example, Ingwersen uses cotton grown in Uganda. “I am supporting farms in Uganda which produce organic cotton.” A part of the money earned from these clothes is used to fight against diseases such as AIDS and malaria in Uganda. Ingwersen is not alone; the Japanese floral and batik prints of Rifat Ozbek, the orange cottons of Versace along with the fabrics made out of jute and rope embellishments show that worldwide, fashions are going green.
Indian Designers Go Green
Even in India, designers are going for the green look. Natural fabrics like silk and cotton have become the perennial pick of many Indian designers.
Chauhan who designs a large part of his couture with a particular kind of silk found only in Bhagalpur says that it is very eco-friendly and ‘non violent’ (in the sense that it is one of the very rare varieties where the silkworm is not killed). Even the fast rising Namrata Joshipura’s outfits have started looking very eco-friendly. The other big gun creating eco-fashions is Rohit Bal (now recuperating after a cardiac attack). He is particularly fond of using organic cotton for his designs and is also partial to silk.
Earlier this February the theme of the Kolkata fashion and lifestyle week was eco-fashions and designers who participated included leading names like J.J. Valaya, Rocky S, Neeta Lulla, Satya Paul, Anita Dongre, Rina Dhaka and more. Most of the designers showcased their creations made from earthy materials like jute, coir, bamboo and silk. That in a way showcases a trend which is leaving an impression on young couturiers.
One such designer is Delhi-based Chirag Joshi, whose clothes too have a distinct ecological edge. “For me white, beige and shades of black are essential colours that I use extensively in my clothes,” she says, “but I make it a point to use only natural dyes. My other green initiative is the use of organic cotton as a fabric. I also like to use silk threads and jute in my creations.”
Or take the case of Ayesha Depala the young designer who shuttles between Mumbai, Dubai and London and designs clothes for celebrities like Kareena Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. She too is on a high when it comes to eco fashions. Ayesha says, she expresses herself best when she uses natural earth fibres like linen, silk and cotton. Till sometime back her choice of fabric was khadi and she worked closely with traditional weavers. She has now blended natural khadi with a cellulosic fibre and the result is an eco-friendly fabric.
A growing number of fashion accessories, ranging from handbags to shoes and from fragrances to cosmetics too are becoming eco-friendly and finding a niche market. Even as the sales of herbal cosmetics are picking up, the perfumes too are flying off the shelves. There is now an emphasis on ecology inspired fragrances using natural smells like those of sea water, cedar wood, plums, peaches, cinnamon and vanilla.
Whether it is clothes or accessories, it would seem that fashions are showcasing the socio economic changes around the world.