For a fashion designer, this may not be the smartest thing to ask but on World Environment Day, I will—does the world really need more clothes?
Just put the numbers together and you will ask the same. With the world population nearing 8 billion and an average person owning 100 pieces of clothing (conservatively speaking), we have already burdened the earth too much. And this number makes us, the fashion industry, the world's second largest polluter after oil. I feel personally responsible for the impact of our processes and strive to reduce it.
My environment amazes me every day. This is where I draw my ideas from. It would be a shame if my work was responsible for ruining it.
The first step for a better future is to realise the waste that comes out of our own house and work studios. Once I comprehended this I used materials like my mother's bindi sheet waste, drinking straws, ripped stockings, polythene bags and combined these with Indian textiles to give these components a new life.
Each season, the "no longer usable" products and industrial waste are taken and researched upon. They are then broken into surface textures and embroideries to be used on the garments made for the collection.
My last collection was inspired by the earth itself—its textures and topography, and the beautiful coexistence of the world's natural architecture with manmade marvels. My environment amazes me every day. This is where I draw my ideas from. It would be a shame if my work was responsible for ruining it. I aspire to create a work model which in fact builds an ideal world that can continue to inspire for generations ahead.
I love my work and I can't imagine myself doing anything different. I believe that creating is my purpose. But what good a designer would I be if I didn't do it with compassion and consciousness?
"Sustainable" isn't a genre of fashion but it is a way of life. Practically, I have to admit that it isn't easy to make fashion a completely sustainable industry within this generation. But we could set this movement into motion for the future.
The concept of fast fashion needs to be slowed down, and this is a matter of urgency. It is like feeding the earth with junk food that it cannot digest. It will eventually throw out an ugly mess that will become the earth's new topography for the next generation.
It is important that we all get more wear out of our wardrobes. Fashion should [not be about] acquiring more and more heavy pieces that can't be repeated.
I look back on my life and I am grateful that my generation has seen the earth as it is today. I've been brought up in simplicity. My mother worked hard and valued the things we had. She repeated her clothes. And after she had enough wear out of them, she would still put them to some alternate use—like reusing them to make her own kids' clothes. She gave me the core values on the basis of which I function even at work. As a brand, we are very conscious about quality, design and fit so that the clothes you invest in become an indispensable part of your wardrobe. Apart from preservation, upcycling of pre-owned textile is also a part of our couture ideology.
It is important that we all get more wear out of our wardrobes. Fashion should become more about styling with separates rather than acquiring more and more heavy pieces that can't be repeated. If each person firmly believes in doing even the littlest bit towards the environment, the bigger picture will start looking better from now.