Designer Purvi Doshi uses only handcrafted and hand-woven textiles and natural, organic colours.
Saleha Irfan, Senior Sub-Editor/Reporter
Vegan, eco-friendly and sustainable are not words you would associate with fashion but they are all the rage now. The fashion industry is said to be the one of the largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry.
From untreated toxic waste water directly dumped into the rivers to huge quantities of water being used in the dyes, fashion comes at a huge cost to the environment. Other than these, a lot of toxic chemicals are used to grow cotton; synthetic garments like polyester or nylon, when washed, release microfibers, thus increasing plastic in the oceans; textile waste is thrown in the landfill or incinerated; and synthetic, non-biodegradable fibres can take up to 200 years to decompose.
However, since people are becoming more environmentally friendly, many fashion designers are switching to a cruelty-free, eco-friendly and sustainable futures. On the high street, designer labels like Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, Vivienne Westwood, Rag & Bone, Zara and H&M, among others, are making choices which help them work towards a greener world.
Purva Doshi is one such designer who is visiting the UAE to showcase her designs at the 25th edition of the NUMAISH exhibition. The exhibition, held on Sept.27 and 28 at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Dubai, is hosting Doshi’s eco-sensitive, vegan and PETA-approved fashion brand.
Doshi’s brand, which has previously showcased at New York Fashion Week and is a regular at Lakme Fashion Week, believes in cruelty-free fashion by using only handcrafted and hand-woven textiles and natural, organic colours.
Doshi spoke to Gulf Today about what it means to be sustainable in the fashion industry and why she decided to switch to it.
What does it mean to be sustainable in the fashion industry?
Sustainability cannot be defined by one thing, it has many different aspects of sustainability. For me, sustainability is something which is made in our country, something which generates employment, something which doesn’t involve any pollution or killing of any other living being.
When did you decide to take the plunge into sustainability and why?
Everyone has a U-turn in their life and my U-turn happened six years back when I saw a video on how silk is made; I saw the cruelty done to the silkworms by which I was moved. I gathered my full staff and we decided that we will not use silk anymore.
After that I realised that there is lot more to fashion than silk. After a lot of reading and research, I came across the pollution created by dyeing and low employment in a labour surplus country like India. Every person has small goals in their lives but after one point you want to do the right thing, contribute to the society, and do something which is ethical. And that’s why I took the plunge into sustainability.
Sustainability in fashion is in the textile and in the processes; that does not make any changes in the trends. Nandita Das wore my khadi outfit and walked on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. For me, sustainability is a belief and not a trend.
Tell us about your latest collection and the inspiration behind it.
Our latest collection was Wagad - A Kala Cotton Story. The collection was made using the purest and the rarest species of organic cotton named Kala cotton and using the most ancient weaves from the Kutch region of Gujarat. These weaves were traditionally used to make rugs, carpets and sarees; from there we brought them to mainstream fashion. The inspiration was the tribes of Kutch; we have been inspired by them for a very long period of time and we can still create lot of creations with the same inspiration.
Is it true that sustainable clothing is difficult to wear?
Sustainable clothing is not difficult to wear but difficult to maintain as they are hand spun and delicate. Due to the use of natural colours, they might bleed too. The whole wash and care changes so that could be difficult initially, but it’s most comfortable to wear them.
Are there any challenges you face as a cruelty-free fashion designer?
There are no challenges. I absolutely love what I am working on and if you really want to work on cruelty-free fashion you will find options for everything. There are options for silk, wool, leather, everything. It’s just your thinking which needs to be changed.
However, by not using silk, we were not able to cater to the biggest market of wedding outfits. But recently we have launched a bridal collection named 8th Vow which is made from khadi. Maybe people will take some time to accept silk-free bridal clothing but surely they will start understanding the importance of wearing sacred and clean clothes on their sacred day.
What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement was taking this U-turn towards sustainability, but now it is successfully maintaining it for six years without any consequence to sales.
What are some of the awards you have won?
We have won many awards, but two of them are very close to my heart: The Women of Excellence Award by FICCI FLO and Designer with Compassion by PETA India.
What future do you see for sustainable fashion in Dubai?
I think not only in Dubai but everywhere people need to understand that the planet does not belong to them. Once that understanding is developed, they will automatically understand the importance of sustainability and that it is the future.
Where can we buy your clothes?
They can buy us from www.purvidoshi.com. We also have our store in Ahmedabad and we source at a lot of stores all over India.
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