Bollywood and its take on sustainable fashion

by parineeti lal

When the subject has anything to do with fashion, can Bollywood be far behind?

Several celebrities have come forward to underline the importance of sustainable fashion in recent times. Vidya Balan who is known for her taste in sarees and for being in the forefront of backing social causes had created quite a noise during the promotions of  Shakuntala Devi.

In lieu of her recent film, Vidya Balan has been posting promotional photographs on her Instagram page, in her wide array of delicately handcrafted sarees and kurtas that offer the perfect blend of modern and traditional. As an advocate for the ‘saree life’, Balan is also involved in the promotion of local artisans and designers that are a part of the rich cultural heritage of India. In a video, Balan had shown how to convert an old blouse into a mask. “Ek purani sari ko kaat kar bahut saare masks ban sakte hain,” she had written.

Then here you can see the producer of the film Roohi, Boney Kapoor spotted with his daughter Janhvi at the screening of the film.

What caught the attention was his mask. While seeing one wearing it might make for a common sight, what made Kapoor stand out was the fact his was made from a kurta! One gets to know since that is what is written on it.

In the pictures, he can be seen in his signature loose white kurta and matching trousers. His mask, too, was matching and on it was written, “I used to be a kurta”.

He too has joined the sustainability brigade of Bollywood!

Several people from Bollywood have shown their support at the peak of the Corona lockdowns.

See what  Masaba Gupta – Designer and Neena Gupta’s daughter has to say regarding sustainable fashion.

Over the years, several designers have batted for the need to transition to sustainable fashion. In an interview, designer Masaba Gupta had stated: “Sustainability will become a big, big topic and people and brands will start buying and investing in things that are more sustainable, benefit the environment and are better for them as well.”

This has exploded in a big way during the pandemic, as many made and are making masks out of their old, clean clothes.  In an interview she said, “Sustainable fashion needs time, effort and money. People have to understand that sustainability requires sustainability as well. Fashion is a business, and needs to be sustainable on its own first to be able to allow sustainability into its universe”. She added, “While fashion and style have always kept me going, my creative expression comes from the things that I’m truly passionate about”.

“What is your personal take on sustainable fashion?” She was asked.

“I see people on social media calling to boycott brands that don’t focus on sustainability, etc, but do you know what steps they are taking in order to be sustainable? We did a collection with the UN where we tried to ban plastic, and we as a brand are trying to be plastic-free by the end of 2022 at least, but these things cost money. Why are big brands not doing this?

It’s because it takes time, effort and money. The funny thing is you just cannot turn around tomorrow and say I am only going to use organic fabric because sometimes in using that you may actually be damaging the environment. We are all talking about sustainability today but still throwing away our masks at the airport or our plastic containers, so where is sustainability there? It is a pipe dream and if you achieve it, great, but if you can’t, then you have to find ways to be sustainable on a smaller scale.

Here are some others who have been displaying their like for brands that are very much into sustainable fashion.

More of the Bollywood Gang

Bollywood celebrities are trend-setters, Influencers and everything that they wear becomes a style statement. The steady interest of celebrities in organic fashion has boosted their demand in the market, thereby introducing fashion divas to a world of khadi and cotton clothing. While the world over, sustainable fashion champions fair trade, local techniques of production, and reuse and upcyling; in India, an ancient tradition of craft has moved focus to the revival of textiles.

Richa Chadha, the talented actress has always been an advocate for an organic lifestyle, made clear by her pride in wearing sustainable labels like Raw Mango at various events.

Taapsee Pannu has always believed in wearing what you are comfortable in and it is reflected in the beautiful labels she has worn over the past years, reflecting her style is the organic way to go!

Manto actress Rasika Dugal has always been one who has had a key eye for sustainable labels, being spotted wearing gorgeous organic pieces at events. The talented actress will also be walking the ramp for an organic brand, Vriksh at the Lakme Fashion Week this year.

Katrina Kaif had an eco friendly wardrobe for ‘Jagga Jasoos’. Almost all the clothes were bought from ‘The Reformation‘ based in Los Angeles. ‘The Reformation’ is a sustainable fashion brand that up cycles and recycles clothes to make beautiful outfits from them. They make extensive efforts to reduce the overall carbon footprint by using oil based fabrics, dead stock fabrics and repurposed vintage clothing.

Sanjukta Dutta often designs clothing for Preity Zinta. She specializes in weaving mekhela chador, which is the traditional Assamese women’s garment. Every mekhela chador is redesigned intricately by specialized mekhela chador artisans. The raw materials used in the making are a particular lineage of worms which are only found in a particular village in Assam.

Others in support of environmental issues and sustainable fashion

When it comes to environmental issues, the world over people are in unison that it is a concern that each of us should address in our small or big ways for an overall impact of significance.  Several Bollywood celebrities have also been doing their bit for the sake of the environment, and to make this planet a better place for everyone. Here are some of them:

Dia Mirza

Dia Mirza is an Indian model, actress, producer, and social worker who predominantly works in Hindi films. Mirza won the title of Miss Asia Pacific International in 2000. She made her acting debut with Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein. She subsequently featured in films including Dus, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Sanju. UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for India Dia Mirza actively supports conscious environmentalism. She has actively participated in habitat preservation, wildlife protection, beach-cleaning initiatives, among several other things. “It’s important that we protect the health of the environment, because at the end, we have only one planet to live on and if we don’t care for it, we suffer,” she told Femina in an interview.

Adorable Diya Mirza walked the ramp for Swedish fashion retail giant H&M’s sustainable fashion presentation at the Amazon India Fashion Week in 2017. H&M partnered with FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India) to launch their conscious exclusive collection. Furthermore, Diya Mirza stressed on the importance of reusing and recycling garments for sustainable fashion. The best part about  H&M’s fashion line is the new wave sustainable material BIONIC®– a recycled polyester made from plastic shoreline waste.

Raveena Tandon Thadani

Raveena Tandon is an Indian actress, model and producer. Daughter of director Ravi Tandon, she was born and raised in Mumbai. She started her career in modelling and later made her acting debut in the action film Patthar Ke Phool, which won her the Filmfare Award for New Face of the Year. A champion of environmental causes, Raveena Tandon Thadani has been vocal about preserving to save planet Earth. “Cars, fuel emissions, factory waste, garbage choked rivers, plastic waste … are all our problems! Everything’s counted, slowly we are destroying this planet. Let’s be aware and in our own way, try to recycle and preserve,” she was quoted as saying in a media report.

Alia Bhatt

Alia Bhatt is an actress and singer of Indian origin and British citizenship, who works in Hindi-language films. One of the highest-paid actresses of India, as of 2019, her accolades include four Filmfare Awards.
Alia Bhatt donned the cap of a waste warrior last year, and pledged to ban  plastic from her life as part of conscious environmentalism. “BeatPasticPollution by switching to steel or glass bottles today! Plastic bottles take 450 years or more to decompose, harming us and our environment. I’m now one step closer towards purging plastic from my life. Hope you guys will make the switch too!#LetsCoexist  (sic),” she had urged her fans on social media.

Nandita Das

Nandita Das is an Indian actor and director. She has acted in over 40 feature films in ten different languages. Das won accolades for numerous performances, including in Fire, Earth, Bawandar, Kannathil Muthamittal, Azhagi, Kamli, and Before The Rains. An active environmentalist at heart, Nandita Das has been contributing greatly towards creating awareness for rainwater harvesting. She has also been vocal on issues like gender equality and colour-biases in Indian society.

Gul Panag

Gul Panag is an Indian actress, voice actress, model, and former beauty queen who competed in the Miss Universe pageant. Panag began her career in Bollywood with the 2003 film Dhoop. Since then, she has worked in films like Jurm and the TV series Kashmeer. To do her bit for the society and nature, Gul Panag switched to electric car to resist air pollution and emissions from vehicles. “I think it’s important to make small changes in our lives and those of us who have influence, I think we should never lose an opportunity to influence other people positively towards climate change and the environment,” Gul Panag was quoted as saying. She is actively involved with Col. Shamsher Singh Foundation, which was founded by her, to address issues like effective employment of natural energy resources, sanitation and waste disposal.

Rahul Bose

Rahul Bose (born 27 July 1967) is an Indian film actor, director, screenwriter, social activist, and rugby player. Bose has appeared in Bengali films such as Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Kalpurush, Anuranan, Antaheen, Laptop and The Japanese Wife. Being the one of the first few celebrities from Bollywood to become the Oxfam Global ambassador in 2007, Rahul Bose has been an active voice against climate change, global warming and other environmental mishaps. He closely works with a cluster of social, environmental organizations, and also has his own NGO that works diligently towards making this world a better place.

John Abraham

John Abraham (born 17 December 1972) is an Indian film actor, film producer and former model who appears in Hindi-language films. After modelling for numerous advertisements and companies, he made his Bollywood debut with Jism (2003), which earned him the Filmfare Best Debut Award nomination. John Abraham quit meat to strengthen his cause against animal cruelty. Apart from his extensive work for animals, especially strays, John had also joined hands with Power Light A Village campaign in the past, which aims at providing solar-powered electricity to villages.

Ajay Devgn

Vishal Veeru Devgan, known professionally as Ajay Devgn, is an Indian film actor, director and producer. He is widely considered as one of the most popular and influential actors of Hindi cinema, who has appeared in over a hundred Hindi films. Ajay Devgn does his bit by encouraging eco-friendly ways of energy generation. He aided in setting up of a solar power project in Gujarat’s Patan district, and is believed to be working on a similar project in Rajasthan.

Abhishek Bachchan

Abhishek Bachchan is an Indian film actor and producer known for his work in Hindi films. Part of the Bachchan family, he is the son of actors Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan. In 2012, Abhishek Bachchan was honoured with the Green Globe award for his efforts to fight climate change. “I believe the youth of our country is very powerful and sure about things it has to do. It is they who can bring about a major difference in tackling these climates issues,” he was quoted as saying in a media report.

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan (is an Indian film actor, film producer, television host, occasional playback singer and former politician. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian cinema. During the 1970s–1980s, he was the most dominant actor in the Indian movie scene. Bachchan was born to the Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and his wife, the social activist Teji Bachchan.

Amitabh Bachchan has been associated with several government-run schemes and campaigns, which aim at creating awareness towards environmental causes. Every year, he also marks Earth Hour by keeping the lights of his house shut for one hour. He has also encouraged people in rural India, through several on-ground and digital initiatives, to use kitchen waste to turn it into compost, to avoid using harmful fertilisers.

How has Unnati Silks been practicing sustainable fashion?

Supports slow fashion – Unnati Silks has been associated with handlooms since four decades. In the production of handloom fabrics, the pace of production is much slower than the chains of yardage produced on power looms. Hence it cannot over-produce or stock beyond a limit because handlooms take time to weave and each offering is given due devotion not as in assembly lines. Indirectly it advocates slow fashion.

Use of eco-friendly colors for most fabrics  –  Many of the handlooms make use of natural colors and eco-friendly synthetics which are not polluting to the environment.  Unnati Silks has always cared about environmental issues and taken as many steps as possible to see that degradation directly or indirectly is avoided to the extent possible.

The use of Natural fibres – Handlooms are Indian ethnic and mostly from natural fibres such as silk, cotton, jute, blends etc.  Synthetics have been included in the last decade or so due to market requirements but still handlooms rule the roost.

No animal exploitationUnnati Silks has a team filled with animal lovers and hence does not support anything that exploits animals nor uses animals for the fabrics that are provided.

No human exploitation eitherUnnati Silks has a deep bonding and long term association with ethnic weavers and craftsmen and their families from across India since 1980. In fact even during the corona lockdown there was both empathy and provision of work for sustenance to get them through the difficult times.

Transparency is a code of honour – At Unnati Silks all dealings are above board. Questions are entertained, queries are answered to satisfaction, the mode of operations is known to all customers – simple, straightforward and easy to comprehend. The after sales support team is always available online during office hours and calls and emails are replied to promptly.

Social responsibility is part of its ethos

  • Unnati Silks believes being part of society it has social responsibilities too.
  • Summer camps for children, is a regular feature conducted since the past 27 years.
  • Management programmes on various subjects have been conducted at various premier institutions across the country.
  • Taking up social causes, one such recent event has been an elocution competition conducted for colleges of all Universities across Telangana state. The theme “Cancer, its effects and solutions to prevent the onset of Cancer” was conducted with gusto and participation of the stakeholders at these Universities and a social message on how bad habits and a fast-paced lifestyle can cause a deadly disease like Cancer was highlighted.

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