Thread of Sustainability: Crafting Fashion for Conscious Community and Conservation

Thread of Sustainability: Crafting Fashion for Conscious Community and Conservation

Nagma Sahi Ansari (National Institute of Fashion Technology, India), Anannya Deb Roy (National Institute of Fashion Technology, India) and Sharmistha Banerjee (University of Calcutta, India)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2728-3.ch009

Abstract

This chapter aims to look into the current practices of fashion production and consumption and argues for a sustainable model. This model advocates the need of conscious creation and consumption, mindful connection with the community, and conservation of the ecology. It opens up conversations about fetishistic attitudes vs. sustainable practices and how production and consumption behaviors are manufactured in postmodern society. With interpretative epistemological stance, this chapter follows qualitative research methodology to develop an alternative model of fashion production and consumption. This alternative model, ‘C3 Model of Art of Fashion', is the result of a qualitative study conducted amongst artisans, consumers, and entrepreneurs of Kantha.
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Introduction

The twenty first century neologism, “You are what you buy!” has tethered its hook on the postmodernist society looming large in its fundamentalist capitalism. When Danielle Todd (2011) wrote about postmodern consumption drawing upon how popular culture both manufactures consent for fetishistic attitudes and cries foul for commoditization of culture; we were on the verge of another turn in information age. It paved way for the democratization of media and social networking websites, which in turn recreated a parallel narrative of presence and purchase. Next was the introduction of algorithmic prediction (based on previous viewing/interest) as a booster for marketing in these digital spaces. It is not uncommon to find haunting recommendations for product purchase on social media networking platforms (SNS). What’s more? We are caught unawares between a pattern of conspicuous consumption and materialistic fetishism. The result of which is driven by capitalistic forces of production: of commodity and related waste. The fashion industry only comes second to oil industry in being the largest polluter globally (Szokan, 2016). About 5000 gallons of water waste is generated in creating a pair of denims and a T-shirt. Farming of cotton itself creates around 24% of insecticides and 11% of pesticides, despite using only 3% of the world’s arable land. China, which is leading the clothing manufacturing market alone, generates 2.5 Billion tons of wastewater annually on an average; one person discards about 70 pounds in clothing waste (Edgexpo, 2019).

Textiles industry is considered as the second most pollutant industry after oil (Szokan, 2016). It is a highly water intensive and water pollutant industry (Quantis and ClimateWorks, 2018). According to the study (Quantis and Climate Works, 2018) based on data of 2016, global consumption of fibred materials was 11.4kg per capita. The per capita emission related to this estimated global consumption was 442kg of CO2 eq in 2016. This is equivalent to taking about 150 baths. Different phases of the apparel production and supply chain are responsible for the adverse environmental impact. Dyeing and finishing, yarn preparation and fiber production are the first three drivers of global pollution within textile industry followed by distribution and consumption of apparels. Textiles industry also contributes 35% of the total micro plastic in the oceans (Boucher & Friot, 2017). Textiles industry is considered as the second most pollutant industry after oil (Szokan, 2016).The statistics here is only a representation of a smaller section of both process and geography but it raises alarms once one starts to contextualize the unorganized mechanisms associated with the fashion industry.

The trend of fast fashion which encouraged people to consume fashion more and frequently is only in the contradiction of the need of consume more consciously and reduce the adverse environmental impact. Increasing the lifespan of the fashion merchandise is one of the needs of the hour. But if fashion stands for cyclical change of trend then longer usage of same fashion items sounds an impractical dream.

Both the production and generation of waste is tied closely to our fetishistic patterns of consumption and disregard for our environment. The chapter at hand not only introduces readers to various perspectives on conspicuous consumption of fashion but also introduces a more sustainable model of production and consumption with a specific way termed as art of fashion. The chapter deals with how fashion industry needs to build a sustainable base in order to preserve, conserve and march towards a holistic growth.

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