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‘We can make a green difference’

Designer Omi Gurung speaks on The Wear Project a social action initiative to create awareness about textile waste in India.

Bishali Khati |

Popularly known as “The Green Man of Sikkim”, fashion designer and social entrepreneur, Omi Gurung is currently working on The Wear Project that stands for waste environment.

Being born and brought up in Sikkim, he has been deeply connected with nature and finds inspiration from the surrounding.

Currently, his collection is available in Green Gangtok Boutique, some stores in Bangalore and Delhi. Gurung talks about his clothing line that makes him unique from other fashion designers. Excerpts from an interview:

Q. What is your mantra of success?

Where ever I go, I always tell people these two quotes of mine. “You are what you wear” and “Green is a verb”. As a consumer you have the power to make a choice, don’t be just a consumer but be a conscious consumer. Dress with a heart and soul. We can make a green difference.

Q. What are the variations that make you unique from other fashion designers?

As a creative soul, we designers are all unique in our own ways. I have been known for sustainable fashion and creating lifestyle products out of household waste.

My clothing line are made out of natural materials or made out of discarded materials (waste). Most of my designs are one-of-a-kind and I am certainly not a commercial designer, I design for a cause and with a purpose.

Q. Did your hard work pay off well after being awarded with humble awards and felicitations? What are your future plans?

Awards are an acknowledgement of your work. It certainly feels good when you are recognised and appreciated for the commitment. I have been conferred awards or felicitated for my contribution towards sustainable fashion.

At present, I am working on The Wear Project. WEAR stands for Waste Environment and Reuse — it is a social action initiative to create awareness about textile waste in India.

Fashion industry is the second most polluting industries in the world and one of the largest consumers of water. However, there are few individuals or social organisations in India that are pro-actively advocating about fashion and educating people about it.

Did you know that over a million tonnes of textiles are discarded annually. There is a huge excess of clothing in society due to the transformational shift in the way we buy, use and dispose our garments; most of it end up in landfill.

We are buying up to five times more than we did five years ago, exploiting people and resources and creating environmental problems.

We encourage everybody to cherish their clothes more and be part of a positive change to help reduce waste before it’s too late for our environment.

Q. What is your perspective on the revolving trends and fashion mania?

The buzz word is “sustainable” fashion. And it is great to see many designers are doing their bit to create such designs. It’s all about being global in outlook yet rooted in tradition. Handloom fabric has made a good comeback but the styling is modern. India is known globally for its myriad culture and craftsmanship, and we should take pride in our heritage.

Fashion is a reflection of our times — it has the power to make you look and feel good. Educating people about what you wear and how your clothes are made is the need of the hour. When you learn that it takes lots of energy, resources and labour to create one item of clothing, you value it more. Did you know it takes minimum of 3,625 litres of water to make a pair of jeans?

Q. What’s your take on sustainable fashion?

Say no to fast fashion and support upcycling! This helps lessen the amount of waste going into landfills. It helps reduce carbon dioxide emission by using old materials instead of new ones. In fact, for every ton of discarded textiles used again, 20 tons of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere.

It also promotes sustainable innovation and creativity. As a consumer, the single best thing we can do for our planet is to keep our clothes in use longer and avoid them being thrown into landfills.

Q. Any fashion institutes you would want to recommend?

Today, we have several renowned fashion schools in our country. Some of the institutes are National Institute of Fashion Technology, National Institute of Design, Pearl Academy of Fashion Studies, Vogue Institute of Fashion Technology and JD Institute of Fashion Technology.