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With the growing concerns on climate change, the fashion industry is steadily coming forward and owning the responsibility for achieving the targets of cutting down carbon footprints contributed through textile manufacturing. Push for climate-friendly cloth lines is not only reflected in the climate-sustainable policies of the manufacturers and retailers but also in redefining the consumers’ choices.
What is organic cotton?
Organic cotton is coming up in a big way as an alternative to synthetic clothes and designers are happy to oblige the new trends.
Although the high cost and maintenance keep organic cotton out of bounds from a big chunk of consumers, due to its environment-friendly nature it may become the next big thing.
Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment while conventional cotton is one of the most chemical-intensive. These chemicals have a tremendous impact on the earth’s air, water, soil, and the health of people in cotton-growing areas.
Organic cotton is the next big thing in the fashion industry!!
Dipali Patwa, FabIndia, Group head of brand community and digital said, “The Asia-Pacific region has the largest organic cotton market share in the global market because of the high demand for sustainable cotton solutions for several end-use industries including medical, apparel, and packaging. The demand continues from the fashion industry due to regulations on environmental protection and consumer awareness towards sustainable clothing.”
She said, “Given the health and environmental benefits of organic cotton, more conscious consumers are now shifting towards clothing made from organic textiles. By 2030 the demand for organic cotton will increase sharply, however, to optimize this opportunity, this will need to be backed with market-friendly policies and trade pacts led by brands and retailers to create a proactive change.”
Cost effectivity of organic cotton
To make it reachable for the middle class too, she said “The difference in the price is still a significant factor as the change has to fundamentally start and invested in at the farming level on conversions of the farms first and that requires a significant amount of policy change, incentives and meaningful capital that needs to be invested to create a long term sustainable proposition for the farmers and consumers alike.”
“Despite these obstacles, rising concerns and laws about ecological sustainability and safety will boost the market for organic cotton. Customers are also getting more prepared to pay for organic items as they seek out more sustainable practices. Buy better, Buy durable, Recycle,” she said.
Designer Nabanita Ghosh, Co-Founder & Director, of Trendy Touch Boutique said, “With sustainable clothing becoming the need of the hour (considering environmental concerns), organic cotton is already making major inroads in the fashion industry. Ìndian consumers are more conscious of their purchases today and even willing to shell out extra to own non-toxic, skin-friendly, and breathable fabrics. Since organic cotton has the potential to transform farming communities, improve livelihoods and reduce climate change, growing consciousness among Indian consumers toward the environment and themselves are eventually adding to its craze in India.”
Ghosh said, “Although the prices are relatively higher for organic cotton fabrics than the conventional category, a bunch of middle-class buyers who are health-conscious and aspire to be trendsetters in their income bracket is for organic cotton fabrics than the conventional category. Besides, there is also a set of small business owners of homegrown ethnic wear brands dealing in women’s wear and kid’s fashion who are trying to bring organic cotton into an affordable bracket for these consumers.”
Urvisha Panchani, Director, Fabcurate on her part said, “Grown without the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, organic cotton is steadily rising the popularity ladder in the fashion and apparel industry. Organic cotton offers advantages such as detoxifying fabrics and eco-friendly cultivation and to further catalyze its adoption, the government of India is extending support through its flagship schemes, Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) and Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY).”
Further, government agencies such as the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) for cotton are helping farmers with a wide variety of non-GMO cotton varieties in the country, said Panchani adding that the schemes for incentivizing the export of organic cotton to overseas markets are also high on the radar of policymakers and are expected to yield desired results in the near future.
Expanding market of Organic cotton
Ami Sata, Founder, Amouve said, “India is one of the top producers of organic cotton. The demand from developed markets far exceeds that from India. With a growing sentiment towards sustainability and other geopolitical factors pertaining to China (the ban on Xinjiang cotton that accounts for nearly 20% of China’s cotton production) and Pakistan (the recent floods), the demand for Indian cotton has only grown.”
Sata added, “If one considers the Indian retail home furnishings segment, a customer looking for a high thread count bedsheet with softness would opt for organic cotton.
I think the way to make organic cotton more democratic is to increase demand by increasingly explaining the benefits (social, health, economic) to all associated with its production and consumption.”
Price parity can be achieved only when more brands take the plunge. Organic will always command a premium considering the production itself is way more stringent and the costs associated are higher, Sata added.
Saneer Malhotra, founder of Wake Your Dreams said, “Customers are well-informed in today’s world and they are picky with their choices. Today the customer wants to do conscious buying and that’s what the brand ethos works around. It’s not only about fabric selection but also about sustainability and increasing the longevity of the product. The brand ethos works around the idea to buy fewer but good quality products which become staple pieces in their wardrobe.”
Talking about reachability for fewer income groups, Malhotra said, “I believe that buying less and good quality products is an investment in timeless pieces in your wardrobe. Working with organic cotton is a premium section but we believe the cost of manufacturing will go down and be able to maintain the costs of the product. Conscious buying has helped to drive organic cotton into the Indian market as customers demand sustainability and work within regulations. The brand works with international regulations and drives to provide product staples for your wardrobe but also about pushing the design factor to make the clothing comfy and cozy.”