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It’s 2020 and our natural resources are still being depleted affecting the ecological balance of the planet. Several factors and industries play a role in causing this imbalance but, the major industry affecting is the Fashion and the textile sector. This sector is a major polluting sector since each stage of a garment’s lifecycle threatens our plane and resources. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true that to produce a kilogram of cotton which is equivalent to a t-shirt or a pair of jeans requires more than 20,000 litres of water. Also, about 8000 types of hazardous chemicals are used in the conversion of raw material into garments.

Adding to the misery, if some garments do not sell or go out of style, they end up in landfills, adding to the pollution. So, in order to combat these issues and to make our planet pollution free, many brands and designers have chosen sustainability or incorporated sustainable measures into their business operations. But, the question is, to what extent are they truly sustainable? On what parameters do we consider a brand to be completely sustainable?

It’s been noticed that brands focus more on communications at the point of sale or products of a collection made of organic raw materials rather than on the objective behind using sustainable measures. There are brands who are not completely ethical in their operations yet they call themselves to be sustainable. Brands like H&M pushed huge quantities of cheap clothing calling it sustainable, yet generated massive wastes. This might create a struggle for the consumers to make legitimate sustainable choices. So, in order to consider a brand genuinely sustainable, every aspect of their business should be ethical and transparent. This includes selection of right raw materials, efficient manufacturing process with special attention to waste water treatments and pollution control, selection of right transportation to reduce costs.

But, most important of all, there should be complete transparency through the supply chain, safeguarding worker’s rights, becoming more energy efficient and reusing textiles. In India, getting environmental certifications such as the ISO 14000/14001 which helps in assessing the environmental and social compliance throughout the manufacturing phase is paramount as it ensures ethical standards of the business and gains customer loyalty.

Many sustainable labels are pioneers in seeking complete transformation of the industry from inside out. But, since it is a global emergency and large ignorance on the part of the consumers towards sustainable brands makes the path more difficult to reach towards a sustainable future.

-Ishita Minda

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