Increased consumption in the fashion industry has led to massive mass-production of fashionable garments that in turn has put extreme pressure on retail suppliers to create rapid product lines and also replenish the inventory at an equally faster speed. This is a major reason why companies are not able to fully control the toxic and bio-accumulative chemicals present in the textile industry. However, it is becoming increasingly important that consumers do not overlook this important aspect of a multi-billion dollar fashion industry which involves many processes like the souring of raw material, manufacturing, transportation, marketing and retailing and employs millions of people worldwide.
One of the most ethical companies that we can all recall is probably The Honest Company which was co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, "emphasizing on household products that are as non-toxic and healthy as possible." At Gartika, we conceptualized our business model following the same philosophy for sourcing the raw material and responsibly use Azo-free dyes in our fabric construction. It is natural that customers do not know about all the sweatshops operating globally that use unethical labour practices in the fashion industry; and needless to say they are also clueless about what goes behind a plush cashmere cardigan they just bought at a high-end store. While all that is alright, none of us should be alien to the term "conscious buyer" as it's certainly not hard to be one.
HOW TO BE A CONSCIOUS FASHION BUYER?
In simple words, we first need to completely eliminate toxic fabric dyes that are made of 70% synthetic compounds making them carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and containing heavy metals. Azo-dyes not only dangerously affect the textile industry workers who work with these dyes but also our environment as dye factories across the world are dumping tons of dye effluent into rivers. Now, it doesn't take a scientist to understand how bad that is for us and our future generations.
What's worse is that these chemicals affect us directly and research shows that clothing that uses harmful dyes, on coming contact with the human skin, due to heat and perspiration starts getting absorbed by our skin pores. It's highly possible that our skin starts feeling irritated due to these reasons and we don't even know why we are feeling a certain way. Some people with chemical insensitivity may also suffer from extreme symptoms such as dermatitis, allergic reactions, skin problems like eczema and sometimes even infertility. Here is a highly relevant Wall Street Journal article titled Do You Need to Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them? The article also throws light on some other serious issues such as contracting infectious diseases from retail stores where many people try the same clothes in a matter of minutes.
DETOXING IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY IN 2016
The good news is that customers are starting to pay attention to the quality and creation of a product, urging more companies to do the right thing. We need more awareness to let the world know that ethically produced garments using low-impact dyes are not always exorbitant or dull and boring. If the consumption for harmfully dyed clothes decreases, then the demand for Azo-free clothing will automatically increase. There will soon come a time when just like the farmer's market, people will scout for small clothing shops as they'll probably want to know what has gone into their threads and yarn. A few companies who have acknowledged their responsibility and started to make an effort in this direction are H&M, Zara, Calvin Klien, Gap, Mango, Mark's and Spencer, The North Face and Victoria's Secret among others.
A brand new year with beautiful beginnings is here so let's hope more clothing companies understand the value of sustainable fashion that is not only trendy but good for your skin and also the environment.
Take a look at Gartika's chemical-free scarves launched this winter season and choose your unique pattern.