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How These Entrepreneurs are Working towards Creating a Conscious and Sustainable Fashion Industry It is a general consensus today that fashion should not be just about expenditure and consumption, but become a sustainable circle

By Baishali Mukherjee

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Since the past two decades, economic development initiatives of the Government of India have successfully mobilized the local population to be conscious about the potential of their traditional-cultural resources. The availability of such local human resources constitutes a promising basis for a community-led entrepreneurship.

This awareness has also motivated urban entrepreneurs to work collectively with the rural artists and artisans to create sustainable business models which foster development. Unless the consumer and producer of art are brought to the same platform, the viability of sustenance of art becomes uncertain. Integrating culture into development ensures inclusive socio-economic development, peace and security.

Amitava Bhattacharya, founder Banglanatak Dot Com, is working towards safeguarding dying heritage art traditions of indigenous people by making them a means of sustainable livelihood. "We have innovated models for transforming the cultural capital into an economic asset and thereby creating a green pathway for development. The long-lasting experiences showed us that supporting people to develop their skills helps the whole community develop. We support rural artisans explore themselves, strengthen their skills and professionalize the ancient culture through entrepreneurship," informed Bhattacharya.

Banglanatak Dot Com's initiatives have emerged as a viable option for converting traditional skill into business models and today rural youths are coming forward to adopt traditional culture as their livelihood option.

"In Simri, Madhubani, the number of Madhubani painters who have taken up the art form as their primary livelihood has increased from 20 to more than 700 in two years. In West Bengal, the average monthly income of the Kantha artists has increased from INR 500 in 2005 to INR 7,000 in 2018. 40% of the artist community in Nanoor of Bolpur district have taken their art form as a model for business and entrepreneurship," he added.

It is a general consensus today that fashion should not be just about expenditure and consumption, but become a sustainable circle. Sujata Chatterjee, founder Twirl Online Store, realised that her wardrobe is often stacked to the full with things she no longer needed and yet she always looked for buying new attires. I thought there must be some better use of the clothes that were lying untouched in my wardrobe. While looking for a smarter way to continue shopping without overcrowding wardrobe, the idea of Twirl came to my mind," shared Chatterjee who is presently building awareness on how wastage should be reduced and how everyone can contribute in making fashion a sustainable circle.

Chatterjee rewards you for sending your redundant clothing to her by allowing you buy new designer clothing and accessories from Twirl. And with the old possessions you give, the she-preneur donates them to charity through monthly drives or upscales some of the fabrics to create new, unique fashion items. Twirl is perhaps the first Indian platform where all its clothes come with a "Buy Back' policy so when you no longer want it- you can return it and get rewarded.

Chatterjee is a strong believer of "Girl Power' and has built a team of girls who work with her while the tailors associated with Twirl are also primarily women from rural and marginalised backgrounds.

Anupam Arya, Director, Fabriclore, aspires to break new grounds in the reinvention of Indian handloom and is keen to promote the knowledge of Indian fabrics in the global business arena. "We want to support independent designers in the age group of 20-50 years and have already partnered with above 15 communities of artists, weavers and handloom workers. Our flagship initiative is to make our artisans create fabrics which don't undergo colour bleeding, are of very high quality and can sustain design innovation," shared Arya who is all set to launch a platform for sharing ideas and learning amongst urban fashion experts and rural traditional artisans.

Projects undertaken by this Rajasthan based entrepreneur intends to develop new products through innovation by implementing acknowledged and sustainable production techniques. In addition to spreading awareness on the large repertoire of fabrics from across the country, Arya is also instrumental in supporting upcoming designers from tier II and III towns by helping them build stores without significant investment in stockpiling fabrics.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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