Waking up to Consciousness

Waking up to consciousness

post

When I heard of the Rana Plaza catastrophe, I followed my standard reaction to any heart wrenching news that comes my way – I went into the ostrich mode. I cut myself off of all news channels and websites. Knowing the media’s disposition to cover the absolute current, sensational news, I was sure that in a while the furore would die down and I would, somehow, stay untouched by what was to be, in days to come, a cathartic journey questioning my deep love for fashion.
 
To those of you, who might have missed it in the plethora of news that we are bombarded with at every moment, Rana Plaza tragedy occurred in a sweatshop in Bangladesh on 24th of April’13. The 8 floor building was evacuated a day before as huge cracks had appeared on the foundation walls. On the day the tragedy occurred, only the garment factory workers were made to work in the facility and rest of the offices were shut down. Sadly, half of these workers were women who have zero bargaining power and their infants, who were left in a ‘nursery’ in the same building, accompanied many. The last straw for this tragedy was the need to use huge generators in a cracked up building that had been declared ‘unsafe’. But, strangely, the work could not be stopped. When the building collapsed, almost 1,138 people died and over 2500 were seriously injured, 140 bodies have,till date, notbeen accounted for. This facility manufactured garments for labels like Primark, Benetton, Mango, Wal-Mart etc.
 
My journey was arduous indeed as I find great joy in the creative stimulation that fashion offers and many a times, going through my own silly longing for those Céline sandals or that Stella McCartney bag or a cropped top that would look so cool. Suddenly, fashion presented a face that was ugly and scary, something I simply could not relate with.
 
This series is a result of the journey that Rana Plaza tragedy propelled me into, that of introspection, a purgation of the irrelevant and choosing consciousness over mindlessness.

Waking up to consciousness

paiala

Fast fashion collision happened much later in my life but when it did, I never understood the deep sadness it would bring in its wake. It does not seem surprising now though, as my growing up years in royal city of Patiala, Punjab with its wealth of artisticcraftsmen and the joy of a mom who could stitch fabulous garments helped me develop a discerning eye and fondness towards clothes and the people who made them.
 
From the time I was considered bright enough to have a say in what I will wear, I remember going to these family owned shops to choose fabric, then to a locality where many women who did hand embroidery lived, then to an adorable dyer who could hand dye ten shades of red and finally to a tailor who would stich the garment.
Continue reading

Waking up to consciousness

pallavipost

There is a story to how fashion became fast and furiously out of control. It is pretty much like the extinct dodo bird’s journey of evolution that got excessively dumb by the day.
 
In the good old days there were two seasons and all of us aligned with that. There were summer clothes and winter ones or summer and rain ones until buying garments became a past time, a therapy and the joy of dressing up like our cultural icons and not really like ourselves became an obsession.
 
Soon, sharp and ruthless businessmen entered the fray to satiate our longing for more and more. We saw the meteoric rise of labels like as Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, and Forever 21. Thanks to their quick reaction to trends, impeccable precision in anticipating future demand and speedy turnaround, they ensure less wasted inventory and a huge profit. The trend conscious stylista thrives on the instant gratification that these garments offer at ridiculously low prices and is encouraged to renew her wardrobe every few weeks. A six-month cycle shrunk to three weeks and four seasons became one hundred and four (as in the case of Zara, restocking happens every Tuesday and Thursday).The fast fashion labels fuel our impulsive buying mentality by getting in a small stock and what does not catch our fancyin the first round, is quickly disposed off at ridiculously low prices during the frequent sales that we lap up with the joy of having won a lottery.
 
How can the garments cost so low, with the ever-escalatingrentals, staff costs, international transportation, manufacturing costs etc.?
Continue reading

Waking up to Consiouness

finalPost

“You would not believe the price of the t-shirt! Rs.399! I bought all the shades! I just can’t imagine how these can be so cheap!” Upon hearing a victorious boast like this one, I just have to bite my tongue not to give an unpleasant reaction.
 
I would not like to inundate a reader with the facts and figures, since I am almost always completely and utterly at a loss with it, but please bear with me on only these two pieces of data:
 
1. An average single cotton t-shirt requires 500 liters of water (though in some places it can be as huge as 20,000 liters), 40 grams of pesticides and carcinogenic chemicals for finishing process. Add to thatthe regular doses of water, which adds salt to upper soil of the irrigated land, causing large-scale salinization that renders the patch of earth pretty useless to grow anything else. *
 
2. To get 80 million tonnes of fabric (worldwide consumption in 2007) into shape, it takes 1074 billion kilowatt hours of electricity generated by 132 million tonnes of coal and 6 – 9 trillion liters of water. Add to that the land and water pollution caused due to pesticides, dyeing and finishing fabrics. *
Continue reading

Waking up to Consiouness

16-12-2014

Some pieces of clothing are hard to hold on to if you lead a life of immense leisure and your friends, well, do not. You aimlessly take a stroll here and there, come upon something of beauty and buy it.
 
Wearing that thing of beauty, you catch up with a friend who does meaningful things and gainfully utilizes her time and she looks at you and says; “Why could you not pick one such for me! Please send this one over and get another one for yourself.” Though I don’t keep a track of such things with friends (Really. I don’t) but I have to say that the Eka frocks, made bytalented Rina Singh, top the list (second only to Upasana’s Turkish pants made by Uma Prajapati!). So imagine my surprise when my 14 year old daughter, upon seeing an Eka frock, tried it on and decided it was ‘cool’, so ‘cool’ in fact that she will wear it to an outing.
 
It was a moment of inspiration and I was itching to do a story along the line of ‘conscious garment surviving the destruction caused by fast fashion”. Rina was requested to send garments for the story. Now what was needed was a location that could justify the narrative. I was lamenting on my dilemma to my friend, Jyoti Gwalaniand she looked at me through her retro glasses and declared, “I know the place!” I knew Jyoti would know of it. She always does.
Continue reading