The spread of awareness about eco-consciousness is rising, even in India. Conversations about sustainability are becoming more commonplace. A term that keeps popping up in these conversations is sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion is a movement geared towards treating the whole system of fashion with greater ecological integrity and social justice. Protima Tiwary, a well-known Instagram influencer and freelance writer, was recently a part of an event that promoted sustainable fashion through clothes swapping. We at SheThePeople.TV got a chance to chat with Protima Tiwary about all things sustainable fashion and more.
On September 22, in Mumbai, Protima Tiwary along with her friends Aaishanni Agny and Sucharita Iyer put together an event. The Clothes Swap #SwapDontShop was an event to encourage sustainable fashion by asking people to swap their clothes with each other.
“We are trying to support local brands. Since it’s not always possible to directly support local brands, we can at least stop buying from the larger corporates.”
Protima said, “We are trying to support local brands. Since it’s not always possible to directly support local brands, we can at least stop buying from the larger corporates.”
“If I go and shop from a, say, Zara or H&M…I’m spending at least five to seven thousand on an average to get just a couple of clothes. Now if I don’t spend that, so that’s a lot of money. At the end of the day, I think, the goal is to not support the larger corporates. This kind of event keeps the money within the community, as well.”
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How It All Started
The idea for the event came really naturally, Protima said. As her awareness about eco- friendly practices grew, her lifestyle changed. “Me and my friends, we personally started opting for local brands. You know small things like going for a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one. Or buying Vicco Turmeric and not Colgate. Small things like that. And in doing that, handloom and khadi are what we started buying.”
Protima adds that since early this year, she hasn’t been shopping at large brands.
“The event happened because there were a bunch of us, and we were together. I said something like, ‘Okay, I’m not going to wear this, but I don’t want to give it away either. Do you want it?’ And there were about six of us, my friends, and slowly we decided that we should make something bigger out of this.”
“The event went really well. We were actually very surprised because we ended up getting a lot of people… People are definitely embracing this culture of sustainability.”
The idea was to swap clothes like crop tops, shrugs, and short skirts. All the clothes that were leftover from the event, we segregated into ‘trendy’ and ‘donating.’ So clothes like salwar kameez, shirts, pants, sweaters – we gave those to a small school in the area.”
In Protima’s opinion, the swapping of clothes as a practice of sustainability is important because not all clothes can be donated. “The idea was to swap clothes like crop tops, shrugs, and short skirts. All the clothes that were leftover from the event, we segregated into ‘trendy’ and ‘donating.’ So clothes like salwar kameez, shirts, pants, sweaters – we gave those to a small school in the area.”
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Why Is Sustainable Fashion So Important?
In today’s day and age, events like these matter more than ever. “We might think that it’s not enough but just one person not opting for things that harm the environment can make all the difference. I’ve personally not bought any clothes since March. At home, we’re going in for handloom and khadi. We’re buying from the wholesale guys so again, this is supporting local businesses.”
Protima believes that is crucial for each person to realise that their actions have an impact upon the world. Events such as these serve not only in terms of the work done during it but also spark conversations around sustainable fashion.
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Even though the conversation surrounding it is focussed primarily in the big cities, Protima Tiwary is hopeful about the future of sustainable fashion in India. “We have a long, long way to go. But an interesting thing to note here is that in North India, there used to be or perhaps still is this culture of preserving their old clothes, and giving it away to their house help. So, say, a sari that they won’t wear anymore. So, this has been a thing in North India for really long. And it wasn’t done for money. So I think what we’re doing is really an extension of this.”
“I think with more and more young people working towards this, this will spread not only into the big cities but also smaller towns. It can definitely be done.”
“More events like these have to happen… Whatever’s been happening so far has been really intimidating. So, a very fancy place, and building this whole fancy event around it. This makes people more intimidated… So these events have to be made more approachable.”
Sustainable fashion is the new call of the decade. “I think with more and more young people working towards this, this will spread not only into the big cities but also smaller towns. It can definitely be done.”
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Prapti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV