In the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range, amongst pine-covered hills, you'll find a cluster of small tailoring units. Setting up tailoring units far from the cities is a challenge as skills, equipment and materials can be hard to find. However, through patiently training the local villagers and bit by bit getting the equipment needed, the tailoring cluster of several hundred rural women is now set up to tailor and knit everything from bags to fashion garments.
By using natural and eco-conscious materials such as local hemp, Himalayan merino wool and natural dyes, the cluster aims to set an example of how skilled textile production can be established in rural areas and be connected with nature so it creates both social and environmental impact. In addition to these local materials, we are working actively with the cluster to upcycle the scraps from their operations into patchwork textile products. Other materials such as silk-linen like banana fibres and recycled cotton can easily be sourced through the network of contacts within the Indian natural textile industry which is formed through our partnership with the cluster.
Textile waste is a massive global problem stemming from the overconsumption and wastage of textile products often tailored at a fast pace without attention to quality materials or tailoring techniques. In addition, synthetic dying is another devastating issue as most synthetic dyes are not biodegradable; they accumulate on lands and in rivers causing ecological problems.
Thus, choosing natural and eco-conscious materials of long-lasting quality (such as Hemp) is the first step to a more sustainable textile industry. Additionally, natural dyes are biodegradable, non-toxic and non-allergenic, making them generally better for the environment and for use around humans.
Hemp is a sustainable fibre that is also highly durable, making it both an important textile for the future of the textile industry, as well as being better for the environment. It has low carbon emissions and doesn't require much maintenance; the plant grows without the need for harmful herbicides and pesticides and also replenishes soil quality. Read more about hemp here.
Another way to reduce textile pollution and the negative ecological impact of the textile industry is the upcycling of textile waste itself. Over 10% fabric wastage usually happens in the very first stage of making a textile product; when the fabric is cut. These scrap materials are found anywhere textiles are tailored and are valuable materials that should be re-used. This can be done in many ways. One way is to design products around the cut, so the full fabric piece is used. Another way is to design products based on the scraps left behind. Finally, patchwork uses scrap patches and stitches them into a new fabric.
100% comfortable | Soft and durable | Mulesing free | Anti- bacterial and anti-fungal properties | Upcycled cotton waste | Handmade
Farming is the major occupation in the area of the tailoring cluster. However, with new roads being built, farming has become increasingly more difficult in the Himalayan region as herbivore animal habitats have now been infiltrated and these animals feed on crops, damaging farmers. Furthermore, competition from larger productive plantations on the flatlands has made farming unprofitable. Relocating to the cities is, for many, a way out of this growing poverty. But relocation doesn't favour people's connection with nature, cultural values, family togetherness or organic farming. That's why Hemp farming represents an untapped, major potential for farmers as hemp grows in high yields and is resilient to pests and animals. In addition to that, using natural dyes that don't contaminate the land, hemp textiles help create safe rural farming opportunities.
Furthermore, creating skilled job opportunities in rural areas through a cluster of tailoring and knitting units gives labour opportunities all year round. Both, rural poverty and the negative effects of urbanisation are reduced.
Using textile scraps for patchwork is not only great for the environment but has an additional social impact. Patchwork is labour intensive, yet does not demand experienced tailors, hence it's a great way of providing lots of work opportunities for less experienced tailors to train on the sewing machine.
Most of the units depend on handmaking. This requires less energy and much lower carbon footprints than items made on mass-production assembly lines. By using environmentally beneficial materials such as Hemp, the units create products with the environment in mind.
UN Sustainable Development goal
By creating hand-made products, this project has contributed to target 12.2; "achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources"
Local population are employed and set up in tailoring units. Training is also provided since you do not need to be trained to operate the sewing machine. In doing so, rural areas are empowered and uplifted to create products whilst also receiving salaries for their work. Women are especially empowered and farmers are also able to make additional income.
UN Sustainable Development Goal
By contributing to providing livelihoods to the local population and increasing their job prospects, this project contributes to target 8.5; "achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value"