The Sustainable Fashion Revolution

February 6, 2017

Globally, nearly 24% of companies are altering their organizational purpose to be better able to tackle issues relating to climate change, energy, water and other scarce resources. And the fashion industry is not exempt from this.

At the third and final segment of TrendSwim, “Fashion for Good”, Ajai Vir Singh, the founder of Colombo Fashion Week and the Garments Without Guilt campaign and Sarinda Unamboowe, the CEO of Linea Aqua and Head of Environmental Sustainability at MAS spoke about the significance of environmental sustainability from a personal and industrial viewpoint. The talk took place on the 26th of June, 2016 in Colombo as part of Swim Week Colombo, organized by Colombo Fashion Week.

Ajai, who perceives fashion as being as vital as other basic necessities such as food and shelter, draws inspiration from the growing trend of consumers demanding better food. Elaborating on this, he said, “I think with the shift to good food, good fashion is to follow.” Just as the global organic food and beverage market is estimated to grow at a CAGR rate of 16.4% from 2016 to 2022, so will the demand for sustainable fashion given more than 65% of consumers in emerging markets alone actively seek it out at present.

According to Ajai, a requisite for any designer hoping to make his or her collection sustainable is to be innovative. “Understanding your environment is essential when it comes to being innovative. We need to ask ourselves what’s really wrong with fashion. How exactly is it negatively affecting the environment and society? On identifying the key issues, you can proceed with creating a collection that addresses and plays a role in reversing the negative impact on the environment. Case in point, you discover that many factories burn excess fabric, as it is policy to not give it out to anyone else. You could source said material and create a collection using this.” 

Sarinda’s perspective on sustainability focused on the biodegradability and reusability of raw materials used in the production of swimwear. His ultimate goal is the development of a self-sustaining wardrobe or a printer and block of reusable, quantifiable material that will permit its user to design and print their outfit for the day. Admitting, however, that a device such as the aforementioned may be a long way off, he proceeded to highlight the use of biodegradable and recycled raw materials as important factors in the move towards a more sustainable manufacturing process.

He went on to add, “Sustainability is multi-faceted. It’s not just about using less of something, it’s about making it last longer.” He emphasized on the importance of creating durable products to minimize the requirement for more garments to be manufactured but was quick to point out that durability is not always practical when it comes to swimwear. “A swimsuit is a fashion item and nobody wants to be seen in the same swimsuit, year in and year out. So durability aside, that becomes a problem.”