Coming Full Circle

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 13 2021
Glamour Coming Full Circle

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage

You may already be aware of the fact that the global fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world today and has played a major part in causing many of the ecological disasters we face today. With consumers being more aware and sensitive to this, the demand for fashion that doesn’t leave a dent on the planet is on the rise.

This, along with the push within the industry by designers and professionals to lessen the impact on the environment has given life to the concept of responsible fashion, where fashion brands are held accountable and responsible for their impact on livelihoods, economies, and the environment.  

All this and more was the focus of Colombo Fashion Week (CFW), one of Sri Lanka’s biggest voices in the development of its fashion industry as it held its sixth Responsible Fashion Summit on 8 November 2021, featuring a number of panels consisting of some of the biggest names across the industry along with key personalities from around the world.

Going full circle

The opening panel focused on the impact of circularity in design, featuring Head of Design, Hirdaramani Discovery Lab Piyumi Perera, VP of Design, Inqube Solutions Arjuna Hettikankanam as well as Designer David Abraham from India with Dr. Mihirini De Zoysa moderating the discussion.

Circularity in production

Minimising waste, boosting efficiency, and shifting to more environmentally friendly production processes and materials are key to incubating circularity in production.

A prime example of this was mentioned by Piyumi Perera from Hirdaramani Discovery Lab while discussing the future of blue jeans and their future under the lens of circularity.

Observing that the key aspect of blue jeans is its durability and longevity, Perera added that when considering circularity in the context of blue jeans, a paradigm shift in thinking was needed, especially regarding the ability to recycle a pair of jeans as well as create new, innovative production processes that are less harmful to the environment.

“Some of the conventional processes used to manufacture jeans such as acid washes and stone washes are questionable when looking through the lens of circularity,” she explained.

“We need what you might call a paradigm shift in how we look at creating blue jeans. For such ambitions, we need to be able to embrace the use of new fibres and technology,” she continued, mentioning some of the initiatives by Hirdaramani to bring circularity to blue jeans manufactured by them.

Circularity in design

Designers also have a major role to play in the process of incubating circularity in fashion. However, the concept of circularity isn’t something new to designers. In fact, before circularity was discussed in studios and fashion shows, it was experienced at the hands of the people.

Designer David Abraham expounded on this point, noting that “we need only to look into the often-overlooked traditional practices of our people to find inspiration,” he shared. “However, this is not easy to scale up. But it is a great opportunity for smaller manufacturers to incorporate and use to their advantage.”

Thinking out of the box

For large-scale manufacturers, a more effective approach may be found in embracing new fibres and forgoing less environmentally friendly materials. Although to some, this might seem rather limiting, David explained that finding unlimited potential in limiting circumstances is the role of a designer. “Designers are problem solvers,” he commented. “This is where they can make a difference.”

All hands on deck

Creating circularity in fashion is never easy, which is why Arjuna Hettikankanam believes it is a problem that should be approached by all parties working as a cohesive body.

“Design teams are often very siloed on how they operate,” he elaborated. “But that doesn’t suit the circular thinking process. I believe we have to start collaborating better and understand the ecological importance of each individual point in the value chain.”

Sri Lanka’s progress towards developing circularity in its fashion industry continues to make slow and steady progress, encouraged through programmes held by organisations such as CFW. However, the end goal is not yet in sight. There is much more in needs to be done.

If you are interested in the discussion of circularity in fashion, consider checking out CFW’s Responsible Fashion Summit, available for viewing on CFW’s official YouTube channel.

(Pix by Nuwan Amarawansha)

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 13 2021

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