Dyeing to Sustain

NIFT Hyderabad, India organized a three day International Conference on Fashion, Retail and Management on 9th, 10th and 11th, January 2014. The Conference started with our National song Vande Mataram. Dr. GHS Prasad, Chairperson of the conference, gave the background perspectives of the Conference. Dr. N. J. Rajaram Director of the Conference welcomed the gathering and highlighted the importance of the event.

I was honoured to be present on the occasion to share my Research paper on the second day of the conference, where, on the topic- “Sustainability” there were 10 papers listed for presentation and 9 papers were presented by the respective authors. The session was chaired by Dr. Harigovind Mishra and Co- Chaired by Dr. Y. Malini Reddy.

My Research Paper is Published in the book – Reflections- 2014 “Contemporary Issues and Trends in Fashion, Retail and Management” (ISBN: 978-81- 7800-297-2) under the title, “Dyeing to Sustain: “Encouraging Eco Conscious Lifestyle & Social Responsibility” and was presented.

The Research Paper is suggestive of an integrated design intervention based on a triple bottom line approach (social, economy, environment) and includes multiple interventions –

  • Sensitization & orientation of Textile industry, Artisan communities, Government & global Consumers for the use of natural products
  • Organized cultivation & aggregation of natural dye sources (backward linkages).
  • Scientific processing for dye extraction & storage, Standardization of production norms/ procedures to attain desired color palette for making hi-fashion products (horizontal linkages).
  • Branding, Packaging & Market promotion (vertical linkages).

All this, to ensure occupational health and safety of the artisans, position green textile products in hi fashion markets, augment its marketability worldwide, provide sustainable livelihood solutions to marginalized communities, and reduce the impact of chemical dyes on the ecosystem.

The challenges will be in the adoption of improved packages of practices which may be slow due to the prevalence of age old traditional practices or resistance to change. Artisans may not readily accept long term skill-training as they are displaced temporarily from their bread earning jobs which is the commercial production of natural dye products. Consumer’s response to the natural dye products may be slow due to high price. Logistical problems are anticipated during the pilot level implementation of the intervention.

The methods involved in the whole process will be Standardization of Natural dye wherein, a ‘Heritage Craft Incubation Centre’ is setup with the use of Hybrid variety of seeds of the plants from which natural dyes are extracted. Introduction to the Color Palette for Natural dyes will be done. The second step will be to orient Workshops & Skill Training to Educate to Sustain, and also to motivate farmers/ tribal SHGs, in the cultivation & collection of dye sources and improving their post harvest value addition practices. The third step will be maintaining the Supply Chain mechanism. Here, Quality Control, developing Dyeing houses and Promotional Outlets for Eco-heritage crafts, etc. will be incorporated. The next step will be to connect to the market where we connect local to global. The important step will be Branding and Promotion with the Introduction to the Natural Dye Kit, Literature/Catalogue, and Packaging/Product Range. The research paper provides an opportunity to examine possibilities for experimentation and innovation. It will bring together different stakeholders across the globe, right from the producers (base of the pyramid) to the end-consumers who have an interest in heritage crafts & green handcrafted products, and are quality/eco/fashion conscious and socially responsible. Thus, in order to address these challenges and to provide tangible & sustainable solution to the indigenous heritage craft industry, there is a dire need to re-invent the sector and devise pragmatic strategy for the overall benefit of the stakeholders/ communities at large.

The eminent panelists expressed their views on the well-researched & presented themes and shared their thoughts & experience with the delegates. The day was concluded with a Cultural programme and the connecting dinner for the Invitees, delegates and other dignitaries.

The curtain came down on the third day with the closing ceremony. The three days International Conference created a meaningful impression on the participants through its systematically organized Plenary Sessions, Workshops and Technical Sessions. In view of this, it is recommended to the organizers, that Reflection should be continued every year on the current issues of the Industry. It is a great platform to mobilize Academicians, Industry and Researchers to reflect on issues and help the Industry for sustainability.

Richa Lakwal

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