My family deliberately tries to live a slow life. It's a conscious decision that helps us savour the small things.
In the past few months I have a new found and profound respect for all things handloom. How did it start? Well for starters I am a flower child at heart with a deep sense for conserving my planet.
Do we ever stop to think why fashion is so hard to keep up with? Fashion today is just driven by corporations trying to maximize their profit. If one makes a garment that lasts years then why would a consumer buy more? This is what drives this industry today. Most fast fashion brands are interested in fast changing fashion trends that lets them mass produce clothes. Maximising profits is the goal. How do they achieve that? Either by making sub par garments that are low on quality (that only last a short duration so that the consumer needs to constantly buy more) or get your garments made at sweat shops( with little or no care for worker safety or fair wages) or both! So if I buy any such fast fashion garments it bears down on my conscious more and more.
84% of unwanted clothes worldwide end up in landfills! My conscious seriously suffers. I wear most of my clothes until their demise and then like a good old classic Indian reuse them for household purposes. But I wonder often if thats the 80's child in me hanging onto my middle class upbringing, would a millennial do the same?
So I consciously decided to slow down even my clothing. This is where my new found interest in handloom peaked. Additionally my new found appreciation for handloom sarees ( whole another story that led me to wear sarees much more frequently, will add another post to explain that reason) . I am fortunate to live in a country that has such a rich fabric heritage. There is a sea of varieties of handloom art in India! I need to take pride in this heritage and do my part in being a part of this movement. Slow fashion - is sustainable clothing made using sustainable indigenous materials and made by hand by our talented weavers. If I spend my money on a saree it should be for a quality product and should pay the weaver who deserves the credit.
In the age of social media everything becomes a fad! There is a huge handloom bubble online! Sometimes I worry about the authenticity and whether even this is becoming a fast fashion-esque trend! Every other day it's tussar week or kantha stitch saree week. And as humans we love to keep up with the Joneses! Do I really need a saree from each and every region of this vast country? Do I need to "follow" as sheep! I ask myself this question often - am I buying this saree because I love it or because I want to create a collection! Am I aiming to set up a museum?! Can anyone possibly wear 100 or 200 or more sarees? Do you cherish and love all those sarees? Is there a story to tell behind each garment that I own? Do we really need so many?
I buy when I love something ( in the words of the queen Marie Kondo - when something truly sparks joy). When there is story to tell... "Oh I got this saree on my trip to Kerala, we found this quaint little shop.." Or " this saree belongs to my Nani she wore it during her wedding, I cherish it so much"!
If I have a story to tell then I truly cherish it! I know when I wear that saree that it would look radiant on me!
I would love to understand and assimilate any knowledge I can about the art of the weave that I am planning to buy or have. This is how I can keep up the rich tradition of this craft.
So, do I get tempted to buy even slow fashion garments due to this insidious social media pressure? Yes, I am human. But I have also developed a sense of questioning. Do I love it? Will I cherish it? Does it tell a story? Is this saree an heirloom? Does it spark joy? Is it sustainably made?! I think it's important to question.
|Khesh cotton saree|
Consumerism (even in slow fashion) will not lead to happiness. In fact most scientific research done apropos happiness proves this consistently! Having things does not make you happy. It's a vicious cycle, you would keep wanting more and more! The key is moderation and contentment.
With my new found interest I often get asked now, where do I buy genuine handloom products? I have come to trust a few sellers over time and do believe in their commitment to this movement. But a wise soul recently reminded me of the power of simplicity. Buy how your grandmother bought her sarees- when you go on a trip buy one locally from a weaver as a souvenir, or buy to add to your child's wedding trousseau, or buy to commemorate occasions.
|Goan Kunbi saree|
The idea is to be mindful. Slow fashion is the way to go. Be sustainable and be contended!