Have you ever thought that the travel jacket you just bought, or the bespoke chambray shirt on your back could will be contributing to environmental pollution? Yes, clothing is a huge source of environmental pollution — not many people know this — and, thankfully, India has just taken a huge step towards promoting a more sustainable approach to fashion. The only way to combat this is to opt for responsible, eco-friendly fabrics, which are biodegradable. Austrian company Lenzing, which specialises in sustainable fabrics has been greatly present in the Indian market. At the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, Union Minister for Textiles, Smriti Zubin Irani announced Project SU.RE, India’s biggest sustainable fashion movement.

This project is a brainchild of a number of players including The Ministry of Textiles, The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India and IMG Reliance, the organisers of Lakme Fashion Week, in addition to support from the United Nations. As part of the SU.RE movement, 16 of India’s leading fashion brands have signed a pact to incorporate sustainable fabrics in their collections, and to promote responsible fashion. The brands that have pledged their support are Raymond, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail, Arvind Fashion, Bestseller, House of Anita Dongre, Lifestyle, Levi’s, Max, Shoppers Shop and Westside, among a few others.

Simultaneously, on the very same evening, Lenzing showcased its revolutionary sustainable viscose fibre, Ecovero, to the public, in partnership with iconic designers Abraham & Thakore. The collection saw a host of exquisite men’s kurtas, cut to perfection (as well as a huge womenswear offering as well), developed entirely with Ecovero fibres. For those wondering, Lenzing’s Ecovero fibre is manufactured from certified and controlled wood sources, produced with lesser emissions and water intake.

At the event, which industry leaders laud as a revolutionary one, Smriti Irani commented, “As a proud Indian, I stand here today to witness history. I would like to tell the United Nations that this has become possible due to the initiative of the industry, IMG Reliance and Lakme Fashion Week. We are celebrating the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi, who asked us to be the change we wish to see int he world. The sustainability pact we have signed today is reflective of that very thought of the Mahatma. Never before have 16 of the biggest brands of India come together to save the earth. The combined industry value of the 16th signatories of the resolution is around 30,000 crore rupees. Everything we consume, we have to consume responsibly. The step taken today makes for not only responsible business but also smart business. The Sustainability Report 2018 states that sustainability is the 4th criterion considered by consumers, while choosing products. I am grateful that the United Nations in India is also here to support this endeavour. Best wishes for this amalgamation and confluence of what is purely Indian thought.”

Adding to this, Renata Lok-Dessallien, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in India said, “The future of design is foremost about design with a future. Without sustainable supply chains, the fashion industry will become less and less viable. Project SU.RE opens a new dialogue to accelerate concrete actions for sustainability and climate action, and reduce environmental costs, through the entire value chain of clothes manufacturing.”

In conclusion, Jaspreet Chandok, vice president and head of fashion, IMG Reliance added, “This is a culmination of our staged goal towards making sustainability a mainstream conversation. This initiative will be the start of a movement that can have massive impact and we hope to see significant change to come through over the next five years as major retailers move towards embracing sustainability at their core.”