Our legacy and pride, the handloom, as its name suggests, is operated manually without electricity or other fuel. The first handloom is said to have been fashioned nearly 5000 years ago in the Indus Valley Civilization.
From crude to sophisticated and miniature to elaborate, they may vary significantly in appearance and functionality. However, to this day, they are all constructed to optimally use natively available plant and animal-derived fibers, namely, cotton, silk, and wool.
The evolution and mechanization of the handloom during the eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution led to the invention of the electrically powered; power loom.
Employed extensively today for rapid mass production of clothing using primarily synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester, rayon, and nylon, power looms are not entirely autonomous. They require continued human supervision to perform efficiently.
Fast fashion - powered by power looms
What once emerged as a solution is now a part of the problem. Power looms have made it possible to produce too much too quickly. Thus, overproduction and underconsumption have become rampant across the globe. Also associated are environmental concerns such as greenhouse gas emissions and excessive consumption and pollution of water.
These issues are exacerbated further by the 52 micro fashion seasons and the false increased demand cited by brands to increase and expedite production using the cheaper labor available in countries such as Bangladesh and India.
Consequently, India, a leading global producer of fast fashion, is catering to European and American markets while witnessing a surge in domestic demand.
Disposable incomes are increasing, and so is discretionary spending. Both these factors contribute to fashion consumption and subsequent waste. In India alone, over one million tonnes of textiles are disposed of annually.
Handlooms - a sustainable solution
Fortunately, the solution to these problems has existed for centuries. It is simply a matter of returning to our roots and adopting longstanding sustainable practices.
Handlooms may be inching towards obscurity across the world. However, at SónChiraiya, we are extensively adopting them to offer an alternative to fast fashion and a variety of exquisite sustainable ethnic luxury clothing to women with classic fashion sensibilities.
We pride ourselves in facilitating slow, circular fashion that doubles as valuable heirlooms that one generation passes down to another. Doing so allows each owner of the same garment to enjoy it as is or style or repurpose it in keeping with current fashion trends or personal style.
Sustainable or fast fashion - the choice is ours
At this critical juncture in the worldwide efforts to end fast fashion, savouring handloom clothing and slow, sustainable fashion or chasing the fast-fleeting instant gratification of fast fashion is a personal choice that has become pertinent to our entire planet's well-being.