Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

AHIMSA silk is made using a PATENTED process without killing silk worms. In the year 2002, the Indian government granted this unique patent to Mr Kusuma Rajaiah. Do not be fooled into buying AHIMSA from anywhere else because this is a patented mulberry silk produced only in one place in the world. Patent for eco-friendly manufacturing of mulberry silkworm yarn has been granted to Kusuma Rajaiah by the controller of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications for 20 Years.
Do you know that silk yarn is produced from silk worms?
Do you know that silk worms are being killed mercilessly to get the silk yarn/filament?
Do you know that 15 silk worms are being killed to get 1 gram of silk, 1500 silk worms are being killed to get one meter of woven silk (cloth)?
Do you know that a conventional silk consumer is indirectly causing cruel killing of Millions of innocent silk worms ?

Animal rights: As the process of harvesting the silk from the cocoon kills the larvae, sericulture has been criticized in the early 21st century by animal rights activists, especially since artificial silks are available.
Mohandas Gandhi was also critical of silk production based on the Ahimsa philosophy “not to hurt any living thing.” This led to Gandhi’s promotion of cotton spinning machines, an example of which can be seen at the Gandhi Institute. He also promoted Ahimsa silk, wild silk made from the cocoons of wild and semi-wild silk moths.Ahimsa silk is promoted in parts of Southern India for those who prefer not to wear silk produced by killing silkworms.

The man who made it happen today:


Kusuma Rajaiah from India conducted research in the field and invented the technique of getting silk yarn from cocoons without killing the silk worms, for the first time in the World in the year 1991. After prolonged research the Ahimsa silk is made marketable in the year 2001.
In our production process child and forced labor are not engaged and there is no discrimination on the basis of sex.
The Hindi word “ahimsa” means Non-violence. It is used to describe this innovation because the fabric is manufactured in a process where silkworms are not killed. For this reason, the product is also known as peace silk. Ahimsa silk is extracted after the silkworm has completed metamorphosis and emerged from the cocoon. Considering the increased awareness of animal protectionism around the world.

Kusuma Rajaiah, a senior technical assistant with a government organization in India, is tasked with the responsibility of developing ahimsa silk into a viable commercial product.
There are many types of silkworms, but Bombyx mori is mainly used for commercial cultivation. The silkworms are placed in bamboo baskets and fed mulberry leaves. As they consume the leaves, the insects exude viscous fluids through head glands. These substances are fibroin (raw silk) and sericin (bonding gum). The substances harden upon contact with air, forming the basic silk filament, which is a combination of two fibers held together by the gum. The silkworm oozes out the fibroin continuously for about 1,000 yards, forming an oval nest or cocoon. But as the worm is still alive inside the cocoon, this poses a problem for devotees who respect all living things big and small.

In the production of regular silk, the cocoons are immersed in boiling water to kill the worms and spool the silk yarn. With Ahimsa silk, however, cocoons are left alone for seven to 10 days. Once the worms mature, they are allowed to pierce the cocoons and fly away as moths. Only then does the manufacture of peace silk begin. Each cocoon is checked individually to ensure that the moth has escaped before the silk thread is spun.
Spinning takes around two months and weaving another month. In other words, shipments can be ready three months after the moths escape. We can produce up to 2,000 meters per month.

Ahimsa silk is promoted as having the popular properties of regular silk. Even though it is slightly less lustrous, it is even softer to the touch. Currently, it remains a niche product due to its higher price range.

“While normal silk fabric of the 80 gsm varies in price with that ahimsa of the same quality, people are becoming more environmentally aware and compassionate to animals.  

Though Ahimsa silk may not replace regular silk, we are confident it will be adopted by those who are concerned about the flora and fauna” says the humble Mr Rajaiah.


So Ethic, Melbourne is the exclusive importer-distributor for this finest-quality cruelty-free Mulberry silk fabric. For those of you who would like to source this beautiful and thoughtful fabric in any quantity, can get in touch with So Ethic []

Love and peace xo








Read Full Post »

As much as I stopped myself from writing this post, I just had to.  I have led myself into brawls with quite a few “change-makers” recently and today I’m writing to you about just one of the many incidences that I decided to avoid.

The season of fashion weeks has begun. This is the time most people from the industry wake up from their deep slumber. Fashion writers want stories and the designers try hard to create these stories. By hook or by crook- they try hard to get a few media mentions and a couple of a hundred sales. That’s how the industry works and I have no problem with it. It has become a familiar scene and hardly matters today. Then why am I writing about it?

I advocate a “niche” segment in fashion- The Ethical fashion industry, Fashion that is made with a conscience, has no guilt involved. The kind that has a heart and soul, for real!  It starts with an emotion and turns into a habit and yes- I am an addict now.

A journo friend called me this morning to give me “news I can use”. A designer who I dreaded (from a past experience) has surfaced again and has started branding herself as an “Ethical fashion designer”. She has paid all the possible media resources back home to get this printed in every leading newspaper. What’s better? A renowned person In Bangalore is now her God father. Well, this Godfather apparently can endorse anyone who sends a fat cheque his way (or maybe use cash to be safe). “Money rules!” said my friend and money rules, I agree. She has succeeded in her attempt and the godfather has made a few bucks for his dope. I am not unhappy about that. I don’t think I care now- “To each, his own”

That said, I have questions in my mind and I don’t even know if I’m looking for answers anymore. Call me a cynic, but I’ve just come to understand that I can’t change the world; maybe I can change the way I live and be an example for people who care.

I can’t stop from wondering, why would you try to brand yourself as an “ethical” fashion designer, first of all? Doesn’t being just a designer do the trick?  You can use the branding for a while to earn you those five minutes of fame but in the end- how will you answer yourself?

Contribution by Brian Li to "The things I have learnt" project.

What will you gain from these articles in the newspaper? Is the end consumer blind not to check that you make garments illegally at home without running a commercial set-up? Or would the consumers fail to see that the silk used is the toil of the poorest of the poor, mostly women and kids who barely make a few bucks a day? Think again.

Of course, there is a market for everything and so there will be a market for such spin doctors too, but I believe in Karma and Karma shall take care of the rest. For me, I need to check and check again before I can vouch for someone. May be you should too. It is impossible to check each and every detail of the stuff you use each day but there is no harm in checking the things you can!

I really wish you would.

Read Full Post »

Dear expert designer from the first world,
Are we thinking globally but acting locally?

Inspite of myself, I must make this point today- fussing over local production in an era of globalisation and a “boundaryless” economy is a shame! You have to change with the changing times else you will be left far behind. The internet has helped us overcome many limitations and its time to benefit from it.

When the so-called “third world” countries are striving hard to make products that are of international standard and working on our time zones to make our products that we design, why are we shying away from giving them the right to a better livelihood?

As much as you try, you will NEVER succeed from taking work away from them and keeping your manufacturing limited to your own region. Every successful fashion brand has outsourced work to places where they can be made at a much lesser cost. By doing this they have not only helped the worker in those third world countries get a better wage and lifestyle but also helped themselves by being able to mass produce and manufacture a cost-effective product. Collaborate! It can help you grow.

I do find many clothes unreasonably priced. When I call them unreasonable, it’s because manufacturing locally is NO excuse to increase the price of the product. Why should the end user pay for your comfort? If you are so worried (and I’m glad you are) about making a product ethically and can’t find someone to help you reduce the manufacturing cost, in this age of the internet and social media- then TRAVEL to a country that can and get it made. BUT dont expect a consumer to pay for your comfortable life in a developed nation paying high amounts to manufacture goods ONLY because you are not prepared to walk that extra mile to give your buyer a good price!  Surely you wish to be called an ethically priced brand too?

Let me also add here that ETHICAL manufacturing is not an added cost. If a designer is trying to sell you something pricey under the pretext of it being ETHICAL then that is not true! Ethical manufacturing aims at being fair and improving lifestyles of people who can help you improve your prices! Yes, there is an element of trust involved here. You need to take the pain to find out if the place you manufacture your goods is doing business in a fair manner, but that “finding out” is what makes you a responsible seller.

How many people can actually afford only Australian made designer fashion? Why cant we reduce the price of the end product we make and pass a part of the benefit to the end consumer? Why cant we make better profits and help the economy grow by earning a little more?  Why cant we help consumers spend lesser on buying clothes so that they can have money to spend on other things? Isn’t that a better economical scenario?

ONE WORLD, my dear. Its just ONE world we all live in.Treat your neighbour with respect and know that others too are capable of what you are. Quality, quantity and skill. If you doubt it, then teach them. But don’t complain without giving them a chance!

I have heard stories of people calling India/ Indonesia corrupt, China being a “copy-cat” or Bangladesh being unskilled. I only have sympathy for people who can have such racist views. NO COUNTRY can stand stall for being free from any corruption or malice. It is your responsibility to research and source work to the people you can trust and take total responsibility for your judgement.

As a brand owner, I urge you to take that extra pain to do this simple research and if you cant do it, then dont expect the buyer to pay $2000 for something they can easily get for $200. I refuse to wear anything ONLY because it is locally made, I am happy to wear it if its both locally made and rightly priced.

Locally made fashion does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable nor does it help cut any environmental impact, it may however improve the economical situation and the fashion industry here, temporarily. But that is ONLY if you can find buyers who will pay those enormous prices! And if you don’t, you are encouraging wasted manufacture of goods that have a very small market and can never reach out to the masses.

The shift to ethical fashion is ONLY possible when there is no added cost to it. We are all working together to make this shift happen. Are you prepared to trust your third world manufacturer to help you here?

Read Full Post »


Sass Brown
Sass Brown is the resident director for the Fashion institute of technology’s study abroad program in Florence, Italy. Originally from London, England, Sass established herself as a designer with her own signature collection selling in the U.K and across Canada. As an academic, her area of research is in community outreach and ethical design practices in fashion businesses. she has published papers and spoken around the world on the topic of sustainable design, has worked and volunteered in women’s cooperatives in Latin America, and taught workshops to manufacturers and fashion enterprises in Peru. Her book, eco design, for British publishers Laurence king, is also translated into Italian and Spanish, with the intent of showcasing some of the best expressions of eco fashion around the world.

My interaction with Sass started a couple of years ago while I worked at the Samant Chauhan design team in India. Sass was then researching on the designers she intended to showcase and her knowledge and interest in the subject had got me totally impressed.

The success of this book “Eco fashion” is no surprise to anyone who knows Sass. She has worked hard on her research and made sure that the the examples within it will act as a model for new and upcoming designers. This has become the most referred book in the sustainable fashion field and will continue to be so for many years to come.

Published by Laurence King


Sass Brown on her book “Eco Fashion” : My hope is that this book and some of the examples within it will act as a model for new and upcoming designers. One of the biggest problems for the next generation of designers is the lack of high profile examples of how to incorporate sustainability and good design. I hope this book will act as just that, a model of what is possible, what can be built upon, and what is already being done. All the best work in any area of product development, from science to design builds upon the past, and furthers the concepts of their predecessors. Our future lays in the hands of designers of every stripe, from products to systems. We can sink in more throw away, designed to be obsolete fashions and products that bury and poison our environment, or we can design ourselves a new future. The eternal optimist, I hope for the later.

Excerpt from my interview with her earlier this week:

Bhakti: Let’s start with the obvious question, Sass- what drove you towards eco-fashion? Sass:  I am a designer by trade, and so have always had a close connection with the industry.  I sort of fell into teaching around 10 years ago, which was a blessing for me, as I was a bit burned out by the industry, having moved from my own label to up of merchandizing in the corporate side of design, and teaching gave me the freedom to explore other areas of design.  very early in my academic career, I was invited to speak on behalf of fit at an international textile conference in Rio, Brazil, and by chance had just read an article about Carlos Miele and his work with women’s cooperatives in Brazil, one of which was based in Rio, who I met during my scheduled visit.  that introduction turned into me writing several grants to work with the cooperative, which started as volunteering, and developed into creative direction, working directly with the artisans in development etc, which grew into me advising and working with various groups in brazil and Peru, giving talks, workshops and consulting and designing, all working with various crafts and techniques, but who needed help to position themselves in a very sophisticated global market place, not as craft cooperatives, but as creators working with traditions techniques and techniques that should be highly prized.  my working with cooperatives, and not for profits in developing countries extended into sustainable fabrications not just sustainable development, which led to more writing, more papers, then the book and now the website and resource guide.

Bhakti: How difficult was it to find the genuine eco fashion and ethical fashion designers throughout the globe? Sass: one of the most refreshing things about the eco fashion movement as opposed to the mainstream fashion movement is the willingness of everyone to share information. there is a general understanding that we all have to support each other for the sustainability of the industry as a whole, so every designer I came across introduced me to other, many times, their biggest competitors.  This is something that is of course all but unheard of in the mainstream fashion system.

Bhakti: Having said that, we know that “Eco fashion” is the most misused term in fashion today, did you have to perform any checks to make sure they are genuine?

Sass: In most cases I visited the company/label, but not in all.  In the end there is a certain amount of trust that went into the gathering of information.  To back that up however, this is an area of design that requires by default absolute transparency, so there is a high expectation of honestly with an equally corresponding high delivery.

Bhakti: As you mentioned visiting the company/labels, I recall that you conduct workshops for manufacturers in fashion. Can you tell us more? Sass: I have given many day long workshops mostly on the design development process and how existing small businesses or even large businesses move into creative development instead of simply production.  So in short, the creative process; where you get inspiration, how you apply that inspiration to your designs, market etc.  In many cases the companies and individuals that have attended those workshops have been individual designers, large companies do product development for others and NGOs and cooperatives looking to break out of a market that undervalues their products into one that values them. I have also given many talks on eco fashion, mostly over viewing who’s doing what around the globe, as a means of showing concrete and inspiring models of what is possible without sacrificing design.

Bhakti: Coming back to your “Eco fashion”, this book has become the best reference source for eco fashion today, how does it feel?Sass: It has been an uphill struggle, but I am committed to showcasing the work of some outstanding labels and designers, and blowing the out of date myth that eco design is bad design, or basic design at best, but that it can stand against the best of the best the fashion industry has to offer and not come up short.   the hope was that the book, now also the website, would develop into a sort of definitive guide or one stop shop for great eco fashion, not watered down by mediocrity or green-washing.  but one place you could always refer to for aspirational ecological or ethical fashion and only fashion, not interiors, not basics, not cosmetics, but aspirational fashion at various tiers of the market, at multiple price points and for multiple tastes, whether expressed as cerebral, intellectual, playful, naive, pretty, feminine or urban, but always good design.  There is still quite a way to go to becoming the definitive source, but every journey starts with a single step!

Bhakti: And that step has been taken, for sure! What is the road ahead looking like for eco and ethical fashion according to you? Sass: For the industry as a whole, the future is bright. There is so much innovation going on, and new labels and committed individuals entering the arena all the time, alongside others establishing a more consolidated presence. There are the beginnings of an eco fashion press happening with more and more coverage by the mainstream media, plus some new publications such as above magazine for example.  My hope is that the industry will continue to move up market, and will forge its own fashion systems, as mimicking the existing one is not the future, and can’t be.  Aspirational design is what drives a market, so there must be aspirational designers at the lead of this movement.

Bhakti: I hope and wish just like you, that this is indeed the beginning of a new era in Fashion. We would love to keep in touch and follow your journey. Tell us, what are you working on lately?

Sass: The website and blog continue to develop and grow, with a different eco designer featured each week, an ever expanding resource guide and an eco fashion calendar.  There are ongoing plans for the website- Firstly, with the information growing on it all the time, there is the need to subdivide  information, make it searchable etc, so that is an ongoing endeavor.  Then, to expand into a more diverse segment of the market, such as men’s wear for example.  Also, the considerations of adding an e-commerce component to it is on the cards, although these are far from decided as yet. I am in the early stages of working on an eco fashion exhibit that can tour and am also working on another eco fashion book. Lots of other exciting things that it’s not fair to talk about until their future is decided upon. I’m off to London fashion week now and Estethica and Eco luxe, the two green shows in the U.K this weekend!

Bhakti: I would love to host a similar presentation and book signing event in Australia and also a workshop in India. Would you be keen? Sass: Always interested in both of the above!

I wish Sass lots more success and shall continue to be her fan! For others who would like to keep in touch with Sass and Eco Fashion: Here are the links you should be clicking on right away: Facebook, Twitter, Website and Blog.

Can’t wait to witness one of her inspiring talks? Here’s a link to her a talk on behalf of the museum at FIT, about her book Eco Fashion presented at FIT in October 2010. This is 50 minutes of poor goodness and inspiration so make time for it before you continue J

Love and peace,

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »