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Fashion for Peace at New York Fashion Week

Fashion for Peace at New York Fashion Week

Posted by : Talia Eisenberg   /  

10,000: the number of years to develop 120 distinct, hand-loomed Indian textile

50: the number of distinct weaves that are at risk of being extinct within 50 years

98%: the amount of fiber on the entire planet that is synthetic

This is why Indian mystic and environmentalist Sadhguru founder of the Isha Foundation launched the “save the weave” movement at NYFW this week: an effort to not only preserve the thousands of years of culture that’s established these beautiful patterns, but also a response to the fast fashion industry’s toxic manufacturing processes.

At the close of NYFW at the Fashion for Peace show, Sadhguru and designers Mara Hoffman, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Mimi Prober, and Norma Kamali invoked the idea of marrying fashion and higher consciousness: the designers showcased their pieces made from responsibly sourced fiber, while Sadhguru honored Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birthday.

Sadhguru believes that beauty lies in lack of repetitiveness; in social creation, he says,“the perfection is not in the repetitiveness; the perfection is that everything is different.” True creation never repeats itself – you will never find a leaf in nature that is exactly the same as another – why should the epitome of beauty in the fashion, social, and economic realms be any different?

By bringing back natural weaving processes, along with natural fibers and sustainably sourced fabric, Sadhguru believes the fashion industry could change entirely. When respected designers such as Norma Kamali and Mara Hoffman take up the cause for natural clothing and sustainably sourced textiles, harm to the environment will be reduced while socioeconomic factors will be improved.

Synthetic Fashion is Killing Creativity – and the Environment.

98% of all fiber currently produced is synthetic – entirely machine-made. Fashion is one of the top three polluting industries in the world, following only behind the oil industry and agricultural industry. There’s an overwhelming amount of chemicals used to dye, treat, and process fabrics – aside from the unnatural fibers themselves that make up the fabric.

Studies have shown that cancers can be linked to the production and wearing of synthetic clothing:

  • Polyester: components in the polyester fabric are able to enter the body through the skin, including phytoestrogens, which “act as endocrine disrupters and also cause certain types of cancers.” What’s more, the fiber itself is not good for the skin: it is a bad conductor of heat and sweat, making it the cause of acute skin rashes, itching, and redness. Polyester has also been linked to chronic respiratory infections and reproductive system disorders.
  • Nylon: formaldehyde, titanium oxide, and sulphates are all toxins present in nylon. Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, causes skin allergies; delustrants (such as titanium oxide) and barium sulphate cause rashes, dermatitis, and are linked to negatively impacting the central nervous system via symptoms of disorientation, dizziness, headache and spine pain. Aside from direct effects to the body, production of nylon emits greenhouse gases such as nitric oxide, which impact the environment.  
  • Spandex: Because spandex doesn’t absorb sweat, dyes and formaldehyde used are released from the fabric and are absorbed by the skin, often causing allergies and dermatitis. What’s more, since the sweat sits between the fabric and the skin, the skin becomes a breeding ground for bacteria – causing inflammation and infection of the skin.
  • Rayon: created by treating cotton winters or wood pulp with toxic chemicals, rayon releases toxic chemicals as byproducts which have been linked to dizziness, paralysis, nausea, vomiting, and more.
  • Acrylic: acrylic fiber is often used for sweaters and tracksuits and as lining for gloves and boots.The production of acrylic uses the solvent DMF when spinning the fibers, which has been linked directly to liver damage.          

What’s the alternative to these synthetics?

These synthetic fibers are not the only fibers available for textile production – they have just become the fastest and cheapest– but at what cost? All these chemical byproducts are entering our ecosystem while fast-fashion is reducing the very art and history that the couture industry aims to uphold.

By “saving the weave” through the elevation of hand loomed weaves that may have otherwise gone extinct, the market for organic, artisan clothing is blossoming.

Have you seen our nettle clothing and accessory collection? We at Seam Siren believe in the future of a clothing industry where natural fibers such as nettle, cotton, flax, linen, and rute can be handwoven (and sometimes machine woven in the interest of time – without the need for chemical processing) without harmful toxins that wreak havoc on our bodies and the environment. By bringing awareness to the health value of natural fabrics and the devastating effects of synthetic fabrics to ourselves and our planet, Sadhguru believes a lasting change can evolve.

Slowing down fast-fashion allows the creators of these textiles to put “life and experience into the cloth.” As Sadhguru puts it, “it’s not just a product, it is an outpouring of a human being. And we need to see more and more of that in the world, if we have to have some meaning to our lives.”

If more of the fashion industry were to shift values toward organic, non-synthetic garments, the market for synthetic and harmfully produced textiles would shrink. The job market for textile producers – real humans, not machines – would expand, improving the socio-economic climate while preventing further damage to the environment by reducing the harmful byproducts of synthetic production.

It all starts with us – we must demand a better quality of fabric for ourselves and our futures. By valuing the perfection of real creation – not machine creation – the fashion industry has the power to literally change the world – and save the weave.


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