By Vishal Gulati
Nairobi, March 14 (IANS) Circular Design Challenge 2019 winners designer duo Stefano Funari and Poornima Pande showcased their winning collection ‘I was a Sari’ on the sidelines of the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in the Kenyan capital.
The designers shared their experience with a global audience of stakeholders leading the charge of sustainability on Wednesday evening.
“It’s great that through Circular Design Challenge, we have got the exposure and a platform like UN Environment Assembly to showcase our collection and the story to such a wide audience,” Pande told IANS.
“Of upcycling and social impact that can catalyse so much more collaboration and can inspire so many more to take the path of sustainability in fashion,” an elated Pande, 33, added.
Her co-designer Funari, 50, said: “Now I feel better about the future of sustainable fashion and I’m even more motivated about pushing our agenda: women empowerment and upcycling, but never forgetting that fashion has to be desirable and so are our products.”
‘I was a Sari’ was adjudged the winner of the Circular Design Challenge Award, India’s first award for sustainable fashion at Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Summer Resort in January.
The duo work with underprivileged community of women in Mumbai using upcycled pre-loved saris.
Their designs utilise existing resources in terms of fabrics and materials and reinvent them into unique pieces.
Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) ‘Fashion for Earth’ programme, Lakme Fashion Week and UN Environment India collaborated to launch the Circular Design Challenge in August 2018 to encourage designers and entrepreneurs to use innovative ideas by using materials from diverse waste sources, including plastic.
This initiative unravelled the country’s first award for circularity in fashion promoting sustainability across the value chain and inspiring innovation and offering solutions to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion and textile industry in the country.
The ‘I was a Sari’ installation was showcased a day prior to the global launch of the UN Alliance on Sustainable Fashion at the Sustainable Business Expo.
The alliance commits to changing the path of fashion, reducing its negative environmental and social impacts and turning fashion into a driver for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The fashion industry is currently the second-biggest consumer of water, producing 20 per cent of wastewater, and is responsible for 8-10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
UN Environment India Country Head Atul Bagai said: “It is evident from the Circular Design Challenge winning collection ‘I was a Sari’ showcased at the UN Environment Assembly that circularity in fashion has unprecedented benefits not just for the fashion industry and business but also for the environment.”
“Circular fashion can and should be mainstreamed to drastically reduce the fashion and textile industry’s environmental footprint.”
Reliance Industries Chief Operating Officer Vipul Shah said: “We started off with our Fashion for Earth programme in India. Now, we are elevating the programme to a global level by participating in the UN Environment Assembly to promote the concepts in all industries.”
(Vishal Gulati is in Nairobi at the invitation of the UN Environment. He can be contacted at [email protected])