All for sustainable craft

A design student talks about his journey to exhibiting his work at the Salone del Mobile Milan Fair, Italy

Published - December 31, 2021 10:01 am IST

Sachin Choyal with works from his collection Phaag.

Sachin Choyal with works from his collection Phaag.

Sustainability is a buzzword in the fashion industry today. But to truly find a sustainable practice in fashion design we have to delve deeper into the cultural practices that have existed over many decades. There are many household activities in villages where people utilise both pre-consumer as well as post- consumer waste. Apart from household activities, several craft practices also developed around the idea of upcycling and became a source of income.

One such is chindi rope making in some villages of Haryana. Locally the craft is called “ kaatr ki suthli ”. These artisans are usually employed in the agricultural sector and supplement their livelihood by making chindi rope products. I grew up in Haryana seeing my mother and grandmother work with textile waste. My final-year dissertation gave me an opportunity to develop an understanding of the sustainability of this craft. I also collaborated with handloom weavers of Rajasthan, to bring contemporary context to traditional craft practices.

Awareness of market requirements

Artisans usually work in isolation and are unable to cater to market demands, resulting in their work being underpriced. By creating an awareness of market requirements, my aim is to develop future-first fabrics that can be sold at competitive prices and give them an incentive to delve deeper into sustainable craft practices. If designers introduce new contemporary products and platforms for artisans, there is a chance to make disappearing crafts like chindi rope economically sustainable. This will also drive the younger generation of artisans to engage in the craft.

The first collection I developed was Phaag, which was displayed as part of The Lost Graduation Show at Salone del Mobile Milan Fair, Italy, and was also showcased at Artusi in Gurugram, India. The collection celebrates the Indian festival of colours using textile wastes and draws inspiration from the vibrant attire worn by the artisans and women in Rajasthan.

What started off as a mapping of sustainable practices of using pre- and post-consumer textile waste within rural communities of Haryana, developed into a study of multiple aspects of sustainability itself. The beauty of these colourful yardages is that none of the pieces are alike and each reflects the story of the material through varying colours and fibres. By focusing on quality instead of quantity, I inculcate a slow design process to ensure craft practices continue to thrive and benefit both artisans and the environment. These yardages can be put to use to produce fabric for home furnishing and apparels.

It was an incredible experience to represent my college, my country and my home craft at an international stage and I hope to continue to create work that changes the perception of crafts and textiles in the Indian and world design domains.

The writer is a Master’s graduate of The Design Village, NCR.

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