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Odisha’s sustainable fashion change

by Tanya Bhatia

“We consider our environmental footprint at every point of our design process” shares the sustainable fashion queen of Bhubaneswar. Continuing to set the bar high for social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry, recycling and giving new life to old textiles and discarded garments, Benorita Dash, a young fashion entrepreneur from Odisha, is already making a name for herself in the fashion industry.

Odisha Bhubaneswar Fashion models

The fashion industry in recent years have had a disastrous impact on environment. In fact, it is the second largest polluter in the world trailing the oil industry. With every evil there comes a saviour, with every problem, comes a solution. This problem of wastage in the fashion industry has given rise to an all new concept- ‘Sustainable Fashion’. The first step to slow fashion is asking WHY before you buy any small piece of cloth. Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere, is paying a heavy price. Being one of the first sustainable designers from the state, Dash wishes to be a role model in creating an ethical and eco-friendly benchmark in the fashion industry. She is a free willed but highly dedicated young damsel who creates and designs luxurious and sustainable womenswear with a particular focus on inclusive and petite sizing. Sustainable fashion is a field in which she was interested in since her childhood and despite plying her trade for a reputed fashion agency in Mumbai, this young entrepreneur decided to quit her job in order to chase her passion and she proudly declares, “There is no compromise when it comes to sustainability, and pushing boundaries is always at the forefront of Ladyben’s mission”

Odisha Fashion Dress

From exploring various dump yards to channelize her ideals of sustainable fashion, Dash has conducted her own fashion show Ladyben Spring Collection in Bangalore. She is determined to prove that sustainable fashion does not entail archaic products. Looks of the product we buy isn’t the entire picture of the frame. As civilized citizens, we must ensure that there is quality in the lives of the people who make them. Ethical fashion is the recognition of the fact that there are human beings and their labour behind the clothes that we wear.

Sustainable fashion is a design philosophy and movement that promotes environment and social responsibility. ”Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion”. There are several ways of producing ethical fashion and it falls into three categories- social, commercial and environmental. The most ethical way of fashion designing that blends both craft and culture is making of Patch works and other clothing items, out of waste material from different boutiques and factory waste. The vivid texture of fabric and sharp tailoring in her works prove that fashion can be both stylish and organic at the same time. Her mantra of building confidence amongst people and making them comfortable in an ethical and sustainable fashion is what makes her designs unique and eccentric.

On a brief interaction with people having the same insight and ideologies,THE BHUBANESWAR FASHION, she said,

“Since childhood whenever I saw beautiful women around me including my mother in that blurry textured fabric I got fascinated. Later I came to know it is called ikkat. In nutshell, I can say the pattern texture colour and finishing of the fabric that kept attracting me and my quest ended in this beautiful fabric called ikat.”

Ikkat is known for its finesses and exquisite craftsmanship. Historical research has evidence that it has roots in much of Asia and Africa. Research reveals that the world ‘ikkat’ word is derived from ‘Magnikat’ in the Malayan language. It means to ‘tie or bind’.” Today Odishan textile enjoys broader acceptability thanks to its typical weaving designs. There are different motifs and the fabrics are named after places like Sambalpuri sari and Nuapatna silk (a place near Cuttack). The motifs are inspired by natural elements such as flowers, trees, fishes and religious symbols like the conch. Her brand ‘Ladyben’ uses a patch work technique from Pipili with Pattachitra and Ikat.

Odisha fashion bag & shoes

To satisfy her quest of rural motifs, weaving and handlooms, Benorita Dash visited numerous villages of western Odisha namely- Subarnapur, Bargarh, Sonepur and Sambalpur districts. When asked about her findings she said that old weavers spend their whole life to sustain the art and it is passed as a possession from generation to generation. The weaving method also differs from place to place and weaver to weaver.

Being very passionate with her work, she tries to include ikkat in her products in any and every form possible.When it comes to technology she excels in Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and lightroom. Dash also possesses skills in photography, up-cycling, hand-painting and design process. She has a little child behind her charismatic aura and she is a free spirit who designs with an essence of handloom. Generally,in every village in and around Odisha,a family owns a handloom and they work day and night on creating beautiful motifs with ikkat. Sustainable fashion is defined as clothing, shoes, and other accessories that are manufactured and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into accounts both environmental and socio-economic issues. It makes you look elegant, lends a hand to help the ecosystem we live in and gives us a sense of a beautiful but conscious lifestyle journey.

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