Arty-Facts about Indian Handicrafts

  • How to build a sustainable wardrobe

    For some of us the word ‘sustainable’ sounds a little daunting. It did for me for a while, because I wanted to do it all together and perfectly right. And that is not the right way. Small steps with the right intention is the way to go. No point beating ourselves up, wallowing in guilt and then shunning the concept altogether.

    Sustainable means sustenance of something over a long long period of time such that it is not exploited but used consiously and replenished at a rate greater than or equal to the usage. This definition usually applies to the resources of the Earth.

    By a sustainable wardrobe I mean a wardrobe that’s manageable, loved, cherished and nurtured for a good period of time. Hope that doesn’t sound too daunting.

    You can do that (as in have a sustainable closet) when you have a small stock of things that you really value and love, stuff that looks great on you, stuff that you consciously invest in for long term usage and stuff that reflects who you really are (most clothes you own should – more on this in another blog soon)

    What better time than now to start and focus on things have never really got our attention. These lock-down times are perfect because firstly we (mankind) are here because of unabashed exploitation of available resources and the abuse of our power over other species. It is the time to think about how each of us SHOULD do our bit to restore ecological balance. With so much time on our hands now, we have time to think about what REALLY matters to us, time to do away with the clutter and most importantly due to the scarcity of supplies and a number of things, appreciate the essentials and care for them.

    Also, when you have less, you can spend some more time/ energy and money on procuring and safekeeping that less; than splurging on the many of no value.

    So back to the topic, I was cleaning up my cupboard as a lot of us are doing these days and while I’ve always been a conscious shopper I see that I have over time changed in my tastes and thus accumulated a lot of things that I no longer wear. Yet I had continued storing them in the anticipation that I might wear them again someday.

    So I can classify clothes that I didn’t use any longer like -

    • Stuff that fit me but I no longer wear because it’s out of style or of a material that I no longer prefer.
    • Stuff that doesn’t fit
    • Stuff that I use once in a while

     They were just taking up the space in my cupboard and my life. They were not really appreciated and lay there mostly unused.

     So what can we do with these?

    • Material issues of clothes that still fit me could be sorted out by a CLOTHES SWAP. It’s a concept that’s starting to gain some momentum in India. Pre-loved clothing can be re-loved by someone else, provided you have cared for and really loved it. Look for some friends or maybe host a Clothes Swap in your society or neighborhood. A lot of it happens in India around Navratri anyways. This is about doing it all year around. You could also do it in your school/ college or even workplace.
    • Next is clothes that are out of fashion completely. These days a lot of jewelry is being made from cloth scrap. These are very much in vogue. There are NGOs using scarps of clothes for small coin pouches/ slings and wallets. These can be recycled into bags or runners or cushion covers or even donated as such.
    • Clothes that don’t fit you again fall into the above category. If they are well cared for, please donate them to someone who can be well-dressed using them. Else recycle.
    • Clothes that are in good condition and in vogue, can and should be altered and re-worn.
    • Upcycle – This is a big one guaranteed to give you satisfaction. Upcycle your clothes to add touches of embroidery or add applique patches or take that plain silk saree/dupatta and get it painted upon and I’m certain you’ll love the new avatar.

     If you really think you have no use for it – DONATE THEM TO AN NGO. Wouldn’t someone else be happier with them, wouldn’t it add more value to some else who actually needed them?

     So the key words here are – SWAP/ UPCYCLE/ RECYCLE/ DONATE

     Let’s come to What you really need.

    Your regular daily wear stuff – your essentials – whatever they may be. Should be few and well cared for. How many should these be? We’re coming to that shortly 😊

    Occasional wear stuff – these should be mostly timeless pieces, high on quality and durability, and such that if they do stop fitting can be repurposed.


    To buy or not to buy?

    Ideally, don’t buy again. Embellish (upcycle) Reuse, Repurpose and alter as stated above.

    When you do buy again – ask yourself these questions

    1. Can I wear this at least for a couple of years if not more with more than 40/50 (min) wears a year and of a cut/style that will stay relevant for that period.
    2.  Will it go with most other accessories I already own or can these be paired with what I own already

     If the answer to the above is Yes, then you can go ahead and buy it. This means that you will not be buying fast fashion. Fast fashion is usually low number of wears and very style season specific and not timeless.

     If your buy qualifies the above 2 criteria, try and buy local from local stores or businesses or boutiques that makes custom dresses, which will also help you refashion the product later and buy high quality durable pieces. 

    This also means that you won’t need more than 10 -12 items of clothing (separately for top and bottom) or lesser than 20 when put together. I know this might seem very less to some of you, but it is time to go minimal. Time to save resources, buy consciously and less.

    Time to clear the clutter and know what really matters and to value it.

    So when you do go cleaning your wardrobe in these few days. Do keep the above in mind. Give your stuff away to the homeless and the poor (once the lockdown in over)

    And if you can’t find yourself giving away stuff that qualifies for giveaways, don’t stress. Hold on. You need to be happy with your decisions and hence keep it a little longer – once you see it again in 6 months of whenever you go in to reorganize your closet, you’ll possibly be happier giving it away!

    Go ahead now, take your steps towards making a cleaner greener wardrobe and planet! 

    We at Advaita Handicrafts refashion dupattas/ sarees and dresses by adding applique patches, hand painting them and provide artisans with work for living respectably. You can reach out to us on the contact details provided. 

    Here's some of our work. Enjoy! 



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