Winner of the International Woolmark Prize, 2018, fashion designer Ruchika Sachdeva is defining the narrative of sustainability. With her label Bodice, she is putting eco-conscious theories into practice. We catch up with her to discuss the way ahead for the fashion industry.
ELLE: How has the pandemic impacted you? What have been your introspections, self-revelations and discoveries?
Ruchika Sachdeva: The introspection that I have had in this time has enabled me to think about what is important in my life and what are merely distractions. It allowed me to consider and let go of the unnecessary facets of my life. An important self-revelation has been my appreciation for nature. The circumstances forced me to stop, think and breathe. The past few months have, in fact, been a reminder that a directional correction for us as a human race, is long overdue. Terms like ‘conscious consumption’, ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are no longer as esoteric as they once were. It is clear this relationship should no longer be non- reciprocal. The future is laden with uncertainty; the time to act is now.
ELLE: What do you see as challenges in your field?
RS: The entire edifice of the fashion industry is based on a certain system. For this system to be modi ed for the betterment of the environment is a challenge. This will require a lot of work and commitment, which I am hoping is underway. The biggest industries, let alone fashion, have been forced to re-evaluate their systematic processes and reconsider the implications they are having on the environment. Additionally, once the consumption patterns of people become more ethical, the burden on the fashion ecosystem is automatically reduced. Of course, the onus still falls on us as designers to continue searching for and making design solutions that are not detrimental, and have a scope to build a future which practices slow fashion.
ELLE: How do you see the Indian fashion community evolving to accommodate the new demands of the environment and sustainability?
RS: Increased consumer sensitivity, along with constant information about the adverse effects of fast-fashion, have led to a heightened awareness of the ramifications. The situation has definitely opened up the eyes of the industry. To progress further, it is important to restructure and align ourselves and our thought processes. The Indian fashion community will have to put on a global lens and, at the same time, stay true to its roots by employing the strength of the indigenous craftsmen, local raw materials and artisanal textiles. Designers also need to be more mindful of the ecological impact of the materials they use.
ELLE: How do you define ‘thoughtful fashion’?
RS: I think it’s high time we start to question the impact our choices are having on the environment. This responsibility of adhering to mindful choices has to be equally divided between those who are designers or brand owners and those who are consuming these products. Thoughtful fashion, for me, would be careful consideration of choices from seed to stitch for the designers, and the kind of products you choose, for the consumers. I feel like people are now beginning to understand how critical it is to incorporate sustainability into our lives and the conversation has been amplified. So I think yes, the Indian market is ready to make a shift towards conscious consumption as well as circular production in some capacity or the other.
ELLE: How are you #ImaginingTheWorldToBe post COVID-19?
RS: Besides an eco-conscious, sartorial landscape, I hope there is a greater realisation of how each one of us is a stakeholder. With everything going online, physical interactions, travelling, concerts, even something as simple as human touch will not be overlooked anymore. This, I am hoping, will make the world kinder and warmer towards not only the planet but also each other.