Weaving Social Change through Conscious Fashion

April 19, 2020 by Promit Ray

Sustainability is now a buzzword dominating the global agenda. The United Nations (UN) has adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), a blueprint for the welfare of the people and the planet. However, the concept of sustainability is still hazy and evolving, especially in the world of fashion.

It is no secret that the fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of humanity’s carbon footprint, more than that of international flights and maritime shipping combined. An equally worrying, but less emphasized, aspect of the fashion industry is its lack of social sustainability. Workers in the fashion industry, all along the supply chain, are often among the most exploited people in the world. As pointed out by Oxfam, living wages for workers would cost most international brands less than 1 % of the cost of the garment. The ideology of bringing environmental change and social justice to fashion, over the years, had led to the popularity of conscious fashion.

One of the pioneers in this field is Upasana, a clothing boutique committed to the principles of ethical business, fair trade, and social empowerment. Upasana is Uma Prajapati’s brainchild. Uma is a fashion designer living in Auroville for the past 20 years. She is an established activist and entrepreneur and has taught fashion internationally while heading several impactful social projects. She has been able to achieve the remarkable feat of driving a successful internationally competitive brand while remaining fiercely committed to her principles of social justice and environmental consciousness.

In this interview blog, I had the pleasure of talking to Uma about her design for change through Upasana. She talks about Upasana’s journey through the years and of Upasana’s scientific response to the COVID-19 crisis in its area of expertise.

Please listen to the interview below, I hope you enjoy it. We have split the interview into three parts for the convenience of our viewers. The whole video can be found here. We look forward to comments from subscribers and viewers on what aspects of conscious fashion they would like to hear more about. We intend to do a series of follow-up posts of Upasana’s newest initiatives from a scientific standpoint.

Promit Ray interviews Uma Prajapati, on behalf of Amicable Scientists, about her journey as a fashion designer and how she achieved social change through fashion. The interview touches upon the concept of conscious and sustainable fashion. Uma founded Upasana in 1997 and talks about how it rapidly turned into a hub for modern design and sustainable clothing over the years.

In her interview with me, Uma said that 8 billion clothes are made for 3 or 4 billion clients a year. She requested an edit to indicate that actually, she meant that 80 billion clothes are made for selected clients every year. Please interact with us with questions and thoughts for our future activities and stay tuned.

Post written by Promit Ray

Promit Ray is a passionate chemistry graduate with a love for scientific writing. He is passionate about observing and learning from patterns in data and greatly enjoys explaining complicated science simply. He is currently at the end of his PhD in computational chemistry at the University of Bonn, Germany following a masters degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India. A materials scientist by training, he writes on demystifying scientific concepts, careers, and life in the sciences, and generally aims to involve the community in popular science. Always happy to chat about science communication and new projects, he can be reached at promit@amicablescientists.org.

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