Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Crosscurrents: Land, Labor, and the Port. Textile Society of America's 15th Biennial Symposium. Savannah. GA. October 19-23. 2016.


Copyright 2016 by Sudha Dhingra


Green and sustainable practices are the future of fashion. It aims to nurture the environment through effective use of resources in order to minimize the cruel impact for both producer and customer. It employs techniques of environmental friendly ways of growing, extracting, producing and processing fabrics. Fashion industry as such involves highly unsustainable practices as there is always an urgent need to get faster and uniform results. It has a high carbon footprint as each stage of clothing lifecycle generates environmental and occupational hazards. Socially committed fashion takes into account the place of production, producers well-being and conditions under which the fabric or garment is made. It also takes care of fair trade practices, healthy ambience at work, transparent work culture and fair wages for all workers. It is possible to practice completely sustainable systems with concern for environment, society and commercial profitability in craft sector. This has been clearly evident in works of individuals, craft communities and organization.

Natural Dyeing in Craft Sector -- In India, traditional methods of textile production are still practiced which includes natural dyeing, handloom weaving and block printing which has ensured more original and economic production of small quantities of textiles to be custom made for a niche segment. A traditional craftsman is a storehouse of indigenous knowledge, which is not always documented. Some of these orally passed on traditions are lost forever, especially at this juncture, when the artisan is looking for avenues to cater to the tastes and needs of an unknown urban market. One such craft, which was taken up for research was the Aal (Morinda citrifolia) dyed, handloom woven textiles used mainly as sari by the women of the tribal societies and as turban or shoulder cloth by their men. Theses textiles have been made in India in Bastar in Chhattisgarh and the neighbouring Koraput in Odisha for many centuries. This central Indian region is also home to the tribal culture and traditions nurtured by the local ironsmith, weaver, potter and many other artisan communities.