Words like sustainability, circular fashion, upcycling and recycling may have entered the fashion vocabulary, but the

Words like sustainability, circular fashion, upcycling and recycling may have entered the fashion vocabulary, but the real challenge is to find fibres that have a low environmental impact and non-polluting processes. Call it the cotton paradox. Cotton is beautiful, breathable and defines our national narrative. It is also a water-intensive crop and may be overdependent on pesticides. Its processing footprint isn’t great either. According to the World Wildlife Fund, it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton T-shirt. You can go natural and biodegradable but that may not always add up to sustainability. The fashion industry, which is often accused of paying lip service to sustainability, is seeking alternative fibres. There are multiple considerations though: the fabric should be soft enough to cut, allow for drape and silhouette and be economical enough to scale up to collections or fast fashion. Beyond the “organic” labelling, sustainability encompasses a larger universe of environmental impact that includes energy sources, water consumption and transparent and responsible processing. Designer Hemant Sagar (of the label Lecoanet Hemant), who has launched a range ...