For a billion-dollar industry, fashion and textile companies play a huge role in our economy, but apart from the generating revenue, the industry is also responsible for emitting 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gasses annually, according to a report by Quantis, apart from the massive carbon footprint they generate. Sustainability is considered as the norm of the future, and to provide a platform to upcoming brands with innovative solutions, Lakme Fashion Week partnered with R Elan’s Fashion For Earth and UN Environment to launch Circular Changemakers Showcase.
India’s first investment readiness program and pitch event for sustainable and circular fashion entrepreneurs, five shortlisted innovators got a chance to pitch their brand and business model to the jury. The panel was a mix of experts from different backgrounds, from homegrown establishments like Aasha Impact to global brands like H&M Co:Lab.
Jaspreet Chandok, Vice President and Head of Fashion at IMG Reliance said, “This is the first edition of the Circular Changemakers program which aims to evolve mindsets, create conversations and support circular fashion enterprises through strategic collaborations and investments. We have seen innovative prototypes ranging from alternative fibers, efficient waste management systems to using big data to decode consumer demand for fashion. We’re extremely excited for our changemakers to pitch their models which will help them build their prototypes into sustainable solutions.”
Innovative ideas like creating sustainable textiles from agriculture waste to recycling shoes or coming up with an AI system that predicts the market demand to reduce leftover garments, amongst others, were presented at the event. For instance, Shikha Shah’s Canva Fibre Labs is an initiative to create hemp fabric from agricultural waste. Although this fiber already exists, according to Shikha, they are five times higher than the cost of cotton and not compatible with present machinery, and she plans to solve all those problems with her fabric. On the other hand, Shriyansh Bhandari’s Greensole attempts to reduce the burden of landfills and recycling used, rejected and unsold shoes to create new ones. “Globally, there are billion-dollar companies like Alward and Toms which are selling footwear from natural material but there is no such company in India and that’s where we want to come in,” says Shriyansh. The company is also planning to tie up with corporate and government to source and provide recycled shoes.
A lot of attention goes into finding the right, sustainable material, reducing carbon footprint during production and also reducing waste production, but if the final product doesn’t sell, all this hard work goes to waste. Providing an innovative solution to solve the demand and supply paradox, Ganesh Subramanian came up with an AI technology, which studies various factors to predict the demand of a particular garment in order to save companies from under or overproducing. “Just because we are unsure of the product, we either overproduce or under produce. So, we also have another technology where a retailer or a brand can upload a picture of any product which they are planning to bank on for the future season and Stylumia can predict what is going to be the sale percentage of the product,” says Ganesh. The jury was visibly impressed with the pitches by the young innovators but they didn’t let them off easily. The participants were grilled by the jury who asked about their business module, revenue prediction, dealing with competitors along with other technical questions.