Denim, But Make It Sustainable: Nece Gene Responsibly Creates Fashionable Denim Wear
Through decades of dynamic fashion, denim has managed to stand firm and make its presence felt to the entire industry. Once synonymous to just pants, denim successfully made its way into other garments such as jackets, overalls, dungarees, and so much more.
The beloved fabric, while is one of the most versatile ones out there, is also a fore-runner in causing immense pollution. The documentary The RiverBlue: Can Fashion Save The Planet? reveals that approximately 70 per cent of Asia’s rivers are polluted by the continent’s textile industry’s wastewater. The rivers containing the toxic water make their way through small towns, making clean water unavailable to those who live there, all while hampering the biodiversity and its various constituents.
However, not all hope is lost. Similar to our other walks of life, there is a sustainable option for denim, too. Neha Celly, founder of denim design and research house Bluehemia recently began a denim brand, Nece Gene. In collaboration with Arvind Mills, the brand is 100 per cent sustainable.
“Being involved in the denim industry for a long time, I always saw the downside our jeans brought. Most companies still use toxic chemicals in the indigo dyeing process and use huge amounts of water in growing cotton and also in giving the ‘worn out’ look in our jeans,” says Neha.
The idea of slow fashion is something that has seen a slow yet significant growth as the perils of fast fashion are made evident to the masses. There is always an alternative way, and Nece Gene provides one for denim. As Neha would agree, the pandemic and its consequential lockdowns proved to us that we can make do with a lot lesser than we think, and the same value may very well be applied to fashion too, specifically denim. She is of the belief that recycled or upcycled fashion is not going to be a mere trend going forward- with more people getting conscious, it’s going to be the way of life.
Nece Gene’s collection was subjected to many challenges, all thanks to the ongoing pandemic. Despite this, the brand was chosen as one of the 15 sustainable brands at Helsinki Fashion Week 2020, which became the world’s first 3D digital fashion show. While the physical collection is yet to reach completion, the digital one is already up for sale!
Although the trend has not caught up in India yet, there exists a group of people that make full use of a digital collection. “There are some people who buy these digital pieces either for social media appearance, gaming industry or just for setting a trend! The ‘digital apparel’ or ‘cyber couture’ does happen to be most sustainable as it’s not created with any physical material. No landfills and pollution caused by it,” Neha explains.
While we must understand that a sustainable garment is one that is part of, and promotes a circular economy rather than a linear one, Neha provides us with a perspective that makes things clearer. She says, “The most sustainable garment is the one that’s not created in the first place, especially in a time when there’s an abundance of brands and products. The second most sustainable garment is the one that’s made with no new raw material and is only recycled.”
The idea of sustainability and its practice may seem daunting but a little patience and some mindfulness can go a long way.
Having to change the way we live and the way we consume things on an individual level may be a big ask, but in the grand scheme of things, it is a small price to pay. Making the switch to slower consumption and buying habits can collectively lead to a great deal of good. Although it is imperative now more than ever to be conscious of our choices and practices, it does not mean that we are forced into giving up aspects of our lives we hold dear to us.
Neha happened to be in a position where she witnessed firsthand the damage that the denim industry causes, and decided to do something about it — “Being in the denim industry, I know what goes into making a pair of jeans. So I’m doing my bit to make people conscious of their choices. Sustainability doesn’t need to come at the cost of design.”
Now, all we have to do is decide to do something about it too — whether that be in the way we consume, produce or well, live.
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