Fashion is often seen as wasteful and unethical because of many companies’ practices surrounding the manufacturing and destruction of their clothing. The entire fashion industry has recently often come under criticism for being a large contributor to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and excess garbage, which in turn hurts the planet.
Though one company aims to change these ideas. Dok tak keh, an Indian high fashion label manufactures luxury streetwear that is made entirely of reused scraps of fabrics. Created in December of 2018 in the neighbourhood of Pydonie, South Mumbai. Founders Juhi Melwani and Manisha Melwani aimed to use often tossed aside scraps of textile to create clothes that are more akin to artwork and museum artefacts than anything else.
Who are the key employees of Dok tak keh?
To begin, Juhi Melwani is the founder and head designer of Dok tak keh, she has a long history with the creation of eco-friendly fashion as well as fashion in general. She has an associate’s degree from the Parson’s School of Design for fashion and apparel design. Juhi also has a certificate from the University of Arts in London for Fashion and textile design. Lastly, Juhi holds an advanced diploma in fashion design from Raffles Design International.
Dok tak keh’s co-founder and stylist, Manish Melwani is equally as endowed with praise, as she has a masters in fashion entrepreneurship. She helps to style and support the new pieces made.
Moreover, the company is excellently staffed by people just like Masterji Intezaar Ali. He is Dok tak keh’s main pattern maker and garment engineer. Masterji has worked in the traditional clothing industry for over 20 years.
What kind of clothes does Dok tak keh create? And more importantly, why?
Dok tak keh’s clothing style is described as unique artwork with eye catching details. The luxury brand tries to use clothing as a medium for storytelling the lives of the working class of India. The brand picks seemingly ordinary parts of the communities’ lifestyles and recreates them into breathtaking art pieces using reused textiles.
The rugged surfaces give way to dramatic chic that mixes street styles and individuality. They are “high fashion, high-concept and unusual” as founder, Juhi Melwani describes, moreover she sees the label as, “Driven by a revolutionary sense of independence, it aims to liberate luxury fashion from vanity; to encircle an ‘un-glamourous’ version of beauty and to challenge some fashion-related norms. By adopting a noisy aesthetic of androgyny and ‘un-prettiness’”.
These ideas were inspired by everything that the founders saw as they walked through Mumbai. They wanted to highlight handmade Indian textiles, merge it into contemporary fashion all while creating conversations about sustainability for avante garde fashion in India.
How are the clothes made?
Every single piece has a history, as everything is made by hand by the staff of Dok tak keh. First they create patterns by hand and then spend thousands upon thousands of hours tailoring them.
Can high fashion be sustainable?
Of course! As with any large industry, eco-friendly adjustments can be made to help the planet grow and prosper. Dok tak keh is only one of many high fashion labels that are choosing to put the planet over profit.
Moreover, by using the social and economic power that each person has they can hold the brands they love accountable. This is not only extended to each companies’ environmental impact but also their social impact since many high fashion companies use unpaid and undocumented garment workers.
As the industry changes, high fashion companies such as Stella McCartney, Dok tak keh, Maison de Mode, Lâcher Prise, Nicholas K and even Gucci (though not completely environmentally friendly, the company is making large steps to reduce their environmental footprint) are good choices to make when choosing to buy high fashion items.
Here is a photo of Doh Tak Keh’s sustainable work:
Why does reusing textiles matter?
The fashion industry is the second most wasteful and pollution creating industry globally, only after the fossil fuel industry. Many of the clothing consumers buy is made out of plastic. This means that it will take at least hundreds of years to break down.
The current clothing consumption is actually rising. It is 400% higher than it was 20 years ago. This means that an American will produce about 82 pounds of textile waste in an average year. This is mainly because of the growing popularity of fast fashion.
Overproduction of new clothing is often cited as a large contributor to the waste. Fast fashion is especially guilty of overproduction, each day they are producing new clothing at insane speeds which are simply not made to last. Then, as the popularity of the item wanes, it is simply discarded and forgotten about.
Including fast fashion companies and traditional clothing companies, manufacturers create about 13 million tons of textile waste every year. In that 13 million tons, about 30% of the clothing are never sold and then thrown into landfill where they contribute to the waste that harms the planet.
Many of the companies that consumers buy from claim to be more eco-friendly than they truly are. The fast fashion companies that are so popular at the moment use many fossil fuels in their clothing which creates synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester, acrylic and spandex.
For reference, companies like these are known especially for their malpractice involving environment friendly actions. Shein, Mango, H&M, Boohoo, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Primark, Missguided and Victoria’s Secret are all companies that should be avoided when making decisions on who to buy clothing from.
Instead choose more accessible companies (these are not high fashion companies) like, Patagonia, TOMS, Plant Faced Clothing, and Lucy & Yak. If these are too expensive; reusing, recycling and buying from second hand stores is also a wonderful way to decrease textile waste.
As a consequence of the amount of waste produced by the textile industry, they produce a continuously devastating impact on the environment. This means that the industry is also a large contributor to climate change.
At the current pace only about 15% of the world’s textiles are being reused, recycled or donated despite about 95% of textiles having the ability to be reused or recycled. Remember: nothing is unsalvageable, especially for large textile companies. Currently, less than 1% of what is donated or collected from consumers is made into new clothing items.
In 2014 the number of garments created was seen to have doubled since 2000. Meaning they exceeded about 100 billion garments made. Though many of these garments were never worn. Companies like H&M came under fire for burning around 12 tons of unsold clothing each year since that date.
Textiles are one of the largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions. This is because when textiles are dumped into large landfills they release greenhouse gas emissions into the air because of the chemicals they are dyed with and created with.
As well as, each time it rains in a landfill, the chemicals and toxic materials in clothing also run into places like groundwater and pollute the water with chemicals, dyes and bleaches.
Textile waste also pollutes and destroys the environment as it uses large amounts of water, energy, fertilisers and pesticides. These items could very well be used for another task that helps the planet grow and prosper more.
It is currently known that recycling textiles can have as big of an impact as taking one million cars off the road every year. Meaning the more companies and people reuse their textiles, the more they can decrease their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint all while simply stitching their own clothing or fixing what they already have.
Moreover, the landfills that clothing companies ditch their products into are the third largest source of methane emissions in the US. Methane is a large contributor to global warming.
Recycling textiles, as Dok tak keh is currently doing, allows all the textile waste to also be redirected from the landfill. Textile recycling can be extremely beneficial to the environment as it lowers the need for landfills which produce methane.
The Impact of Recycling
By reusing these scraps that were previously only going to harm the environment, Dok tak keh is helping to significantly take away all that destruction, waste and pollution. Moreover, by doing this, other companies might follow suit, choosing to make environment friendly decisions because they see that they can still make a profit while also helping the environment and the land they live on.
Choosing to recycle and reuse textile fabric will not only help our current situation involving overwhelming climate change and the consequences of pollution but our future generations. As big companies and even small companies choose to make eco-friendly decisions they are helping to secure a world that can hold generations upon generations more people.
In many ways fashion and high fashion items allow each consumer to express themselves, this shouldn’t be destroyed as the industry changes. There are still a million ways to express yourself while keeping the planet and the future safe.