Express News Service
CHENNAI : Reuse, repurpose and reconstruct are a few words that Karishma Sehgal reiterates in her visible mending workshop. She started The Baksa Project to practice and propagate sustainable fashion that can be in circulation to encourage recycling of clothes, instead of making compulsive purchases. Karishma has a Bachelors degree in management studies and Masters in fashion communication. She works with The Baksa Project on a full-time basis, and aims to get more young people conversant with sustainable fashion and debunk the misconceptions.
“Having studied fashion and seen the industry from close quarters, I learned about the dirty side of it – how there is so much abuse and exploitation that the workers toiling in sweatshops have to go through to mass produce apparels sold under labels of the biggest fast fashion giants, and how much global waste the industry adds. Being aware of this and not doing anything to address it felt wrong, and this was the biggest reasons for the birth of The Baksa Project, a few months back,” says Karishma.
Most consumers of fast fashion are young people who want to embrace trends at affordable prices. They think of sustainable fashion as inaccessible because of the high price and limited variety the brands offer. Karishma wants to educate buyers that sustainable fashion is not always expensive. “It does not have to be limiting in terms of style and expression.
You can be the most stylish person in town and still style yourself with sustainable clothes. I believe we should look at it less from the perspective of being a ‘trend’ and more from the perspective of being a necessity,” she says. The concept of upcycling isn’t new to Indians. For generations, we have been mending, repurposing and reusing clothes — turning old saris into quilts and kurtis, or patching torn garments with pieces of scraps. “With the rise of consumerism and fast fashion, we have started to look at clothes as disposable commodities as they are cheap. We no longer feel the need to repurpose because replacing damaged garments with something new seems easier,” she says.
Karishma conducts workshops on mending techniques, narrative embroidery, and textile collage. Give her a shirt with a stain and she’ll do a patchwork embroidery on the portion. She has come up with interesting innovations by transforming her mother’s old saris into a summer flare dress, a wrap-on skirt, a jacket and a coat.
Unlike most fashion-conscious people who keep revamping their wardrobe, Karishma is a collector. She does not dispose garments unless they’re absolutely unnecessary. For instance, she upcycled a jacket with textile collage and embroidery using fabric scraps and a broken piece of junk jewellery. “I love fashion and I love how it allows me to express myself. It can be empowering. As a fashion lover, I also feel it is my responsibility to treat my clothes with respect; to treat their makers with respect. Adopting a circular approach to fashion – reusing and repurposing clothes increases their lifespan, prevents them from being dumped in landfills.”
Instagram page: The Baksa Project
- Go over your mom and grandmom’s piles of old cotton saris and turn them into flowy and breathable summer dresses with your local tailor’s help.
- Your dupattas can alternate as unique wraparound skirts just by using simple draping techniques.
- Instead of getting rid of clothes with minor damages, use techniques like embroidery, darning, and textile collage to mend and add personal touches to them.