Author – Naina Dargan
Can a pair of jeans save our dying planet…
The need for eco-friendly apparel seems strange at least in India where the practice of reusing and recycling old clothes is still cherished by many. However according to reports by the Indian Textile Journal, our belief in recycling does not necessarily translate into action, as only 25% of the total textile waste in India gets recycled. Recycling is a viable option only for clothes that are wholly made up of biodegradable fibers such as cotton and wool, and therefore clothing brands that use synthetic fibers largely remain exceptions to waste management.
What makes the situation even more alarming is that majority of the clothing brands opt for either the mixing of fibers or use cheap non-biodegradables to cut costs. As a result, clothing has become the second most polluting industry in the world, preceded by oil. Recognizing the scale and cause of this fashionable mess, three individuals came together in 2013, to not only make raw denim that is biodegradable but to create an ecologically sustainable process of production, under the label KORRA.
What makes KORRA Raw Denim different?
At present, the garments industry is flooded with prewashed denim, i.e. jeans that are washed before sale for a faded or soft textured look. An average prewashed jeans utilizes a whopping 42 liters of water plus chemicals that add to its already high carbon footprint. Shyam Sukhramani, one of the founders of KORRA, explains how equally good-looking jeans can be made out of raw denim that requires no water and comes with a lower carbon footprint.
Korra’s raw denim jeans allows its wearer to develop a unique fade and texture with its use, making it eco-friendly yet custom-fashion. Sustainability is the cornerstone of operations at KORRA, right from using eco-friendly raw materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester yarn and raw denim to working on refurbished machines.
Based on the idea of ‘conscious choice’, KORRA aims at revamping the denim scene in India by making its users conscious of the impact that their everyday choices can have on the environment. In doing so, the makers believe that they can lead through example by adopting practices that are both, eco-friendly and socially progressive such as their single-tailor model.
Mass-production of jeans by big brands is done in the assembly-line method, where each tailor is responsible for only one of the numerous stages of production. This deprives tailors of their craft by converting them into micro-managed machines. Therefore, the founders at KORRA ensure that each pair of jeans is completed by a single tailor who gets full creative credit in the form of name tags against the jeans made by them.
While KORRA is a rare Indian product that can claim of being eco-friendly throughout, i.e. from construction, production, and design to packaging and post-consumption, their prices are unaffordable for a large chunk of the Indian population, only covering the upper middle class and elite section of the consumer market.
Market prices of raw, Khadi and prewashed denim
|Name of the Product||Market Price|
|Levi’s 501 (Original Fit Selvedge Denim Jeans )||INR 15,048|
|Denim Club India, Men’s Khadi (Hand-stitched and Eco-Friendly)||INR 9,999|
|KORRA Men’s (Vest Selvedge Denim Khaki)||INR 3,900|
|Denim Club India, Unisex Eco-friendly Light Weight Khadi Selvedge Denim Fabric||INR 3,489|
|Levi’s Slim Fit Jeans||INR 1,679|
|Pepe Jeans Men’s Slim Fit Jeans||INR 1,300|
|Lee Men’s Chicago Relaxed Fit Jeans||INR 765|
Although KORRA raw denim is certainly more costly than prewashed denim, KORRA jeans are affordable when compared to the raw denim produced by Levi’s and Denim Club of India. In fact, at INR3,900 one gets additional benefits like custom-designed jeans that are not provided by other brands. Moreover, it is the upper middle class and elite consumers that generate the majority of waste by simply throwing away clothes that go out of fashion and thus they can easily substitute them with eco-friendly and fashionable brands like KORRA.
The company currently has outlets in New Delhi and Bangalore, and has plans to expand overseas markets in Europe, USA, and Japan. Those who can afford should make the switch for those who cannot, so that eco-fashion is enjoyed without any compromises on the environment.