Ethical products: Shared Talent India, an enterprise in eco-fashion

More than 40% of fashion in the UK comes from India. With this in mind, The Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) at London College of Fashion has launched Shared Talent India, to help designers and buyers source sustainable fabrics in India by connecting them directly with suppliers.

India can be an ethical consumer haven when it comes to fashion as long as it is properly sourced. It is one of the few countries where age-old techniques of dyeing and embroidery are still culturally relevant.  Indian design has inspired designers all over the world and its traditional handicrafts play a critical role in uplifting rural India out of poverty.

Shared Talent aims to bridge the gap by putting in touch skilled artisans, suppliers and buyers from all over the world. It also aims to be a comprehensive resource for skills; from weaving to embroidery and materials, from cotton to silk and cashmere. It is a partnership between the Defra led Sustainable Clothing Roadmap and the Indian Government under the UK:India Sustainable Development Dialogue. Those involved include twelve designers, based in both the UK and India, suppliers of Indian textiles, buyers and undergraduates from London College of Fashion, Pearl Academy of Fashion Delhi and Amsterdam Fashion Institute.  The aim of the initiative is to work towards ecological, ethical and cultural innovation by creating fashion that connects designers and buyers to more sustainable textiles in India.

The Shared Talent website can put buyers in touch with a supplier database that features a range of businesses and organizations focused on developing a textile sector that is ecologically and socially conscious. Many of the suppliers themselves are innovative businesses that offer a forum for the development of traditional skills whilst combating environmental and social issues in the textile sector.

To be a supplier, you must meet several criteria when sourcing and supplying materials for fashion, whether production is on a local or global scale according to the project. Many designers from Marks & Spencer's, Accessorize etc have sourced from Shared Talent and this has increased the profile of the project.

The Shared Talent India website, is a dedicated online space for discussing key issues relating to sustainable sourcing in the subcontinent. The initiative hopes to get together more designers, suppliers and buyers in the future to increase the profile of sustainable fashion as well as to improve the lives of artisans.

With the market for ethical fashion said to grow, initiatives like these have a good future not just for foreign markets but also domestic Indian markets as well.

Photo:  Indian Fashion. Shaila Shankar ©