Home / Lounge / Features /  Ritu Kumar’s sustainable comeback

Over the years, sustainability has become an important factor at fashion weeks across the country. Among the ingenious techniques and technologies with which brands and companies are making fibres, man-made textiles such as hemp, ramie, bioplastics and more have come to the fore very quickly.

A power player in this field is the Lenzing Group, which creates fibres using wood pulp cellulose. In 2018, it introduced Tencel, a soft and ventilated fabric that’s being used by brands such as Levi’s, H&M and House of Anita Dongre, to name a few. Designer Rajesh Pratap Singh collaborated with it at the LFW’s Winter/Festive 2018 edition, sending down the runway clothes where the fibre had been woven with Indian handlooms. At the LFW’s Winter/Festive 2019 edition, Lenzing launched another, similar viscose fibre, EcoVero, through designer duo Abraham and Thakore’s collection that reinvented the kurta.

Piece from Ritu Kumar’s ‘Nature’s Origami’ collection
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Piece from Ritu Kumar’s ‘Nature’s Origami’ collection

This year, designer Ritu Kumar has collaborated with Lenzing to use EcoVero for her collection at the LFW’s Summer/Resort 2020 edition. While Kumar had been showing her more youthful, ready-to-wear segment, Ritu Kumar Label, for the last few years, this will mark her classic, main collection’s return. The brand’s managing director, Amrish Kumar, says, “We have been a brand that has predominantly used natural fibres to connect with sustainability, so the collaboration felt apt." Titled Nature’s Origami, the collection is inspired by themes of tribal and contemporary art forms and prints, an aesthetic that Kumar has carved a niche for famously over 50 years. Her passion for art has also informed the collection’s inspiration from artist Mrinalini Mukherjee’s Phenomenal Nature, which consists of structured sculptures of flora made from knotted hemp. “More than her work, it’s about how Indian handicrafts use the technique of braiding", she says.

Piece from Ritu Kumar
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Piece from Ritu Kumar

The silhouettes are inspired by Origami but are uncomplicated, with clean lines and natural flora and fauna elements meeting geometric patterns, all rendered in rich vegetable-inspired dyes. “It’s exciting because for the first time, we have steered very clear from embroidery. The idea of origami is an allusion to self-sustained crochet techniques that have been practised in convents in Andhra Pradesh for a long time. We have tried to incorporate them in several ways, from restructuring the thread in the weaves in the form of a knit to plaited accents on the garments to give them a three-dimensional look. EcoVero is very amenable to these techniques," she says.

Avinash Mane, commercial head, South Asia, Lenzing Group, explains that EcoVero is created through an European Union Ecolabel certified, eco-responsible process that makes optimum use of water and energy resources, with minimal emissions. The wood, sourced from certified sustainable forests, is chipped before being dissolved in solvents. The resulting paste is run through spinners, giving it the form of a continuous strand, and then made into yarns. The fibre is compostable in soil and water and takes about six-eight weeks to decompose without releasing any micro polymers, which are still a big concern in the business.

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