Fashion Must Turn Off The Taps

Fashion Must Turn Off The Taps

Dowe ever wonder while wardrobe shopping about who made your clothes, how was the process done or where were our clothes made, or the water consumption during the manufacturing process?

The elixir of life may be, but not many of us stop and think about how much water was consumed while manufacturing our clothes or any other of our favourite items. We wear it and flare it.

But water is being consumed in large amounts by the fashion industry. The fashion industry is also known to be one of the most polluting industries in the world. Let’s take a second and reflect on the water footprints on our clothes. 

According to the UN, it requires 7,500L - 8,00L of water in the manufacturing of one pair of denim jeans. According to Levi Strauss, 33.4 kgs of CO2 is created throughout the lifetime of one denim pair of jeans.

To understand this better let us first dive into understanding the process of manufacturing types of denim, in brief.

The cotton is grown and harvested, where 1 kg of ginned cotton requires 1,214 L of water to irrigate and brush into yarns. These yarns are then dyed, usually in synthetic indigo dyes. Large balls of cotton known as ‘ball warps’ are repeatedly dipped into a vat of dye, forming dye layers. The cotton yarns are then coated with a starchy sizing paste to stiffen them. The yarns are then woven into a fabric. To give these denim jeans a faded or worn-out effect, it is then washed with enzymes or stone-washed. Acids and chemicals are used to give these effects. To get the denim jeans into a wearable condition, they must be washed several times to get rid of the chemical elements.

The water-intensive manufacturing process is especially worrying at a time like this when the world is running short on fresh water, thanks to climate change. According to a Central Groundwater Board survey, India is currently facing a rapid decline of approx. 52% in groundwater levels across all states.

Enough of problems, let’s talk solutions!

What can we do as a consumer? We can also play a part in exercising positive choice with our money with brands like MUD Jeans, Ka-ShaCreations, and Levi Strauss, which are genuinely working towards sustainable fashion and which are transparent about their ways and honest about the environmental impact of their products, or we could switch from denim to organic cotton trousers.

But, the most effective solutions to overuse of the resources across the fashion industry are fewer garment constructions, comfortable and better quality products, and long-lasting clothes to be produced and for us, as consumers, to shop less and consciously and to love and wear the clothes we have for longer periods. 

Another solution to this would be making future designers aware of their responsibilities towards the environment is one of the major roles to be played by the youth. The students of SAGE University, Bhopal visited the Bhaskar Denims Pvt. Ltd. to understand the processing of denim and witness through their own eyes the amount of water consumption involved in the manufacturing process. Visits of these kinds make the students more aware of their choices rather than reading about the harmful effects of the water footprint.

These designers will be out in society in the future with a fresh perspective and conscious mind.

Trends change, but the amount of water present on the earth does not. We must do everything we can to reduce not just our water footprint but our carbon footprint as well.

Thinking about our wardrobe choices isn’t a bad place to start.


Vanshika Khare
Asst. Professor
School of Design
SAGE University, Bhopal

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