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Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI)

CMAI & SOFT Evangelise Sustainability in Fashion Industry

Organised the ‘Bharatiya' (Indian) A Legacy of Sustainability’ to Articulate Policy Suggestions under Civil20 India 2023 (G20)

Jun 12, 2023 15:16 IST 
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) and MKSSS’s School of Fashion Technology (SOFT) organised a two-day conference ‘Bharatiya' (Indian) A Legacy of Sustainability’ on 8th & 9th June 2023 in Pune (Maharashtra) to deliberate on sustainability in the fashion industry with an aim to contribute towards policies under G20’s Civil20 India 2023 working group - LiFE (Lifestyle For Environment).


All Dignitaries during the CMAI & SOFT Sustainability in Fashion Industry Conference


The conference has been organised as a part of the ‘Green Fashion India’ platform, which is authorised to encourage the fashion industry to embrace sustainable practices by YOJAK Centre for Research and Strategic Planning for Sustainable Development India - the designated coordinator of LiFE, working group of Civil20 India 2023 to promote social and economic development under the G20 initiative. ‘Green India Fashion’ platform has been actively fostering research and promoting initiatives in the field of sustainable fashion within the industry and academia.


Over 55 key dignitaries from the fashion industry in India, Germany, and the United Kingdom with extensive experience in sustainable practices in fashion participated in the two days conference. These contributors enthusiastically engaged in a variety of sessions, aimed at gathering crucial insights for policy recommendations.


Rajesh Masand, President, Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) said, “It is an honour to participate as the catalyst of this global collaborative movement that is of enormous significance to the environment and our future generations. As an representative association of the apparel industry in India we are looking at evangelising more than of 4000 members that largely comprise of apparel manufacturers and brands, and more than 20,000 retailers.”


Special Guest at the conference, Mr. Rahul Mehta, Chief Mentor of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India and Chairman of the Advisory Board Committee, MKSSS’s School of Fashion Technology (SOFT), said, “The fashion industry is gradually recognising the significance of sustainability in fashion and has begun taking initial steps towards it. Apparel manufacturers still face a lack of essential knowledge in this area, and there is currently minimal customer demand for sustainable products. Additionally, the costs involved in developing sustainable products serve as a significant obstacle. The conference serves as a platform for exchanging ideas and sharing best practices, aiming to raise awareness and foster an ecosystem where sustainability is given top priority.”


Adding to the sentiment, keynote speaker at the conference, Mr. Naresh Tyagi, Chief Sustainability Officer at Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited, said, “The rise of overconsumption and overproduction has caused traditional sustainability practices of Indians to fade into the background. Despite this, there is a noticeable shift towards sustainable fashion driven by informed Gen-Z consumers, investors, and regulatory initiatives. Nonetheless, there remains a significant need to enhance awareness on this front. It is encouraging to note that the government has taken steps to promote sustainability in businesses, which can serve as a catalyst for driving sustainable fashion in India.”


Keynote speaker at the conference, Mr. Manohar Samuel, Advisor, Research and Development at Reliance Retail, added, “Despite the ongoing discussions about sustainable fashion, the actual shift in consumer buying behaviour is yet to be fully witnessed. While there are isolated instances of sustainability excellence in India, it has not yet transformed into a widespread movement. This transformation can only occur when there is a strong connection established with consumers. Currently, many sellers casually employ terms like "organic" and "sustainable", leading to confusion among consumers. As an industry, there is a pressing need to define what sustainability truly entails and effectively communicate this clarity to consumers.”


While speaking about the importance of the conference, Mr. Nikhil Furia, Chairman of CMAI-SOFT Coordination Committee, expressed, “The deliberations made during this conference have culminated into a ten points recommendations paper that will now serve as the base of the policy dialogue between the G20 and C20 LiFE working group committees.”


Convenor of the conference, Dr. M. M. Hundekar, Principal, MKSSS’s School of Fashion Technology (SOFT), added, “With a rich cultural heritage of over 3000 years, sustainability has long been ingrained in Indian culture. As a result, India holds a prominent position in driving sustainable fashion globally. However, it is crucial to address the lack of awareness regarding sustainable practices within India's unorganized clothing manufacturing sector. Over time, the pursuit of cheaper products has led to the neglect of sustainable practices. Simultaneously, there is a need to educate consumers about making informed purchasing decisions and prioritizing sustainable products. By raising awareness and promoting sustainable choices, India can reclaim and revive its traditional practices, fostering a more sustainable fashion industry.”


The key recommendations put together during the conference are as follows:-

  1. Corporates in textile and fashion industry, to be requested, to use their CSR funds for sustainability and other developmental projects in collaboration with the academia. A mandate of at least a certain percentage to be compulsorily used as per above suggestion, will not only facilitate better academia and industry collaboration, but also create self-awareness and consciousness amongst corporates and industry, thereby serving a more meaningful purpose of use of CSR.

  2. Special policy for using natural resources which are imported from Foreign Countries, in this case it is it is imperative to protect the originality of regional natural resources for the benefit of earth systems (cotton seeds, silk tusser yarns are imported which have caused an adverse impact on the local materials. These locally available natural resources are losing out its existence.)

  3. Traceability and Transparency in the fashion value chain shall become mandatory though policies.

  4. The precise label systems giving information about the aspects that confirms health protection of the consumer shall be made mandatory.

  5. The artisans shall be supported with the mobile innovation and facility centers for protecting the intellectual heritage. (The value chain systems in the production of crafts have been observed causing damage to the earth and human systems since the artisans are situated in the villages, they are not grown for the technology and scientific approach however such mobile systems will reach to the door step of the artisans for improving the health of the craft.

  6. Separate consideration for natural/handmade against manmade/machine made. Rating systems and norms shall be different for these two categories. Further a rating system on the basis of carbon footprint as well as social sustainability shall be considered using star ratings. The first category can be named as Indian standard for sustainable textiles. The goods maintaining the standards shall be given priorities for CSR and financials benefits for government sites.

  7. Policies shall be centred to assess the health of the traditional crafts with respect to the materials, processes, and impacts.

  8. Vehicles to convey the sustainable aspects of crafts including do’s and don’ts shall be made visible to the consumers for wise and conscious choices. Mobile selling platforms such as “Crafts on Wheels” shall be encouraged for engaging upcoming crafts generations giving monetary benefits, recognition, and upliftment.

  9. The prominent fashion business centres shall be made to display sustainability mandates at the prominent places for consumer awareness.

  10. Fashion Organizations that encourage inclusive growth with social and environmental protection, special certifications to be initiated for the acknowledgement along with tax benefits and subsidies.

  11. Special facility Centres for Introducing “Circular Fashion Labs” (Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands) to engage Research, Innovation, Professional Education, Collaboration, Major - Minor Projects, vertical relationships, and networking within and beyond the fashion business.

Discussions during the conference include topics such as Circular Fashion, Sustainable Human Systems in Bharatiya (Indian) Fashion, Inclusive Growth vs Protection challenges in the present Fashion Business Scenario, and Protection of Traditional Legacy in handlooms, handmade and hand embroideries, Indian traditions and its impact on sustainability from the perspective of regeneration, among others.


Other dignitaries at the event included, Dr. Gajanan Dange, India Coordinator of LiFE and President of YOJAK Center for Research and Strategic Planning for Sustainable Development; Mr. Ravindra Deo, Chairman of Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha; and Arch. Mohana Kadam, President of Green Fashion India. Various other industry experts, academicians, NGO officials, brand owners, and fashion entrepreneurs, collaborated in deriving an action plan with sustainability at its core.


About CMAI

The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) is the most representative association of the Indian apparel industry having over 4000 members and serving more than 20,000 Retailers. Its Membership consists of Manufacturers, Exporters, Brands, and ancillary industry.


CMAI advocates regarding policies and also guides and encourages its members on ESG related matters and initiatives. In 2019, CMAI launched the SU.RE initiative to encourage members to embrace sustainability.


Established six decades ago, CMAI has contributed immensely towards development of the industry. In 1978, CMAI had led the creation of the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC). CMAI is also authorised by the Government of India to issue Certificate of Origin (Non-Preferential) to Exporters.


CMAI is the only Indian Association that represents the entire Indian Apparel Industry & Trade on prestigious international forums such as International Apparel Federation (IAF) headquartered in Netherlands.


Visit: | Follow Twitter: @CMAI_Official.

All Dignitaries during the CMAI & SOFT Sustainability in Fashion Industry Conference
All Dignitaries during the CMAI & SOFT Sustainability in Fashion Industry Conference
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