Fashion Revolution Week 2021 - Who Made My Fabric?
Who Made My Fabric?
19-25 April 2021 is Fashion Revolution week, which happens every year in the week surrounding the 24th of April. This date is the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse. This year, Fashion Revolution's new campaign poses an excellent question - who made my fabric? Given my great grandparents were silk farmers in South China and my mother worked as a garment maker, we care passionately for the people who make our fabrics and clothes.
I think many people underestimate the role fabric plays in our lives. Turning natural fibres into cloth is a much more complicated and lengthy process than most people think. It also plays a vital role in society. I have written about the importance of silk farming in previous posts, particularly in women empowerment and rural marginalised communities' socio-economic development. In this post, we would love to share with you who made our ethical silk fabric.
Making of Organic Peace Silk From Farm to Fabric:
Our organic peace silk (also known as Ahimsa silk) is native to the people and the land of Jharkhand, known as "The land of the forest" in India. Everything from the perennial plants that feed the silkworms, rearing, processing cocoons, and producing our hand-spun yarns happens in the small villages in the northeastern part of the Indian state.
Sericulture (or silk farming ) is an agro-based industry for silkworms' gathering and harvesting of the cocoon to collect the raw materials. A two-step process typically characterises it: 1) the cultivation of Mulberry or Arjun trees and 2) the rearing of silkworms on Mulberry or Arjun leaves to produce cocoons.
Regenerative Organic Farming for Organic Peace silk
The farmers practise regenerative organic farming methods, which means they prioritise soil health while simultaneously encompassing high animal and human welfare standards. They prepare the land between Mulberry /Arjun plantation, planning multiple crops such as potatoes, rice and maze for harvesting without using chemical fertilisers or pesticides. The diversity of plant species increases microbes in the soil and supports the biological ecosystem.
Rearing of silkworms
From the hatching to its entire growing stage, silkworm rearing is an extensive month-long exercise starting from egg, pupa, adults, and non-feeding stages. The whole life cycle spans through 45-55 days with 10-12 days of the egg stage, 25-30 days of the larval stage, 2-3 cocoon spinning days, 5-7 days as pupal duration and 4-5 days in the adult stage. Tasar silk, the silk used in Ethical Kind's nightwear collection, is traditionally raised outdoors on plantations of food trees.
The farmers carefully patrol the farmland to protect the caterpillars from predation and damage. The farmers place a large mosquito netting over the trees to protect from prey to keep the young silkworms safe from harmful insects or birds.
Once Tussar silk cocoons are ready, the cocoons are hung vertically from the ceiling using jute strings. In approximately one week, silk butterflies (moth) hatch out themselves. After checking each empty cocoon, the cocoons forwarded to our degumming department.
Degumming is the process of removing the "gum (sericin)", a sticky substance produced by the silkworm that holds the strands of silk together. Our farmers do this by adding natural bio soap in the hot boiling water. Occasionally hydrogen peroxide is used to make different shades of silk yarn uniform. This is eco-friendly and approved by REACH & GOTS. The use of toxic metals during the degumming process or 'silk- weighting' to make silk yarns heavier by including Chromium, Barium, Lead, Iron or Sodium magnesium is not permitted and wholly forbidden in the production.
Silk reeling is a process of unwinding the filament to produce raw silk from the cocoon. Our highly skilled reelers do this manually, using special solar-powered reeling machines where filaments from several cocoons are wound off together onto a common reel.
Silk Twisting and Spinning
Now that reeling has completed, the silk yarn is removed from the reels. Our skilled spinner would then twist the silk into spiral circles using a spinning wheel to form bundles. This yarn bundle is then ready to be dyed or woven into fabric.
Our highly skilled weaver uses the yarn and weaves it into a perfect conscious luxury silk fabric; this artisan skill is an ancient art of making cloth and an intrinsic part of Indian culture.
To obtain colour for the fabrics, we use GOTS-certified low-impact dyes. These dyes react quickly on the material; the colour is fast and permanent. The low-impact dyes have a high absorption rate. It requires less water in the rinse process, and less dye is let out in the water, resulting in less impact on the environment. Our skilled dyers' silk soaked the silk material overnight and sometimes for several days before applying the dye. Then, the dye liquid is heated, and the fabric is immersed for some time.
For a fabric pattern, as seen with the white lotus print kimono, the fabric is passed through a digital printer using GOT certification approved dyes, which meets all the compliance for a sustainable, high-quality print. The printing is water-based, eco-friendly, non-hazardous and toxin-free.
If you would like to learn more about our fabrics or have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.