It is high time that we shift towards sustainability if we ever want a chance to save our planet. If we keep going on the way we are, the oceans will have more plastic in them than fish. The fashion industry, however, has taken some drastic steps towards saving the planet and come up with eco-friendly clothing lines. Many brands such as Grassroots, Nicobar, Doodlage, H&M and Alcis have come forward with sustainable clothing lines. We spoke to Roshan Baid, Managing Director, ALCIS Sports to know the 101 about sustainable clothing.
You are mainly venturing into sportswear but sportswear needs to be airy, will these clothes be able to cater to that requirement?
We have made our sportswear range keeping in mind the Indian sensibilities and extreme weather conditions. Our range of apparels have many other built-in technologies such as ALCIS DRYTECH+ technology which keeps you cool and dry and allows garment to breathe whilst wicking moisture away from the body. ALCIS ANTI ODOUR is an antimicrobial technology which neutralises body odour and protects from odour causing microbes, delivering unparalleled, long lasting freshness. ALCIS LIGHT-X is the combination of fabric, trims and construction to make the garment light. It feels like you are wearing nothing at all. Our Wonder Tee range is one of the lightest and weighs only 86 grams.
Where did the idea of using plastic bottles for making shirts come from?
Alcis Sports was incepted around two and a half years ago to cater to the growing Indian sportswear market. We see ourselves as a challenger brand and want to tap the emerging potential of the Indian sportswear market bringing the best of style and comfort suited specifically for the Indian sensibilities and weather, along with international quality at Indian prices.
The idea for our Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range was born from the growing need of making environment-friendly products. Plastic waste and the toxins associated with it is a real issue confronting all of us. Generally T-Shirts are made of Polyester - a man-made fibre, production of which involves huge quantities of water, chemicals and use of fossil fuels. Moreover, the raw materials and by-products are toxic and it pollutes water and air, causing several health hazards. Therefore, we thought of using R-PET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) for our Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range, which is a strong, durable and recyclable material used for soda bottles, water bottles and food jars, making it an environment-friendly, cost-effective and safe product that also performs better than 100% virgin polyester.
Since the past two and a half years, our entire Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range is already being made from recycled polyester, wherein about eight plastic bottles are used to make each T-shirt. Each T-shirt saves approximately 27 litres of water, uses 50% less energy to produce and reduces carbon emission by over 54%.
How are these different from normal clothes?
The quality of the final product is similar or even better than a normal T-shirt; they are softer and lighter than the normal ones and are as durable.
Can we expect you to venture into other categories of clothing, apart from sports wear?
Yes, as we plan to offer a complete range to our customers where we are soon planning to launch sports accessories in caps, socks and bags. Then next year, we are also working to launch sports performance footwear thereby giving our valued customers a full sports performance kit to help them achieve their personal fitness goals.
As we are in a time of crisis and urgent steps have to be taken for the environment, what do you think is in the future for your brand?
We are now taking the next leap wherein we are aggressively increasing the use of recycled polyester made from plastic bottles across all our apparel range. The aim is to have 50% of the products manufactured from recycled polyester which is made from waste plastic bottles within the next few months.
Are sustainable fashion options bound to be more expensive?
The manufacturing process for making the T-shirts out of waste plastic bottles is almost similar to other tees, hence there is no real cost disadvantage in the final product. Yes, there are machinery and equipment that are required to convert the plastic to yarn. Depending on the production capacity the investment varies.
Our range of sustainable apparels - the Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo collection is priced extremely affordably between Rs. 399 and Rs. 799.
What steps can consumers of fashion take to be more sustainable?
The first step is to increase awareness among people and shift them towards using products that are sustainable and made from recycled materials. For example, clothing made out of recycled polyester is picking up pace globally but very few local players are doing this currently. At Alcis Sports, we certainly are looking to grow this category by 4-5 times by 2020 by creating awareness among people. We are heavily promoting our Wonder Tee and Wonder Polo range and will look at intensifying our marketing efforts in order to make more and more people aware of this wonderful product
The foremost aspect is to imbibe an environmentally conscious approach in our day to day lives. Even seemingly small actions like decreasing energy and water consumption on our part can go a long way! We have to wake up and smell the coffee and acknowledge the damage to the planet that all of us are causing. And consequently be sensitive towards depleting the earth’s natural resources or causing damage to the ecology. Thirdly, adopt products that are green like our range of Wonder Tee which do not end up in the landfills or the oceans.