Sustainable Fashion Week in Bristol has an international impact.

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Priyanka Abhishek and Laghna Gowda standing under a Sustainable Fashion Week sign

A UK city’s eco-initiative has become so successful that it has spread around the world.

In 2021, Bristol hosted the inaugural Sustainable Fashion Week (SFW) to raise awareness of the industry’s environmental impact during London Fashion Week.

Since then, its scope has tripled, with events taking place not only in the US, Papua New Guinea, India, and the UK.

According to SFW India’s Priyanka Abhishek, the program is assisting Indians in “getting back to their roots”.

Following last year’s event’s success, Dr. Abhishek and her friend Laghna Gowda reached out to Amelia Twine, the founder of SFW Bristol, to inquire about taking over the organization’s Indian division.

“That’s a great thing and there’s no limits on what Sustainable Fashion Week can do, who we can work with and how big we can get,” said Twine.

“We’ll expand as far as we can.”

A split photos of Dr Gowda and Ms Twine

Designer Elizabeth Omeri also contacted SFW about launching the program in Papua New Guinea, and SFW USA has partnered with SFW.

According to Ms. Twine, “the sense of coming together” is crucial for the fashion industry’s future, as it accounts for 8–10% of global emissions.

The manufacturing of fast-fashion has resulted in a rise in waste and pollution, and recent revelations have further exposed the exploitation of garment workers in factories abroad, particularly in India.

Priyanka Abhishek and Laghna Gowda standing near clothes rails by a Sustainable Fashion Week sign

Dr. Abhishek clarified how fast fashion was transforming her nation’s 5,000-year-old cultural apparel.

“Our grandmothers and moms were always dressed in saris, made entirely of handloom textiles. Our dresses were always sewn by a tailor using handcrafted laces.”

However, this changed when she enrolled in college, “because that’s when the fast-fashion got introduced”.

Amelia Twine smiling at the camera

This year’s Sustainable Fashion Week took place from September 25 to October 8, with the theme The Re-wear Revolution. Ms. Twine clarified that the emphasis of this theme was to keep clothing out of landfills and “away from the exploitation ships that go off to the global south.”

Dentists Drs. Abhishek and Gowda planned workshops on upcycling and repurposing, a catwalk event with eco-aware labels, and pop-up stores featuring pre-owned clothing in Delhi and Bangalore.

“A great deal of effort has gone into this. “I’m pleased with our accomplishments,” Dr. Abhishek remarked.

“Amelia is doing a fantastic job in Bristol, and how she’s really spread her wings all over the world,” said Dr. Gowda.

People watching a talk in a clothing shop

Dr. Gowda gave an explanation, saying, “I had taken to promoting re-wearing clothes, repeating clothes, because we have lacked so many things that we should have passed down to our future generations.”

“I thought Sustainable Fashion Week would be a great platform to help me promote to others the whole concept of sustainable fashion.”

The two claimed that the effect was apparent since Indian designers and brands claimed that their exclusion from the competition this year had cost them.

Lisa Matzi

The creators of Rebel Patch and Clothemod in Bristol, back in SFW’s hometown, had a discussion about upcycling, repairing, and repurposing clothing.

Rebel Patch’s Lisa Matzi stated that SFW was “a whole week where we can collectively, as makers, as activists, really, really make a difference” and that’s why she wanted to be involved.

SFW allows people to “dip their toe into sustainability” if they are unfamiliar with it, according to Meg Cox of Clothemod.

Meg Cox smiling in a purple dress

According to Ms. Twine, her “tiny team” works almost entirely at their own volition.

“It makes my heart sing looking at what can actually be achieved with just a handful of people who are really committed.”

Next year, SFW intends to grow once more, adding its India hub.

“More people have seen it than we anticipated. All across India, people are calling us,” Dr. Abhishek remarked.

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