Podcast 83, BANDANA TEWARI - WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM GANDHI ABOUT MINDFUL FASHION?
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP FOR WARDROBE CRISIS NEWS YET? THE SUSTAINABILITY NEED-TO-KNOWS, DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX EVERY THURSDAY. SIGN UP ON OUR HOMEPAGE.
EPISODE 83 FEATURES BANDANA TEWARI
Journalist Bandana Tewari was formerly Vogue India’s fashion features director then the magazine’s Editor-at-Large. She now writes for Business of Fashion, and speaks globally on India’s rich fashion craft tradition. She spent many years in Mumbai at the epicentre of Indian fashion, where she presented Indian first pop culture fashion TV show. Recently, she moved to Bali. Bandana is a special adviser to Global Fashion Agenda, a judge for the H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award, and is an awesome human, we are sure you will agree.
If the opposite of sustainable fashion is thoughtlessly buying more and more clothes and getting rid of them after just a few wears, then mindfulness surely has a place. Bandana’s been developing a theory around what we can learn about mindful fashion from the great Indian activist Mohandas Gandhi (Mahatma mahatma means high-souled in Sanskrit).
It was Gandhi who lead the khadi movement, uniting Indians in opposition to British colonial rule around the issue of cotton production. How did he develop his sartorial integrity, and what can we learn from that in the era of hyper-consumerism. A powerful argument for why clothes do matter...
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT…
STUFFOCATION, Living More with Less is a book by James Wallman, who argues that we have more stuff than we could ever need - clothes we don't wear, kit we don't use, and toys we don't play with. But having everything we thought we wanted isn't making us happier. It's bad for the planet. It's cluttering up our homes. It's making us feel 'stuffocated' and stressed - and it might even be killing us…
GREEN SCHOOL in Ubud, Bali is a school “committed to educating for sustainability in a natural environment through our purpose-driven curriculum.” They say: “We believe schools should be places of joy, and strive to champion a new model of education that fully ignites the imagination of children so they can engage and learn with optimism, inventiveness and wonder.” Find the website here.
SCCI is the Sherman Centre for Culture and Ideas, based in Sydney, and founded by art world philanthropist Gene Sherman. In April, Bandana gave a keynote speech at the annual SCCI Fashion Hub about mindfulness in fashion.
“The world has enough for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed.” - GANDHI
“Gandhi’s relationship with clothes was profound,” Bandana told Vogue Arabia. “There is no other example I could find in the history of politics that raises such an analogy between politics and clothing…Clothing was a central part of his inner quest for truth.” Read the interview here.
GANDHI’S ADOPTION OF THE DHOTI or loincloth. According to Press Information Bureau, when Mahatma Gandhi discovered the poor situation of the people in his country, he took it upon himself to represent their struggles to the world through dress. He adopted the loincloth in 1922, in solidarity with “the millions of compulsorily naked men, save for their langoti four inches wide and nearly as many feet long, gave through their limbs the naked truth. What effective answer could I give them [in response to their lament that they could not afford to buy khadi], if it was not to divest myself of every inch of clothing I decently could and thus to a still greater extent bring myself in line with ill-clad masses?”
You can read about British reactions to his attire in this eye-opening piece from The Atlantic.
KHADI is a hand-spun, hand-woven Indian cotton, and a symbol of Indian independence. During the colonial occupation, the British were buying cotton cheap from India, and exporting it to the UK, where British mills wove it, and British factories sewed garments from it for both the domestic and export markets. When these clothes were sent back to India, prices were high, pricing Indian weavers and tailors out of the market.
Gandhi began promoting the spinning of khadi for rural self-employment and self-reliance during the 1920s. The spinning wheel became a symbol of independence. Today, the the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel, is in the centre of the Indian flag.
The SWADESHI Movement (now known as the 'Make in India' campaign) was officially proclaimed on August 7, 1905 at the Calcutta Town Hall, in Bengal. The Boycott movement was also launched. The idea was to use only goods produced in India, and burn British-made goods. Read more in India Today.
AHIMSA means non-violence in thought or deed. Gandhi said that, “Ahimsa is not a garment you put on and off at will. It will sit in the heart.”
E.M. Schumacher was the German economist who said, “Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility.” First published in 1973, his highly influential book Small Is Beautiful brought Schumacher's critiques of Western economics to a wider audience during the 1973 energy crisis and emergence of globalization.
DARJEELING is a town in India's West Bengal in the Himalayan foothills. Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it is famous for its tea plantations. Mt. Kanchenjunga forms its dramatic backdrop.
MALLORY TOWERS is 1940s children’s novel series by Enid Blyton. It’s set in a girls’ boarding school and everyone says “jolly” and “splendid” a lot.
PROJECT RENAISSANCE was devised by Bandana for Vogue India in 2012, and involved her sourcing beautiful hand-woven textiles for a design collaboration. “International labels from Gucci to Christian Louboutin, Roberto Cavalli and Tod's to Missoni and Etro transformed traditional Indian handloom fabrics into their signature designs.” Find the Vogue India news story on the project here. Burberry’s then creative director Christopher Bailey worked with Maheshwari silk, known for its distinctive geometric motifs, stripes and checks.
ARTISANS OF FASHION is a social enterprise founded by Sydney based Creative, Caroline Poiner with the aim to promote cultural sustainability, authenticity and social change for village artisans in India.
The panel we mention took place during VAMFF in Melbourne at the LCI fashion school and featured Caroline, Bandana, Clare, South Indian designer Naushad Ali and Brisbane based designer Cassandra Harper. The discussion focused on hand loomed textiles including Khadi, Eri “Peace” silk from Assam in India’s North East, block-printing, and addressing the issues of climate change and the impact of the fast fashion industry. This piece on Inside Out Style digs into the design aspect. Read Kate Hall’s story on the discussion and associated exhibition Greenhub here.
”IT’S ABOUT CONSCIOUS CONSUMPTION, NOT CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION.” - BANDANA TEWARI
A NOTE ON OUR MUSIC: IT IS BY OUR FRIEND MONTAIGNE, WHO SANG A SPECIAL ACOUSTIC VERSION OF "BECAUSE I LOVE YOU" JUST FOR US. IT'S FROM HER ALBUM GLORIOUS HEIGHTS.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING THE WARDROBE CRISIS CONVERSATION. WE'LL HAVE A NEW EPISODE FOR YOU EVERY WEDNESDAY. CAN YOU HELP US SPREAD THE WORD? WE'D LOVE YOU TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS & LEAVE A REVIEW IN iTUNES.
Until next time,