Let’s make it fashionable to save the world

Anjali Jhangiani
Saturday, 29 July 2017

Chandrika Tamang, a Bhutanese self-taught fashion designer, who is one of the speakers at the Mountain Echo Festival to be held in Bhutan, talks about making eco-friendly garments the vogue

When Chandrika Tamang had to learn how to design clothes, she taught herself. But that wasn’t all that she wanted to do. It was even more important for her to create fashion through her brand called CDK in a fashion that helps preserve the environment, minimises waste and carbon footprint, and helps save our planet in the long run.

Invited to speak about the prevailing fashion scene in her country, and indulge in a healthy exchange of ideas, at the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival to be held at Thimphu from August 24 to 27, Tamang seems quite excited about showcasing her work on the ramp too. 

She infuses traditional Bhutanese patterns of weaving with modern designs to create her collections. “I use simple patterns and play with colours and basic cuts. I usually buy raw silk from Assam, dye it and then mix it with handwoven Bhutanese textile fabric. I don’t use traditional symbols; instead, use Bhutanese textile patterns which I have modified in a simple way. The flowers that make up the pattern are known as tigma while the overall pattern is called kishuthara,” she describes.

Her designs are always inspired by nature and the environment. “For the collection that I will present at the eighth edition of the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival, I have used five main colours of prayer flags (blue, white, red, green, yellow) and each dress describes the elements (sky, wind, fire, water, earth) of the colours,” she says.

Tamang plans on using the platform at the festival to showcase her work and have a dialogue with designers from India about the urgency to go green. “Fashion is going to be a key theme at this edition of the festival. Although the festival is primarily focused on literature, we hope to use the festival as a platform to create enough awareness about Bhutanese fashions and textiles among audiences in India and across the world,” she says, adding, “I also feel it is a platform for me to create awareness about sustainable and eco fashion and to spread awareness about how we can make our textile wearable.”

Tamang has been committed to reducing the carbon footprint emitted by her brand. Hopeful that the designers from the rest of the world are also taking the initiative of making environment friendly products seriously, she says, “I think eco-friendly fashion has already been in practice worldwide and if we can contribute a little effort from each individual, it would really help the Mother Earth. However, we still have a long way to go.”

She claims that a basic way to do this is by using natural dyes and organic fabrics. Other ways they can curb their carbon footprint is by pushing machines aside and opting for hand weaving instead. “It is important to find ways to reduce and reuse the waste, but it is even better to come up with zero waste designs,” she concludes.

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