It is not always about the big names and established designers. Urban Medley, an Amstelveen based sustainable lifestyle brand launched on the eve of Corona, is determined to make a mark within the sustainable slow fashion sector. Drawing upon traditional, centuries’ old forms of printing and weaving from India it aims to reintroduce to the conscious consumer the old world charm in a modern look. Contemporary designs in bold colours gives a new meaning to old time hand block printing on organic silk. The founder Shayonti explains- ‘’ We are not bound by age, colour and size, hence we choose sustainable, handmade, ethically produced accessories as our main focus point. We give you the space to create your own style using the many fashion items we bring to you. We wanted to focus on the main fabric the brand uses for its range of handmade scarves and capes.”
It is cruelty free or peace silk fabric, fondly also referred to as Ahimsa silk. Silk, once only the prerogative of royalty and aristocrats, is the epitome of elegance and exuberance. However what is often overlooked is the process of making the silk yarn. Conventionally cocoons were boiled with the live silkworm still within, to maintain the length and strength of the silk fibres and give it the luxurious sheen.
According to PETA, 3,000 silkworms are killed to produce half a kilo of silk. Boiling water loosens the sericin (glue which binds the filaments together) and fine silk filaments are extracted off the cocoon. The filaments are twisted to produce yarn which then is woven into rich silk fabric.
In 1990 Kusuma Rajaiah, a sericulturist from Andhra Pradesh, India found a way to create silk yarns without harming the silkworms in any way: Peace or Ahimsa Silk was born.
Organic Peace Silk is produced from the cocoon discarded by the silkworm naturally after 30 days. The silkworm changes into a moth, pierces the cocoon and flies out leaving the cocoon behind. This exposure to nature results in its truly multi-tonal look, which cannot be duplicated by machine made fabric. The piercing of the cocoon results in many pieces of yarn (instead of one continuous thread) which then must be spun together to make a single thread, and the yield of silk filaments is about six times less once the cocoon is pierced. Even though this process is more time consuming, the process is more ethical, cruelty free and sustainable. It retains the purest qualities of silk.
Organic silk cultivation is a forest-based industry, where the silkworms are reared outdoors in the wild. The worms feed on Arjun, Sal and Castor leaves. The yarn is produced in a completely untouched natural environment.
Peace or Ahimsa silk is less glossy than the traditionally woven fabric, and it has a beautiful textured body. Mostly the fabric is hand spun and hand woven, retaining the properties which are lost in the conventional silk weave. It is warm in winter and breathes in summer making it comfortable to use all year round.
Peace silk- the cost to the consumer
Often sustainable and ethical fabrics may seem to cost more- but what a consumer needs to keep in mind is sustainability is about achieving social, political and economic equity. Cruelty free silk production is way more time consuming. One has to wait for the caterpillar to metamorphose hence production time is longer. Piercing of the cocoon yields 6 times less silk filaments. This in turn makes the market price of the silk more than the conventional silk. However, what the consumer gets is a sustainably manufactured cruelty free fabric.
According to Shayonti, their products qualify as heirloom pieces and definitely support the philosophy of ‘buy better and buy less’. Scarves and capes are accessories which can easily complement a range of outfits. They help go from a formal to a glamorous look and can be used multiple times. More importantly the product reflects a conscious mind and is not simply a trend. The brand offers a wide range of colours and designs suitable for all. Presently they are carrying block printed and hand printed scarves and capes.
To build a brand and create an awareness around it, one needs to connect with consumers at a deeper level. Urban Medley is extremely conscious about the impacts it makes- working with artisans and enabling a community to earn a dignified living doing what they do best.
Read more about Urban Medley on the brandpage: fashionunited.com/companies/urban-medley