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The Little Bazaar's commitment to sustainable fashion

March 2011 - the big news this year has been the increasing prices of cotton, and that resulting in a push towards optimal use of fabric. At TheLittleBazaar.com, we already championed the optimum use of fabric raw material, and that saw us pushing our suppliers to make and supply more and more of skirts and bags constructed out of patchwork of material that is a side output of larger textile industry.

Clothing prices to rise 10 percent this spring (excerpted from salon.com) Feb 14, 2011
Economic recovery and surging production costs reverse a decade-long trend of shrinking clothing prices. The era of falling clothing prices is ending.

Clothing prices have dropped for a decade as tame inflation and cheap overseas labor helped hold down costs. Retailers and clothing makers cut frills and experimented with fabric blends to cut prices during the recession.

But as the world economy recovers and demand for goods rises, a surge in labor and raw materials costs is squeezing retailers and manufacturers who have run out of ways to pare costs.

Cotton has more than doubled in price over the past year, hitting all-time highs. The price of other synthetic fabrics has jumped roughly 50 percent as demand for alternatives and blends has risen.

Cotton prices have jumped to a 150-year-high, rising to $1.90 per pound mid Feb (2011), more than double what it was a year ago and just ahead of the $1.89 record hit during the Civil War, according to the International Cotton Advisory Committee.

Cotton prices began soaring in August of 2010 after bad weather cut harvests in major producing countries including China, the U.S., Pakistan and Australia.

Restrictions on exports from India, the world's second-largest cotton exporter behind China, have also produced cotton shortages. On top of that, worldwide demand for cotton has risen as the global economy improves.

Raw materials account for 25 percent to 50 percent of the cost of producing a garment. Labor ranges from 20 percent to 40 percent, depending on how complicated it is to make, Bassuk said.

Mom-and-pop stores are most vulnerable because they have less power to negotiate better prices with suppliers than, say, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. But even the world's largest retailer is feeling the pressure.

Prices go up because of disruption in supply and demand. And when you have less of a natural resource, you beg for sustainable, in this case, Clothing. A lot of sustainability-minded people are all about well just wear the same thing forever. Or you find ways where you can use that waste cut of cloth to make something useful - and thats what we endeavor to do at The Little Bazaar. Look at out patchwork range to believe it.

Further, a discussion on NPR Marketplace - excerpted below, talks about ways of responsible sustainable clothing.

We've got sustainable energy. And sustainable manufacturing. Sustainable agriculture and sustainable construction. Clothing that's easy on the planet? Not really.

So some big clothing manufacturers and retailers have formed a new trade group called The Sustainable Apparel Coalition. They want standards for every single garment sewed and sold, every piece of fabric, every zipper, every manufacturer along the supply chain, and then an easy-to-understand scorecard for consumers so they can see at a glance the entire environmental impact of a single piece of clothing.

Chances are at least 15 percent of the fabric that went into that T-shirt or jacket or pair of jeans wound up on the cutting room floor. Which is a colossal and tragic waste of fabric.

Reducing waste in the production of garments is better for the environment, but that's not the business reason behind it catching on broadly.

If you look in the rise of the price of cotton, if you say to any industry, 'we can stop you, we can help you to not waste 15 percent of your raw materials,' they'll be all over it. Maybe they couldn't care less about sustainability, but they care about their bottom line.

So at Parsons Fashion Institute in New York, students have been working on zero-waste garments. Think of it like rolling out cookies and figuring out how to cut interesting shapes without wasting any of the dough. It's not easy. And reducing waste like this requires a significant rethink of how clothes are put together.

For example, cut big curvy pieces out of some black knit fabric for a dress, but then figure that these big areas that didn't have anything could be used to cut a cloud scarf - and that uses up the whole piece.

By using up the extra fabric, the extra products can be used for products that sell in boutiques (like thelittlebazaar.com). This is pretty much a 'green' designer's design philosophy.

Future for sure holds declining resources and increasing demand on those resources, so we know we have to create products in a completely new way.

A closed loop means that every new product is made from old products - without any new-new inputs. It's a concept of fashion sustainability which allows us all to keep buying, to get that new pair of shoes we've been drooling over, without feeling bad about it.

It's about creating new products, which create jobs, and creating them in a way that has as little environmental impact as possible.

Using less to make new garments -- and using recycled materials -- makes a lot of sense when you think about sustainability as an economic as well as environmental concern.

A lot of sustainability-minded people are all about well just wear the same thing forever. Buy something and wear it forever. Buy used. Buy secondhand. But that's not going to create jobs. That's not going to create jobs here. That's not going to create jobs in China, Africa, anywhere people make clothes.

And it's a way forward that's maybe more inspiring than wearing the same black dress over-and-over-and-over-and-over.

For us at The Little Bazaar, next in the line is using organic cotton in our clothes. Close to a quarter of what we sell uses organic cotton. We have promised guarantee of fair-trade prices for the products that are manufactured using organic cotton. There is a huge network of organic cotton growers that is coming up in central India. Some of our suppliers are also beginning to use innovative salt-free, low-impact dyes, such that 92 percent of their manufacturing waste water can be reclaimed and reused. Note that growing natural fibers is a huge drain on resources. Cotton fields soak up 25 percent of all insecticides sprayed on the planet and require some 2,600 gallons of water for every pound of white fluff grown. Cotton is still any day better than synthetic material - whose production is toxic and its fibers take decades to biodegrade. To further 'green' our line, we also also looking at using recycled fiber, its length not being the best, but we believe theslightly heavier materials can be used in autumn fashion collections. Based on how this goes, we also plan to apply for membership of Organic Trade Association (OTA) and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
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Our sustainable 'green' cotton patchwork long skirts have been very popular lately, and they are expected to sell hot in Spring-Summer of this year (2011). The sustainable fashion bags , including some Jute Bag designs are so unique that often even we don't carry more than a couple. So if you like one, grab it before its too late.

Reusable Shopping Bag in Cotton Burlap Bag with Brocade Trim Bright Orange Patchwork Handbag Bohemian Style Shoulder Handbag Kimberly Paisley Cotton Short Skirt Black Crochet Cotton Skirt Fiesta Flowy Cotton Skirt Wedgewood Summer Cotton Skirt

The Little Bazaar: Shop for ethnic and trendy long skirts, jewelry, purses, bags, stoles, kashmiri shawls. Best Value at Best Prices for bohemian or hippie look long skirts and bags.


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