Creating Livelihoods the Right Way: Story of Greenwear

June 26th, 2020     |     Posted by Anushka Sureka

Established in 2019, Greenwear provides forward linkages and value addition in the cotton and silk yarns industry. Rural women use solar charkhas (Compact spinning ring frame installed at household level which runs on solar energy) to produce four times more yarn than a manual new model charkha. The drudgery involved is significantly lesser than the manual charkhas and the women who operate the Solar Charkha can carry on their domestic activities while spinning work goes on.

Greenwear is in close association with Bhartiya Harit Khadi Gramodaya Sansthan – a KVIC certified society which implemented the pilot project for the Ministry of MSME’s flagship scheme known as “Mission Solar Charkha”. A dedicated ‘Solar Vastra Cell’ has been formed by KVIC to take care of this scheme. Women are first trained and facilitated to manufacture fabrics and garments, after which this is procured by Greenwear – thereby creating a regular source of income for women, weavers and other artisans.

“The women artisans currently engaged, value the income and the flexibility in working hours which allows them to concurrently manage household responsibilities. Our observation indicates a reasonable likelihood that they were just above the extreme poverty line before getting engaged with Solar Charkha spinning and allied activities” says Abhishek, founder of Greenwear.
While studying at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi, Abhishek went for a cluster development project to work with traditional weaving communities which exposed him to the poor living conditions of weaver families while carrying forward a rich textile heritage. Additionally, he was inspired by the concept of ‘Khadi’ and its potential towards improving the rural economy.
The idea of khadi fused with technology to cater to the mainstream fashion industry intrigued him with the thought of directly impacting rural livelihoods and the environment. The next step was to name this revolution and he coined the term “Greenwear” is a platform promoting the textile value chain running on renewable energy resources. To address the challenge of forward linkages to the solar charkha project, Greenwear was given a formal company structure and its first retail store was opened in Lucknow on 31st Jan 2018. The inspiration for Greenwear comes from India’s traditional textiles, the crafts heritage and the indigenous way of living.
Greenwear also aims to reduce the pollution and carbon footprint caused by the textile industry. It believes that this can be achieved through decentralisation of the textile value chain and migrating towards renewable energy resources to generate power for household based machineries. If only 5% of Indian villages become solar charkha clusters (around 30,000), we can produce 180 Cr kgs cotton yarn which is almost 50% of India’s current cotton yarn capacity and generate livelihoods for 1.2 Cr people without migrating from their villages.
Crafting out of Covid-19
“Apart from all the hardships due to lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak, the situation has taught us to value the most important aspects of livelihood creation – Compassion, Creativity and Care. Artisans who work from their households, if supported with an appropriate supply chain and skilling will work wonders in the upcoming model of localised circular economy.” says Abhishek. Greenwear collaborated with the Ministry of MSME (UP), UPKVIB, UPSRLM and Bhartiya Harit Khadi Gramodaya Sansthan to manufacture fabric masks for the general public. Greenwear provided fabric pieces to around 400 rural women so that they could stitch fabric masks at home and submit those to block level officers. Greenwear also sent fabric to 8 districts on demand of local administration and supplied over 4 lakh masks to various departments. Through its garment manufacturing unit, Greenwear has planned to accommodate skilled workers who have worked in the garment industry and have now returned to their villages in Barabanki due to the pandemic.

Greenwear’s vision is to empower 5 thousand artisans with sustainable livelihood opportunities by 2025 through global market exposure and reduce carbon footprints from the fashion industry. Greenwear is launching new segments where fabrics are soft and breathable. A new Denim range is also under exploration where top and bottom wear collections of cotton-denim will be launched. Apart from the physical retail store, Greenwear’s e-commerce website is also under construction. This website will follow the concept of bespoke tailoring and mass customization. The website will have inclusive engagement with textile designers, fashion designers, accessory designers, fashion stylists and trim designers and customers can choose from a wide variety of styles at every level to style their own garment. The fashion market is in dire need to move towards sustainability and environment friendly practices which Greenwear endeavours to achieve.