Fashion designer Runa Ray’s passionate commitment to a sustainable fashion industry was celebrated at the 2019 United Nations Green Fair in New York City on June 3rd, where she showcased a selection of her sustainably-made luxury womenswear collection.
Invited by the United Nations to help spread awareness about the fashion industry’s wastefulness and lack of sustainability practices, Ray’s presentation show-cased the thoughtful design decisions that go into creating a sustainable fashion brand. Being resourceful and avoiding waste is at the forefront of Runa’s design method – from the origami folding method (non-wasteful usage of fabric) to only using natural plant dyes for color instead of chemical dyes.
Ray has shown her collection at New York Fashion Week three times and describes the collection she showed at United Nations as made of ‘ahimsa’ silk and fabrics that are biodegradable, using hand embroidery and folding techniques that reduce the time spent using a sewing machine. Beyond the collection, her U.N. presentation included videos about how her garments can be sustainably discarded by being placed in soil to create compost for plants.
As a sustainable brand, Runa Ray’s emphasis is on natural fibers that are planet-friendly and 100% bio-degradable. The brand is committed to working with handlooms and textile mills that adhere to this ethos. Yarns are made from extracted aloe vera, rose, and eucalyptus to name a few, many of which contain therapeutic qualities making it good for the skin.
The Runa Ray brand is completely organic and chemical free and uses organic dyes such as turmeric, Indian madder, Tulsi plant and Neem, which impart their Ayurvedic properties to the wearer.
The Burlap Dress
The original burlap fabric is worked by hand to give this jute gunny sack a make over. The embroidery depicts the environment, resplendent with flora and fauna. Jute is mostly used for packaging material and is one of the hardiest known materials and 100% biodegradable.
The Origami Dress
Made from raw silk, the yarn is procured from South India and woven by weavers from the cottage industry communities of Bangalore. The print is the natural embossing of the leaves of the camels foot tree which is widely found in South East Asia
The Rust Gold Dress
Dyed using azo free dyes, This dress is further dip dyed using rust soaked leaves which were made to sit in a mixture of vinegar and old nails. This enables the tannin from the leaves to fix onto the garment.
The Chlorophyll Printed Dress
Treated with origami folding to reduce the fabric wastage that occurs in cutting, this garment is woven using silk and linen, which are both are bio-degradable. The print uses the natural dye from the Bougainvillea plant.
Who Made My Clothes?
In the spirit of the #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign by Fashion Revolution, Runa Ray wants you to know who works in her atelier in Bangalore, India to create her collection.
Thangaveni hails from Erode which is in Tamil Nadu and famous for it’s handloom and powerloom industries. Thangaveni has been spinning since the age of twelve, when he became an apprentice to his father. As the only male child of a family with 3 sisters, Thangaveni bears the responsibility for all his sisters marriages and takes care of his parents in return.
Thangaveni is now married with 2 children of his own who study in a government school. He hopes that they will all work in America one day.
Habib is from rural Calcutta and came to Bangalore in search of work. He has completed his basic education which enables him to read, write, and speak Bengali which is his mother tongue. Habib is from an agricultural family, where to make ends meet, he was taught tailoring by his uncle a the age of 15 and started his own business.
Habib quit school to pursue the trade which took him to Mumbai and Delhi for work. He is now 21 years of age and will marry this year. He plans to give his children the education he could not pursue himself.
Bhubay is an expert artisan from rural Calcutta, he is illiterate and can only sign documents when required. He loves working with traditional embroidery but is also keen on occidental styles. Bhubay is 26 years of age and is unmarried. He could not pursue his education due to financial difficulties that still exist in his family. He worships the Goddess Kali who is the Goddess for strength and destruction and believes that education is utterly wasteful as it is an expenditure and not a source for income.
Shamir started his business at the age of 18 along side his elder brother. He is the go-to person when it comes to dyeing fabric. His wife and sister in-law also involved in his business along side his other loyal workers who hail from Jaipur and Rajasthan and specialize in the art of block printing and dyeing. Shamir is averse to chemical dyes and is extremely knowledgeable about the destruction it can cause and the toxicity of the product. He loves to talk about his new organic colors and how plant-based dyes are the future of the world.
For more information about designer Runa Ray follow her on Instagram at @runaray.
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