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The story of your organic T-shirt

An Amsterdam-based organization that pairs tech innovators with fashion brands is now focusing on South Asia

Textiles drying in Pali, Rajasthan.
Textiles drying in Pali, Rajasthan. (Alamy)

Do you want to know if the organic T-shirt you are about to buy is actually environment friendly? Indian innovators are now creating blockchain technology to trace the origins of a garment to reveal the steps involved in producing it and ascertain its environmental cost.

Pune-based InfiniChains uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing to enable brands to digitize the manufacturing process and establish complete transparency for the consumer. All you have to do is place your phone over the QR code printed on the label of the garment and all the details involved in its making—from growing cotton to dyeing and stitching—are revealed.

This startup is one of the nine innovators selected for the first South Asia Innovation Programme launched by Fashion for Good in Mumbai in January. Fashion for Good is a three-year-old Amsterdam-based organization that has created a platform for tech innovators to collaborate with garment and retail brands, ranging from luxury labels like Chanel and Kering to high-street favourites like Adidas.

When a tech startup is chosen for the programme, Fashion for Good provides mentoring and connects it with global brands that take a conscious approach to fashion. For manufacturers who are open to adopting new technologies from these startups, Fashion for Good offers funds to the tune of $1-5 million (around 7-36 crore) for pilot projects. These manufacturers must clock in revenue of $10-100 million, and should be exporting companies.

Called the Good Fashion Fund, the 10-year impact fund, disbursed over five years, aims to enable startups and manufacturers to scale their innovation and business. For innovators, Fashion for Good offers equity capital if they meet certain criteria involving business plans and product development.

For the South Asia programme, about 300 startups from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam were shortlisted; nine were selected. These startups are working in the space of alternative fibres, recyclable solutions, water-saving treatments and blockchain technologies. For instance, Dehradun-based Descatuk has developed alternative fibres with grass that grows in the hills, while Mumbai-based Indra has patented a wastewater management technology for brands that work with fabric dyes.

Although these innovations are at a nascent stage, they are poised to change our wardrobe essentials in the future.

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