“A man is born in a bamboo cradle and goes away in a bamboo coffin. Everything in between is possible with bamboo,” this Asian saying completely justifies the idea behind bamboo crusader Kamesh Salam’s initiative to dedicate a day to bamboo.
Salam founded Word Bamboo Day as former president of the World Bamboo Organisation in 2009 at the eighth World Bamboo Congress. Since then, it is observed every year on September 18 to raise awareness, conserve, and promote the bamboo industry and ensure its sustainable utilisation.
This fibre holds more relevance and completely new meaning in times like now when sustainability and slow fashion has become the topic of discussion. The care of the environment is not only an issue that is meant for news channels but is a necessity for all mankind. Among all-natural fabrics today, the fashion and textile industry has bamboo to rely on for various reasons.
The most common form that the fashion and textile industry uses is viscose rayon, a fibre made by dissolving the cellulose in the bamboo and then extruding it to form a fibre. Also, bamboo can be grown quickly and can help in reducing fast fashion trends currently in vogue.
Veteran designer and textile conservationist Madhu Jain, in 2017, came up with bamboo-silk ikat — an innovative weaving of bamboo with yarns of khadi, cotton, chanderi, and wool. According to her, “This new textile does not eat into the earth’s meagre resources. It’s biodegradable and, hence, the fabric will leave a negligible ecological footprint. It’s a fabric of the future.”
Not challenging to procure
Textile and apparel manufacturers are constantly exploring natural renewable fibres that have unique performances. It is their way of adding value to their products and catching the attention of consumers, particularly millennials and Gen Z.
Samant Chauhan started an eco-friendly line with the US-based company, ‘MOKSHA for Earth’, in 2016. It then showcased ‘The silkworm’ AW’09 collection at the London Fashion Week along with using bamboo in some of his previous lines.
“Bamboo has a distinct characteristic that makes it sustainable. It’s not challenging to use bamboo yarn and it’s in a good shape. You can weave or use it in most of your looms. It sounds complicated but bamboo is getting more popular and you don’t have to make an extra effort or make the yarn,” he says.
Designer Gautam Gupta of the brand GG by Asha Gautam is using bamboo in two ways: one in yarn form and the other as a fabric. In the yarn form, he blends it with mulberry yarn to develop Banarasi weaves and uses it in sarees and fabrics. “Bamboo has similar properties like cotton. However, it doesn’t consume much water in development from yarn to fabric as compared to cotton,” he explains.
Since bamboo yarn count is a little low for handloom, one has to work on the ply and be careful with the intricacy of the design. “We cannot use it for intricate zari weaving to work on minimal fashion or semi-formal wear,” he says, adding that procurement of bamboo yarn isn’t costly but the process takes time so it is a little expensive compared to cotton.
“But with economies of scale, it will be affordable,” says the designer. He also adds that a good bamboo fabric developed in mills varies from Rs 350 to 500 per metre. “However, when the yarn is handwoven with silk, it goes up to Rs 1,000 per metre or more,” he sums up.
Bamboo, like much other agro waste, is the future and is helping all stakeholders whether it is farmers or the environment.