With emerging trends like organic clothing, handloom, handcrafted clothing etc, the niche clothing market is prepped up for exciting times ahead. As consumers are becoming eco-conscious, textile artisans are relying back upon old-age techniques and creating contemporary art and crafts which are eco-friendly. One such technique being explored today by brands and artisans is eco-printing.
Ever wondered how clothing in eco-print would feel or smell? Wearing eco-print clothing feels as if life is brushed by a fresh morning breeze carrying with it the fragrance of flowers and touches your skin like soft buttery milk. The eco-printed fabric resembles a garden filled with infinite varieties of plants interspersed with enchanting florets. Creative brands and people are not shying away from making wonder walks into the wilderness and bringing out ecstatic textures, forms and shapes of flora alive on fabric surfaces. The possibility of designs, textures and designing is endless with eco-printing and the end product is as unique and wonderful as nature itself.
The pioneer of eco-printing process is Australiabased textile artist India Flint, who accidentally discovered eco-printing with eucalyptus leaves in the early 2000s. She now runs her school of nomad arts to share the knowledge of diverse eco-printing materials and techniques.
Eco-printing is the process of producing imprints of plants’ parts using heat, moisture and pressure. This process is facilitated by the use of natural or synthetic mordants resulting in fast colours. It is a highly skill-based technique that demands extensive explorations of plant materials on suitable fabrics. It beautifully amalgamates the designer’s creativity with the natural dyer’s expertise. Intriguing textures and soft shades of colours are achieved by suitably extracting different pigments and forms of flora on the fabric. The wide range of hues and tones achieved are innumerable ranging from rustic reds to bottle greens to luminous yellows. The textures, the prints and the patterns are definite flora patterns, diffused patterns or sprinkled florets having a tinge of novelty in each of the masterpieces.
n the wake of the increasing inclination of consumers towards sustainable textiles, eco-printing has a huge scope in the market. As beautifully explained by founder of Ecofab Dr. Pushyamitra Joshi, a startup based in Indore, “Eco-printing is a nature’s treasure and gift to beautify our textiles in the best possible way”. He further adds, “Demand for Eco-print sarees, stoles, yardage and dupatta is increasing day by day. Some 4 years ago in the year 2019, when I created my first saree it was not easy to sell but today, I am finding it difficult to keep pace with demand. He also emphasizes the importance of the eco dyeing in today’s era, “wearing garments of fabrics that are designed with eco prints has a healing effect. These are not medicinal clothes; however, they certainly have a soothing effect on skin.”
Dr. Pushyamitra Joshi is a first-generation textile artist involved in the process of eco-printing since 2016. He has been experimenting with leaves of eucalyptus, teak, guava, castor, peepal, silver oak and flowers of palash, rose, marigold, etc. The combination of different flowers and leaves generate very interesting effects on the same fabric. Under the brand Ecofab, he eco-prints on handwoven saris, dupattas, stoles, T-shirts, etc. The base fabrics used are cotton, linen and silk. He has also been using different fabric varieties like kala cotton, Maheshwar cotton and all four varieties of silk. They beautifully combine natural dyeing with eco-printing. The commonly used dyes are pomegranate peel, manjistha roots, kamala fruit, kattha and keekar tree bark etc. He also specializes in using lodhra mordant which has been used traditionally in India.
The other prominent and promising emerging brands are Beej and Co, Leafage, Karma Ashram, etc. which are providing an array of fresh designs through their creative design interventions. There can be seen all over patterns, random flora arrangement, overlapping designs, intermixing offlora patterns, etc., often highlighting their eco prints with small embroidered motifs.
Talking about the current trend in the market concerning eco-printing, Dr. Joshi explains, “In garments, many new entrants are beautifully combining eco-printing with kantha embroidery to create the diverse product range. Moreover, in the export market demand for eco-printed home furnishing and bags in linen, cotton and hemp is increasing.”
Currently, the market for eco-printing is at very nascent stage where only some individuals and start-up sare practicing it at a very small scale. However, naturally dyed eco-printed clothing is going to be the next big thing in the sustainable clothing market. Moreover, they perfectly resonate with eco-conscious lifestyle of people making them a go-to slow fashion choice and protecting the planet from toxic effluents released by synthetic dyeing industry. At large, boosting this niche segment would not only empower artisans with new skill set but also earn them a secured future.