Sustainability | People

Crafting A Greener Canvas: A Vision For Sustainable Handloom Trends In 2024 And Beyond

Jan 24, 2024 | Divya Salgiya

In the intricate world of handloom textiles, 2024 beckons as a pivotal year where sustainability takes center stage, steering the industry towards a conscious and eco-friendly future. This blog delves into the key trends shaping sustainability in the handloom sector, offering insights into product development directions, and outlining strategic approaches to forge a sustainable path forward.Skilled artisans have been practicing hand spinning, weaving, and printing techniques for thousands of years and have been passed down through generations, preserving ancient craftsmanship and traditional knowledge. The industry's products, such as sarees, shawls, fabrics, and garments, are not merely textiles but living expressions of India's artistic and cultural legacy. The sector is also the second-largest employment provider, employing 3 million people directly and indirectly.

Understanding Sustainability

Defining Sustainability

Sustanibility at its core, implies maintaining a balance where we neither harm nor help the environment. However, the trajectory for 2024 transcends this equilibrium, envisioning a state of regenerative sustainability—an active contribution to the restoration and well-being of our planet.

Sustainability Trends in Handloom Industry

Eco-Friendly Materials

Local Sourcing

Embracing sustainability starts with materials. The trend leans towards locally sourced, natural fibers and dyes, fostering a symbiotic relationship with the environment.

Circular Fashion Adoption

Recycling and Upcycling

Circular fashion, emphasizing recycling, upcycling, and resale, gains momentum. Handloom products, with their inherent durability, become prime candidates for a circular approach, extending their lifecycle.

Technological Integration

Innovative Techniques

Technology meets tradition as artisans integrate eco-friendly innovations into their handloom practices. From energy-efficient looms to water-conserving dyeing processes, technology becomes a tool for sustainable craftsmanship.

Local Empowerment

Community-Centric Approach

The trend towards local empowerment sees a resurgence. Supporting local artisans, ensuring fair wages, and fostering community well-being become integral to sustainable handloom practices.

Storytelling Through Craft

Narratives and Traditions

The emphasis on storytelling through craft becomes a driving force. Consumers increasingly seek products with narratives, connecting them to the rich traditions and stories behind handloom creations.

Sustainability trends in Apparel Industry

Thrift fashion.

The rise of thrift fashion or the purchase of pre-loved clothing stems from the need to cut down on excessive expenses on clothing while promoting an anti-wastage culture. It is not uncommon to find that a lot of people who are a- list personalities, celebrities, huge income socialites or people in high-brow areas purchase clothing which is only used a few times and later discarded. Proponents of sustainable fashion have begun to fully embrace the purchase of thrift or second-hand clothes, discarding the notion that wearing thrift is downgrading one’s social status. Thrift markets are being flooded with customers and the numbers are expected to rise in the year 2022.

Minimalism and capsule wardrobes.

Gone are the times where people would purchase assorted clothing which would only be worn sparingly or occasionally. Leaving the end of the majority of these clothes in dumpsites. People are looking inwards into getting a minimalist closet to reduce the overconsumption and cut down on clothes junks.  This has caused the fashion industry and clothing manufacturers to respond by limiting the production of superfluous clothing and using more general colors to produce apparels, keeping it to the bare minimum.

Recycling and upcycling

Recycling is already a major trend in the fashion industry, what is relatively new is upcycling. This involves the transformation of old fabrics and utilizing them in the production of new clothing. It goes a long way to prevent wastage as materials which are no longer in use are repurposed for newer garments.


Owing to the recognition of the pattern in which most women only use clothing on specific occasions, after which they are not to be worn any longer, many fashion industries have begun to provide the option for rentals. This is mostly manifested in the provision of clothes on rent for special occasions such as weddings or prom. This is not only a cost-effective solution for consumers but also a way to preserve the environment.

Eco-friendly clothing

A lot of brands are investing in environmental protection campaigns by donating proceeds from the purchase of the eco-friendly clothing to carbon reducing projects. This is in conjunction with the use of biodegradable materials during manufacturing and also recycling of fabrics which leads to a reduction in the chemical treatment of and processing of materials. In 2022 we expect an increase in the use of plant-based and organic fabrics in manufacturing.

Sustainability fashion industry really is the way forward and it is gladdening to know that populations are taking the job upon themselves to protect the earth in any way possible. The year 2022 promises to be filled with more trends and operations in the fashion industry framed around eco-friendliness. In the long-term, this little effort from all spheres including the fashion industry would trickle down into providing a safer and more wholesome environment for living.

Key Directions for Product Development

Nature-Inspired Collections

Harmonizing with the Environment

Handloom products draw inspiration from nature, incorporating earthy tones and organic patterns. Designs echo the beauty of the natural world, promoting an eco-conscious aesthetic.

Functional Sustainability

Innovative Functionality

Sustainability meets functionality as products are developed with a dual purpose. From UV-protective textiles to naturally antibacterial weaves, handloom items become more than just aesthetic—they serve a practical, sustainable function.

Customization and Personalization

Crafting Unique Experiences

Handloom products embrace customization and personalization. Consumers crave unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect their values, promoting a shift away from mass-produced items.

Handmade and Handlooms to Reduce Energy

A weaving loom is a tool that can be manually operated to make different designs and cloth of different sizes. Weaving is a tradition practiced by many communities in all parts of India. People hand-weaved on looms to make fabrics that were made into products such as clothes, towels, home linens. This tool does not require energy from fossil fuels thus having a low carbon footprint.

Using Cotton Handtowels to Reduce Waste

Cotton hand towels and specifically the cotton handkerchief is a common component of the dress of Indian men and women. These are reused by washing over a longer time period unlike the use and throw tissue paper. Paper products like tissues are harsh on the environment since they use a lot of timber, thus impacting wildlife habitat. The paper and pulp industry is also a major cause of water and air pollution, often producing dioxins and other cancer-causing chemicals. 

Using a hand towel as opposed to tissue paper is an environmentally friendly way to prevent deforestation and can be considered as a measure to mitigate climate change effects. Using a handkerchief instead of tissue paper increases the life cycle of paper.

It is important to be mindful of not buying too much by getting trapped in the fast-moving fashion trends.  Many of these sustainable traditional practices for textile and clothing are still prevalent in large parts of India which helps in energy reduction and waste minimization. It is time to get inspired by these practices and contribute less to the ever-rising pollution.

Sustainable trends in handloom industry 2024

Get an overview of the trends shaping the sustainable textile industry, summarized from our exclusive report on the state of textiles in 2024 Indian clothing was traditionally made from cotton and silk fabrics. Both of these fabrics are considered to be natural and help maintain body temperature due to their cooling effect. Traditionally men wore dhotis, and women wore sarees. The loose-fitting designs and cool materials made the clothing extremely comfortable in hot weather. One of the most striking features of both these garments was that it was unstitched, enabling people of all ages to wear it. Sarees are draped differently in every state of India, and while it is one long garment, in some parts, there are two-piece sarees that are worn as a skirt and blouse.

Upcycling Clothing into New Products

Upcycling is a fashion statement in itself—one that refurbishes an old, discarded item, giving it a whole new life. As the familiar phrase goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is taken too seriously in India.

Hand Me Downs

In most Indian homes, there is a tradition of passing on clothes from the older child to the younger child. It is also a tradition to dress a baby in old clothes handed down from an older sibling or cousin during the first few days/weeks as they are softer and milder for the baby’s skin. 

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    Some grand outfits such as sarees and kurtas are even passed down across generations as heirloom pieces. 

Giving away clothes to the less fortunate is also very common. Clothes are donated (sometimes even new) to festivals such as Diwali through organizations such as U Day Foundation.

Makings Rugs and Quilts

Rugs are made with leftover scraps of cotton trips. The old cotton garment is cut into one to two-inch strips. The strips are then assembled and stitched together with a crochet hook and thread. The output is a colorful rug that can be used as a doormat or floor mat. This is called Chindi Rug.

Another way of making a rug is from old blankets, which are still practiced in the states of Jammu and Kashmir. The nomadic community involved in this work uses acrylic yarn for embroidery on old woolen blankets and converts them into handmade rugs. It is part of the Kashmiri tradition where they preserve old clothes by upcycling them. Indian quilts, also known as Godhadi, are traditional hand-stitched quilts made using patchwork on old sarees and dhotis. They are full-sized quilts used on beds or also used as shawls. The old sari is folded so that the folds create the quilt, and stuffing is not required. The layers are put together with a running stitch. More decorative parts of the saree are used to create a colourful and vibrant border. 

Using Threads for Embroidery

Kantha work from the state of West Bengal and Odisha was traditionally made using threads that are pulled out from sarees and dhotis. ‘Kantha’ refers to the style of running stitch on patchwork cloth from rags. It is one of the oldest forms of embroidery originating from India; its origins can be traced back to the pre-Vedic age.Kantha does not use hoops or frames like embroidery to keep the cloth tight, which leaves a rippled effect on the cloth. Some intricate designs are signature embroideries which are passed on in families as their specialty.
Kantha’s work is applied on various types of clothes and various products such as sarees, kurta, mats, quilts, bed-covers, etc.. 

Using as a Personal Heat Protector

In modern times, caps and hats form the heat protector for the head from the harsh heat in summers, but traditionally men used turbans. Turbans are a long cloth tied around the head tightly, so it doesn’t fall off and protect the heads of farmers. Old sarees and dhotis were used to convert them into turbans.

Strategies for a Sustainable Handloom Future

Collaborative Innovation

Artisan-Designer Partnerships

Foster collaborations between designers and artisans to merge traditional craftsmanship with modern design sensibilities. This synergy sparks innovation and ensures the preservation of handloom traditions.

Consumer Education

Empowering Through Awareness

Implement robust consumer education initiatives to raise awareness about sustainable handloom practices. Informed consumers are more likely to make conscious choices, driving demand for eco-friendly products.

Supply Chain Transparency

Traceability and Accountability

Establish transparent supply chains, enabling consumers to trace the journey of their handloom products. Accountability ensures that sustainable practices are upheld throughout the production process.

Technological Integration

Empowering Artisans

Provide training and access to eco-friendly technologies for artisans. Integrating technology into handloom practices enhances efficiency while maintaining the craft's authenticity.

Market Localization

Connecting Local to Global

Promote the 'glocal' approach—connecting local artisans to a global market. Online platforms and marketplaces play a pivotal role in bridging the gap, allowing artisans to showcase their handloom creations to a broader audience.

Crafting a Conscious Future

As we step into 2024, the handloom industry stands at the crossroads of tradition and innovation, weaving sustainability into its very fabric. By embracing eco-friendly materials, adopting circular fashion principles, integrating technology, empowering local communities, and narrating stories through craft, the handloom industry is poised to create a conscious future.

The key directions for product development align with nature-inspired collections, functional sustainability, and a focus on customization. These strategies, combined with collaborative innovation, consumer education, supply chain transparency, technological integration, and market localization, pave the way for a sustainable handloom future.

In the hands of artisans, designers, and conscious consumers, the handloom industry becomes a catalyst for change—a weaving of threads that connect tradition with progress, culture with consciousness, and craft with a commitment to the planet. As we embark on this journey, 2024 mark the year when sustainability and handloom unite to craft a conscious and enduring legacy.

Future of the Handloom Industry

There are a number of emerging trends that are likely to benefit the handloom industry. The growing demand for sustainable and ethically-sourced products, increased access to markets, and emerging trends in fashion are some of the factors that will influence the future of the industry.

Growing Demand for Sustainable and Ethically-Sourced Products:

Consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable and Ethically-sourced products. Therefore, handloom products are seen as a sustainable and ethical alternative to mass-produced textiles. This is likely to boost demand for handloom products in the future, both domestically and internationally.

Increased Access to Markets:

The government is also working to increase access to markets for handloom products. This includes promoting these products through exhibitions and fairs and supporting weavers to export them. This will, in turn, increase sales for weavers and handloom business owners, and help support the handloom industry as a whole.

Emerging Trends in Fashion:

There is a growing trend towards traditional and ethnic wear in fashion. This is likely to boost demand for hand-woven products, as they are

 seen as a symbol of traditional Indian culture.

The Handloom industry is well-positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for sustainable and ethically-sourced products, as well as the government's support and increasing access to markets.


The handloom textile is highly fragmented and labour-intensive. The weavers who have been practicing their traditions generation after generation still reveal the ordeal that these pathways face when competing with the ever changing dynamics of the needs of the customers and the economy at large. The way they still hold on to pit looms and traditional designs is mesmerizing and every weaver has their own unique story which cannot be defined easily. What comes out is that the changing consumer appetite for newness and variety, the model of how we make and purchase challenges all the opportunities which are made available to the Indian handloom sector. The government policies and other approaches can rejuvenate the Handloom Weavers in India but one cannot sit on one BODMAS rule. Every region has its own ambition and purpose and that is why the regions become unique and hence their requirement also becomes unique.

Potential associations among handicrafts and sustainable development from the case study of Kutch. Craft, as we can put, has done a lot towards bridging the gap between sustainable development and design. Various examples of crafts from Kutch which are made from recycled materials or are in some way sustainable and a path towards sustainability. It also emphasized how craft is a very important way forward towards sustainable development and how the crossing points among the crafts of Kutch play an important role in sustainable development for a better future in India. India's Government has put up great efforts to make handloom clothes and handicraft attractive with the latest and innovative design. The rural economy in India has to be strengthened by strengthening the Handcraft sectors.

The Bhagaiya craft cluster in Jharkhand is one such example of where practices from regions of Kutch can be evaluated to be synthesized with the gaps prevailing in the region and make it move towards a much demanded handcrafted product not only restricted to India but Globally.

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