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Columns - 2012-07-01

Making a Green Fashion Statement

His online 'green' fashion boutique is open 24/7. It is a green way to do business; it avoids wastage of paper and fuel. Young fashion designer Omi Gurung advocates green living habits via Facebook, workshops, writing and products he designs. He advocates a simple, holistic and natural (green) way of life


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The aroma of morning cha, whiff of fresh air, pitter- patter of rain and the chirping of birds fascinated Omi Gurung as a child. The little things in life that nature had to offer made him realise that there is so much to see, touch, hear and taste. He is just 26! But he feels that age is just a number after you turn 17. This young fashion designer's 'green' initiative "Oh My India" (OMI) advocates a simple, holistic and natural (green) way of life. His mantra is summed up in the three Rs -- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle domestic waste. "Oh My India" started as a social group on Facebook on 10 May, 2010 and is synonymous with his name Omi. In a short span of time OMI has inspired many to change and encourage change. At OMI, every product is handmade and made out of waste or carries a 'go-green' message in a fashionable avatar. He also conducts workshops from time to time on "Recycle to Recreate" to empower the youth.

This youth from Sikkim dreamt of being a fashion designer. Of course, he also wanted to be a lawyer, VJ, chef, and a number of other things, but he was actually quite serious about art. "I would save up my allowance to buy sketchbooks and art materials and rush back home to use them at once. I would take such pleasure in sharpening colour pencils and drawing fashion figures. I still remember there was a programme named 'Khoobsoorat' aired on Zee TV which fashionably gave inputs on Indian Fashion. It actually inspired me to study fashion designing," he says. He now advocates green living habits via Facebook, workshops, writing and products he designs.

He also organises workshops in order to use household waste to make fashionable stuff. He started with a free green workshop in Bangalore. Now he charges a nominal fee it is conducted in three different groups- students, house wives and working professional. "I would be more than happy to conduct workshop in any part of India, provided I get the support and interest from people. The response so far has been soul satisfying, my workshops are not a commercial one yet I receive several enquires and it feels good that in your own little ways you are doing your bit for the environment as well as empowering people," he says.

For students, the workshop includes importance of green concept, traditional games from around the world, green craft, storytelling and lots of fun. For homemakers, the workshop includes importance of green concept, green fashion and lifestyle in India, green business, green art and craft, shopping and styling tips, online shopping, personality development and grooming. And for working professionals, the workshop includes importance of green concept, green fashion and lifestyle in India, green art and craft, shopping and styling tips, online shopping, fashion grooming.

He has another innovative idea up his sleeves -- upcycled products. Upcycling is the process of adding value to abandoned scrap material without harming the environment or degrading the original material. Discarded materials such as jute, acrylic, rubber, metals, plastic are carefully procured and upcycled with great attention to perfection and detailing to create a brand new product: something beautiful yet spunky, classy yet path-breaking. In simple words, upcyled products are made out of household or industrial waste.

 

He is trying to weave in his education in journalism as well as fashion. He asks, "What is fashion without a literature? When done right can be fun and informative. For me it is like warp and weft of weaving. I studied designing and later pursued journalism. It's a wise choice to do what you love; you have more chance to be successful in life."

This young designer also has a green way of life. Green for him is his way of life not just a fashion statement! "I have always used the product before I recommend to others. Be it food items, body products, apparel, stationery or home decor, I always opt for organic or handmade or upcycled. Green living is easy; all you need is to be eco conscious. Trust me, you don't have to renounce anything but make a smart choice just for your betterment. Being green is not just to plant a tree, green is not just a color. Green is a way of living. I believe every day is earth day."

He is now focusing on his upcoming range of products, which will be ready by July. His venture Green Gangtok, the first eco fashion boutique in Sikkim is not even a year old. "I am happy to see enthusiastic reaction of my customers. They are keen to know more about green fashion and lifestyle. I am optimistic that the number of greenies will grow gradually with time," he says.

He multi-tasks and don several hats from being tailor to designer, cleaner to manager. "I do 70% of the work. For the rest 20% of the work, he outsources people as per the project need and 10% are few interns. I have a very small team of five at present," he says.

He confesses that he is not a techno freak or gadget-savvy type. However, today social networking sites and e-commerce have grown beyond one's imagination. They are cost effective, time saving and productive if used constructively. "The best thing about online shop is that its open 24/7. Online chat facilitates instant connection between buyer and seller. It builds a strong bond too. I have to mention e-commerce allows you to manage your business on the go! And yes, it is a green way to do business; it avoids wastage of paper and fuel," he adds.

The Government of Sikkim has launched an innovative programme called "State Green Mission" with the view to raising avenue plantation and beautification of all vacant and waste lands to further reinforce widespread recognition of Sikkim being a Green State in the year 2006. Today, Sikkim is known as the Green State of India. Plastic was banned, awareness activities, cleanliness and plantation drive and organic farming was encouraged and conducted under the programme.

However, Omi believes this is just the beginning. According to him, each and every citizen must make efforts to go green. "Go Green" does not mean just planting trees or an occasional cleanliness drive. He says, "It means changing your lifestyle, the way you live and inculcate green ideas and habits. Every citizen should know that the term natural does not always mean organic. I vision Sikkim to be a sterling example of Organic State of India."

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