S05 Episode 242 | Questioning the meaning behind *regenerative fashion* and building new fashion systems with Christy Dawn & Oshadi Collective
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In episode 242, Kestrel welcomes Nishanth Chopra, the founder of Oshadi Collective, to the show, alongside Mairin Wilson, the head of regenerative practices at Christy Dawn. A regenerative farm and textile production community based in Erode, India, Oshadi Collective has been working in partnership with Christy Dawn to develop and release farm-to-closet garments.
"It's about connection, connecting to everything you do and having an alternative way of looking at things. Whether it be a relationship with another being or another person or a relationship with the plants or a relationship with any aspect — anything that you interact with in the supply chain. So, when we talk about agriculture, it’s about the soil, it’s about ecosystems, it’s about the biodiversity, it’s about the animals. You know, it’s not just about *not* adding chemicals — it's about recreating something which we have destroyed for years and years and years." -Nishanth
The word regenerative has been popping up in mainstream fashion conversations more regularly over the last year or so – it’s been written about in Vogue, Marie Claire, Women’s Wear Daily, and more. But a lot of the methods and concepts used in regenerative agriculture are not new at all – they're rooted in circular practices cultivated by Indigenous people over thousands of years. And they are tied to ancient practices for the cultivation of fiber and beyond.
Unfortunately, as we see over and over again, the often whitewashed sustainability movement has a reputation of taking ideas or practices from Black and Brown Indigenous communities, without giving credit or acknowledgement, and then finding new ways to repackage and commercialize them.
As I observe the word regenerative begin to infiltrate the fashion space, it’s key to ask more questions about what this concept actually means to these brands, and what the behind-the-scenes in the supply chain really looks like for them.
On this week’s show, we explore some of these ideas with Nishanth of Oshadi Collective and Mairin of Christy Dawn. The two have been working closely over the last two years in a distinct partnership — they have been working to build a new fashion system, one that is hyper-localized and regenerative, and that has now produced farm-to-closet garments.
Quotes & links from the conversation:
“It’s really amazing when you create these regenerative systems and these systems — as Nishanth said, of trust and mutually beneficial relationships — I feel like, although it is a lot of hard work and everyone’s doing their part, it feels easy because you’re doing your part but then you’re also benefiting from it.” -Mairin
“With regenerative, you start to have a different outlook and you think them as you, just another version of you. You treat them how you’d treat yourself — anything you interact with like soils, insects, animals, the people you work with — it’s a respectful relationship with everything you interact with. That’s what regenerative is for me.” -Nishanth
“I just really want to make sure I play my part — you know, I can’t change the world or you know, I can’t change big systems but I can play my part to create something small, and if that kind of leaves an impact, and it can be these ripples it starts. And I can take it to a certain distance — someone after me will take it to a slightly bigger distance hopefully, and it keeps going on. I won’t be able to accomplish this in one lifetime — not anyone — because it’s been happening for such a long time, but eventually the goal is completely change the system and create a system that is fair, respectful.” -Nishanth
Peeling Back The Layers Of The Green Revolution, episode on Art Of Citizenry podcast that has been very helpful to Kestrel when contextualizing some of the history connected to agriculture / fashion in India
Green Dreamer episode featuring Nishanth — episode 307 — that Kestrel mentions
This week's episode is brought to you by Gem - an app and web platform that brings all online vintage and secondhand clothing and accessories into one search.