Suhana Khan Was Supporting Re-Use Of Bridal & Party Wear, Not Being A ‘Clueless Star Kid’!

Suhana Khan used her name and platform to talk specifically about high end outfits, not about the jeans and kurtis which we wear daily, and also supported sartorial choices of another woman!

Suhana Khan, in a recent interview, praised Alia Bhatt for wearing her wedding saree when she went to receive the National Awards, and went on to add, “as somebody with a platform, who has an influence, I thought that was incredible and a much-needed message. She took a stand towards sustainability.”

Suhana Khan is being heavily trolled for her statement, with some of the less nasty comments being:

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Many people mentioned that they wear the same pair of jeans for an entire week, or that they are still wearing the kurti they bought while in college. However, what all these people choose to ignore is the fact that Suhana Khan was not talking about everyday wear. She was making a very valid point about the clothes that the bridal party purchases for weddings.

How many times have you worn your wedding saree or lehenga?

My grandmother draped her 9-yards wedding saree to lit the lamps on Kartikai Deepam every year. The women of my mother in law’s family would drape their wedding chunnis over their head while sitting down to perform a havan. The bride reused all the outfits she wore at her wedding- often, they were the only “good” clothes she possessed.

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Things, however, are no longer the same now. Today’s brides wear extremely expensive outfits for each of the wedding functions, and few (if any) of them are re-worn. One reason for this is a very practical one- today’s bridal outfits are far more elaborate than the ones worn traditionally which consequentially makes them less versatile than the ones worn by earlier generations. But the other reason, and perhaps more important reason, is that it is considered infra dig to repeat wedding outfits at other events, and people hesitate to do so because they know that they will get caught out because of the digital footprint.

It is against this background that one should look at Suhana Khan’s statement that “if Alia Bhatt can re-wear her wedding saree then we can also repeat an outfit for a party. We don’t need to buy a new outfit.” She was talking specifically about high end outfits, not about the jeans and kurtis which we wear daily. Far from being the “spoilt star kid” which people insinuated she was, Suhana Khan was in fact using her name and privilege to make a very valid point about sustainability.

Suhana Khan batted for the environment

”We don’t realise but making new garments creates waste which impacts our biodiversity and environment” she said.

While the statement may sound a little vague and contrived, Suhana Khan was drawing attention to a very important issue- that while we tend to picture huge smokestacks belching black smoke into the air when we think of polluting industries, the fashion industry is equally environmentally destructive.

Let us examine the environmental footprint of fashion

Fashion production is responsible for 8 to 10% of global emissions which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. The industry consumes over 93 billion cubit meters of water every year, which is enough to meet the needs of 5 million people. More than 20% of industrial water pollution originates from the fashion industry.

The social cost of the fashion industry is equally high. The industry employs women and children in developing countries at lower than minimum wages and forces them to work long hours in appalling conditions. Some of the chemicals used in production also raise health concerns both for producers and consumers.

What makes the environmental and social cost of fashion production worse is the fact that 85% of the textiles produced lands up in landfills every year, thereby creating the problem of waste disposal.

The only way to counter this is to embrace sustainable fashion

Today, one in six social media influencers proudly proclaim they never wear the same outfit again. This puts tremendous pressure on regular people to buy more clothes than they need. Each tee shirt, for instance requires 2,700 litres of water for production, which is roughly equivalent to amount of water 3 people would drink in an entire year. While the people who trolled Suhana Khan might wear the same pair of jeans for 5 years, I wonder how many of them think of the environmental cost while mindlessly purchasing yet another tee shirt?

It is essential that we reduce the number of garments we purchase, and that we wear the garments that we already possess as many times as possible. This can be done by buying, wherever possible, good quality and classic outfits that will last for several years. Borrowing and exchanging clothes was extremely common in the past, and enables you to get more wear out of the same number of clothes. Thrifting and hiring are becoming popular in niche circles of people who make the effort to exert sustainable choices.

This needs a mindset change

All of this, however, requires a change in mindset from excessive consumerism to more responsible shopping. When celebrities and influencers are seen and photographed wearing the same outfit more than once, it can lead to a change in mindset. By wearing her wedding saree at an extremely prestigious professional event, Alia Bhatt sent out the message to brides that they could and should look at whether their bridal outfit could be worn even after the wedding.

Instead of calling out Suhana Khan for speaking about Alia Bhatt re-wearing her bridal outfit, we should appreciate her effort to normalise and popularise sustainable fashion.

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About the Author

Natasha Ramarathnam

Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...

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