SUMMARY: Chalo is a design initiative that encourages systematic change in textile waste recycling by building an innovative business model with economic, social, and environmental implications in both large and small-scale garment production. The approach is holistic with a three-pronged strategy; business collaboration, design mentorship, and storytelling.

PROBLEM SPACE: Aimed at addressing the enormous amount of textile waste generated in garment manufacturing, the project demonstrates that textile waste is not only a business opportunity, but a catalyst for collaboration with large manufacturers, social enterprise, and young designers; promoting social well being, informing design, and effectively communicating change.

SOLUTION: Textile waste contributes to the depletion of virgin resources. It is often generated by large manufacturers with a poor record of enviornmental and social welfare practices. Our project addresses these issues with a three-pronged strategy; business collaboration, design mentorship, and storytelling.

Years spent living inside a garment factory in India has given our work a critical vantage point to discover the potential cross-pollination between business participants. By partnering with a social enterprise that excels in artisanal work, a large-scale garment manufacturer has the opportunity to expand its product range to incorporate value addition pieces—up-cycled textile garments. This simultaneously provides consistent orders to sustain a social enterprise. By partnering with a large-scale manufacturer not only does a social enterprise have the security of large orders, but the capital and raw material—donated textile waste—to create their own brand and sell directly to the consumer. All that is missing are ardent young designers commited to engaging the community and in need of practical experience.

The Design Mentorship program, currently hosted by Pratibha Syntex, guides domestic and international student designers through every process of fashion—from fiber to finished product, at the factory grounds in India. Here the students learn of the origins of textile waste and are challenged to design a recycled textile product that can be produced both within a large-scale production line and small-scale production by partnering with social enterprise Jhoole. All three parties mutually benefit from participation, however the remaining party that most initiatives fail to recognize is the one most eager to understand and participate; the consumer.

Chalo includes a documentary film aimed at attracting and engaging a wider consumer audience. The film follows two young designers’ journey to India and the challenges they encounter when faced with the pratical realities of participating in the mentorship program.