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What is Ahimsa Silk and Why Are Celebs Wearing It?

Anupam Dabral | Apr 17, 2015, 13:35 IST
What is Ahimsa Silk and Why Are Celebs Wearing It?
A model wearing a creation by Abraham and Thakore made of Ahimsa Silk

In this fast-paced world of fashion, it very rare that one thinks of the ethical standards that should be followed in creation of every garment. Ahimsa Silk is one such initiative to sensitize modern consumers about sustainable living and to know what goes behind the creation some of the world’s most preferred silk outfits.

When we buy those luxurious silk scarves and shawls do we really consider the ways in which they are manufactured? The process of manufacturing normal silk involves the killing of thousands of silkworms and this particular method has been questioned on a global level. It has been estimated that a single silkworm gives about 1000 yards of yarn. As long as the silkworm is in the cocoon, it is difficult for the silk manufacturers to get unbroken silk. Hence, to get rid of the silkworms, the cocoons are immersed in boiling hot water, thus killing them.


To put end to this process of obtaining silk, Kusuma Rajaiah, a technical expert in the field of handlooms, came up with a technique of obtaining silk without killing the silkworm in 1992. The silk thus produced came to be known as ‘Ahimsa Silk’ or ‘non-violent silk’, which ensures that there is no death or violence in its creation. In July 2006, Kusuma was granted a patent for Ahimsa Silk.

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  • Ahimsa Silk sari2 of 3
    Ahimsa Silk sari

    How is Ahimsa Silk different from standard silk?

     

    While manufacturing Ahimsa Silk, it is ensured that the silkworm is safe. Unlike the usual method of creating silk, here the larva is allowed to grow into a moth that eventually leaves the cocoon once it is matured. The weavers then hand-spin the yarn left behind. It is not smooth and lustrous as regular silk, but it is comfortable to wear and has a better fall and softer texture once it is made into a garment.

  • Suzy Amis at Oscars Red Carpet wearing an Ahimsa silk gown3 of 3
    Suzy Amis at Oscars Red Carpet wearing an Ahimsa silk gown
    Fashion and Ahimsa Silk
     
    While the Indian market still has reservations about Ahimsa Silk owing to its high manufacturing costs and matte texture, the international market is abuzz with its eco-friendly appeal. In India, a number of designers, such as Wendell Rodricks, Deepika Govind, Anita Dongre and Samant Chauhan are known to favour the fabric. The New York-based label Ajna launched a collection made from Ahimsa silk at the London Fashion Week.
     
    International retail chains such as Marks & Spencer, Organic Avenue and US-based environmentally conscious fashion designers like Deborah Lindquist and Linda Loudermilk have appreciated India for being a flag bearer in this direction. Multi Grammy-winning pop star Madonna and Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow have already been fans of London-based designer Stella McCartney’s outfits made of Ahimsa Silk. Former actress and model Suzy Amis, wife of Hollywood director James Cameron, wore a blue Ahimsa Silk gown at the Academy Awards Red Carpet in 2010.
     
    Various online stores such as IndianRoots.com stock saris made with Ahimsa Silk, though they are usually priced slightly higher than regular silk saris.
     
    Would you prefer wearing Ahimsa Silk over normal silk? Let us know in the comment box below.

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