The story of Peace Silk: making the right choice
It’s not always about the big names and established designers. Urban Medley, an Amstelveen-based sustainable lifestyle brand launched on the eve of Corona, is determined to make its mark in the sustainable slow fashion sector. Drawing on traditional and centuries-old forms of printing and weaving from India, it aims to reintroduce old world charm to the conscious consumer in a modern look. Contemporary designs in bright colors give new meaning to antique hand printing on organic silk. Founder Shayonti explains, “ We are not bound by age, color and size, which is why we choose sustainable, handcrafted and ethically produced accessories as our primary focus. We give you the space to create your own style using the many fashion items we bring to you. We wanted to focus on the main fabric used by the brand for its range of handmade scarves and capes.
This is a cruelty-free or peaceful silk fabric, also known as Ahimsa silk. Silk, once the preserve of royalty and aristocrats, is the epitome of elegance and exuberance. However, what is often overlooked is the process of making the silk thread. Traditionally, cocoons were boiled with the silkworm still living inside, to maintain the length and strength of the silk fibers and give them a luxurious shine.
According to PETA, 3,000 silkworms are killed to produce half a kilo of silk. Boiling water loosens the sericin (glue that binds the filaments together) and fine silk filaments are extracted from the cocoon. The filaments are twisted to produce yarn which is then woven into a rich silk fabric.
In 1990, Kusuma Rajaiah, a silk farmer from Andhra Pradesh, India, found a way to create silk threads without harming the silkworms in any way: Peace or Ahimsa Silk was born.
Organic Peace Silk is produced from the cocoon naturally discarded by the silkworm after 30 days. The silkworm turns into a moth, pierces the cocoon and flies away, leaving the cocoon behind. This exposure to nature results in its truly multi-tone look, which cannot be duplicated by machine-made fabric. Piercing the cocoon results in many pieces of thread (instead of a continuous thread) which then have to be spun together to form a single thread, and the yield of silk filaments is about six times less once the cocoon is pierced. . Even though this process takes longer, the process is more ethical, humane and sustainable. It retains the purest qualities of silk.
Organic silk cultivation is a forest industry, where silkworms are bred outdoors in the wild. The worms feed on the leaves of Arjun, Sal and Castor. The yarn is produced in a completely unspoiled natural environment.
Peace or Ahimsa silk is less shiny than traditionally woven fabric and it has a beautiful textured body. Most of the time, the fabric is hand spun and hand woven, retaining the properties that are lost in conventional silk weave. It is warm in the winter and breathes in the summer, making it comfortable to use all year round.
Silk of peace – the cost to the consumer
Often times, sustainable and ethical fabrics can seem to cost more, but what a consumer should keep in mind is that sustainability is about achieving social, political and economic fairness. Cruelty-free silk production takes much longer. You have to wait for the caterpillar to metamorphose, so the production time is longer. Piercing the cocoon gives 6 times less silk filaments. This in turn makes the market price of silk higher than that of conventional silk. However, the consumer gets a cruelty-free fabric that is produced in a sustainable manner.
According to Shayonti, their products are considered heritage pieces and definitely support the “buy better, buy less” philosophy. Scarves and capes are accessories that can easily complement a range of outfits. They help to go from a formal look to a glamorous look and can be used multiple times. Most importantly, the product reflects a conscious mind and is not just a trend. The brand offers a wide range of colors and designs suitable for everyone. Currently, they wear hand-printed and hand-printed scarves and capes.
To build a brand and create awareness around it, you have to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Urban Medley is extremely aware of the impacts it has: working with artisans and enabling a community to earn a living with dignity by doing what they do best.
Read more about Urban Medley on the brand page: fashionunited.com/companies/urban-medley