The Textile And Fashion Industry From The Point Of View Of An Accomplished Educationist.

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Dr. Ela has been contributing to the Textile and Fashion industry for 38 years. With her immense background of education and experience as an educationist, researcher, consultant, advisor, designer and social worker she highlights the changes the industry is going through bringing to light the conscious consumers and how designers, stylists, manufacturers, retailers, academicians and consumers are ecologically helping to make changes to contribute to a better universe.          

Share your Educational and Professional Journey with us.

I am currently the Incharge Principal, IQAC Coordinator, President of IIC- Innovation Cell and Head of Department of the Textile & Fashion Technology at College of Home Science Nirmala Niketan, affiliated to University of Mumbai, NAAC Accredited A Grade.

I have committed 38 vital years in the dynamic field of Textile, Fashion and Apparel Education.

I acquired Ph.D. in Home Science, Clothing and Textiles from SNDT Women’s University in 1996; MSc in Home Science, Textile Chemistry & Clothing with a 2nd rank at the University of Mumbai in 1983 along with Masters Research at UDCT, now ICT; BSc in Home Science, Textiles & Clothing, from the University of Mumbai in 1981; P. G. Diploma in Education Management where I topped at the SNDT Women’s University in 1997; P. G. Diploma in Higher Education from University of Mumbai in 1984; Diploma in Textile Designing from Rachna Sansad 1985, Diploma in Computer Aided Design and various technical skill based courses accomplished between 1998 to 2002. I completed Diploma and Certificate in Jainism from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Mumbai in 1998, completed Diploma and Certificate in Sanskrit from Department of Sanskrit in 1999. I am currently studying Universal Human Values through AICTE & NCC-IP right from the start of the Pandemic period to date.

I believe in continuous education and therefore will always remain a student. I am blessed with Great Gurus in the past and present to date and hence could pursue personal and professional life simultaneously with continuous education.

After my graduation and Post-graduation, I began my teaching career in 1983 in the Department of Textiles & Clothing at College of Home Science Nirmala Niketan, affiliated to University of Mumbai, NAAC Accredited A Grade. I have grown in this Institution due to the varied exposure that I had within and outside the Institution.

I have been an advisor and consultant to educational institutions across India.

I believe in working in continuity towards education and empowerment of the youth. Connected with various organizations and Institutions, my activities also focus on training the physically and mentally challenged; the tribal, rural and urban under privileged women and youth; and the various artisan clusters in the country. I consider this as my responsibility.

I am the Recipient of the Fellow of the Textile Association of India; the Bronze Medal of Society of Dyers & Colorist, UK.; and the Kutch Shakti Award.

I have consulted technical research projects for UNDP, Ministry of Environment and Textiles on Natural Dyes; Khadi and Village Industries Commission for Yarn, Fabric, Apparel and Product development; University Grants Commission (UGC) for Craft researches and several others; Corporate Industries for strategies and design; Rural Crafts Clusters for imparting income generating skills.

I have organized many State, National and International Conferences /Seminars /Workshops.

I have authored over 100 papers in reputed National, International Journals and been an invited speaker at Conferences in India and Abroad; authored two books – 1. Ajrakh- Expressions and Impressions; and 2. Compendium of Natural Dyes. Two more books are in process of publication.

I have been the Editor and Reviewer, for Journal of ARAHE- Asian Regional Association of Home Economics; Editorial Advisor, Design and Art Journal of the International University Jaipur; Editor, Research Reach Journal, College of Home Science Nirmala Niketan; Referee, Journal of Textile Association, Colourage and several other.

I am a PhD. Research Guide for University of Mumbai and SNDT Women’s University and have successfully guided almost 20 PhD research scholars and have two patents published.

I have been an invited Visiting Faculty for esteemed Institutions and been on the Jury for several Fashion Shows of reputed Institutions such as NIFT, SOFT, SNDT-PVP, and several others.

I have been a Representative for India Zone (9 countries), Asian Regional Association of Home Economics, (ARAHE); office bearer of Home Science Association of India; Trustee Chairperson of Society of Dyers & Colorist, India region. I am the Member of Professional Awards Committee, The Textile Association of India.

I have been a Member of Advisory Boards/ Boards of Studies/Selection Committee of esteemed Institutions/Universities/ Boards.

Presently associated with various NGO’s and Professional reputed Bodies.

Being an educationist, how has your journey unfolded?

As an academician, every day is full of new experiences and learnings. Every expert and every student have added to my own development as an educationist. Continuous learning and unlearning have been a part of life. Textile and the Fashion world has been moving at a very fast pace and it is important that we keep pace with it and work out strategies to adapt to it optimally. 

As a Mentor, what qualities and capabilities you admire in students? 

Every student is unique and capable in something or the other. Development of the youth brings enormous happiness and growth in ourselves and to the society. Each and every child has some ability and talent, and it’s our responsibility as a mentor/teacher to unfold and channelize their energies and skills in the right way for timely and effective outcomes. The youth have a passion for their profession and the zeal to achieve it. With the right guidance they are able to innovate and achieve the unimaginable.

How do you think the textile and fashion industry has evolved in the last few years?

Style and fashion advances each day, change is the only constant. Past four decades have been adaptation of technology, fast fashion and changing trends on one side and on the opposite side we have seen an extensive and conscious move towards Green, eco-conscious and sustainable production and consumption. Designers, brand owners and stylists are getting increasingly more conscious about global issues.  Consumers are also getting progressively trained for green lifestyle through corporates and NGO’s.  There is no doubt that the youth is more sensible and sensitive about global concerns which would help future generations for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Is sustainable fashion/ Sustainability really followed by consumer or industry? What are your thoughts about it? Is it relevant and important?

Sustainability is the need of the hour and our industry is going through this revolutionary change internally to have a responsible and transparent supply chain. Consumers are more active and are moreover demanding fair trade and environmentally sensitivity in fashion. Sustainability is becoming a habit and a serious practice at all levels. Our khadi, hand-looms, hand embroidery, natural fibers, natural dyes, hand dyeing and printing have always been sustainable and mantras like Atmanirbharta, Made in India, Make in India, Vocal for local, Sustainability, etc.  are becoming the New Normal.

What are the latest trends in the industry?

In the Pandemic period, we are all passing through major introspection. All seasonal trends and factors influencing them have become redundant overnight. The new normal lifestyle and devastating global economy is definitely affecting our purchase making decisions. Locally Made, Locally Sourced products, Made in India, recycle, upcycle, minimalistic are the new trends. Technical textiles in medical sector and non-medical sector has grown by leaps and bounds bringing India in the forefront. Textiles that contributes to health and medical features have become more important compared to those that are only aesthetically driven.

How do you think the industries are responding to the green movement that has been going around the world?

Environment sensitive production and consumption, renewal and alternative sources of energy and stricter global trade standards are certainly helping us reduce the carbon footprints at national and global level. Ecological reformation is being adapted right from fibers, yarn, fabric and apparel/product, chemicals used, right from raw material sourcing to production to the end of the supply chain. Each and every aspect from Production to Promotion has gone through reformation to make textile and fashion, environmentally responsible.

How have you personally adopted sustainability in your life?

I have been in the process of self-reflection and self-exploration since more than two and a half decades during which I have adapted/moved to a life style which focuses on ‘giving up’, ‘letting go’, recycle, reuse, reduce, upcycle, etc. to an extent that does not affect basic lifestyle but helps to conserve nature and contributes towards a sustainable society. I have been directing students to researches that contribute to environmental, economic and social sustainability. Also, being involved in designing curriculum at various levels such as local, national and University/Institutional, has brought about a long-term positive change in the skills and mindset of the youth through its implementation.  I am involved with vocational guidance and training of women and youth with an inclusive approach thus including along with the able, privileged and exposed, individuals who are differently abled and their teachers/caretakers; the urban, rural and tribal underprivileged and lesser exposed. I also believe in technological innovations and transfer of knowledge from lab to field, to solve the challenges faced by society at the national and global level for a sustainable world and thus as the President of IIC (Institution Innovation Cell), of MHRD, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Govt. of India systematically foster the culture of Innovation within the Institution, direct students in their formative years to think, ideate, design, innovate, create, make prototypes, launch social enterprises, train the needy and disadvantaged thus contribute to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.