In the ongoing discourse of sustainability and degrowth, cross-cultural design collaborations emerge as a promising strategy to bridge the global economic disparities. They simultaneously offer to address the longstanding issue of cultural appropriation that came with the rise of modern fashion consumerism. But to comprehensively analyze the problems of cultural appropriation, it is essential to understand the relevance of “culture” within creative communities that have largely practiced sustainability much before the popularization of the term itself.

This talk serves as an introduction to the nuances of cultural sustainability with particular focus on India’s handmade industry. In a country with a vast population, a diverse craft and textile heritage, a complex colonial history, and the pursuit for a postcolonial identity to integrate with the global economy – the issues surrounding ethical, equitable, and sustainable fashion are multifaceted. This practice-based research seeks to foster a constructive dialogue to navigate the intricacies between modern fashion and the rich cultures of artisanal craftsmanship, to encourage possibilities for equitable international cross-cultural design exchanges.