The size of the global apparel business is growing and is expected to generate double digit growth between now and 2020. However, in its current mode of production, the apparel business is resulting in negative social and ecological externalities. A large share of textiles, are not consumed, and end up as waste: 15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up as waste on the cutting floor; of all clothing produced, 30% is sold at full price, 30% on sale, and 40% goes waste.
India is the second largest textile manufacturer in the world. Besides being a prominent player in textile manufacturing, India also holds a top position in textile recycling. A significant portion of the value added across each stage of manufacturing is lost during the traditional recycling process. This essentially means that most textile waste is ‘down-cycled’ into products such as blankets and insulation material.
The Indian textile industry also has a long history of poor pay and poor working conditions. The mechanised part of the textile industry directly competes with the 4.3 Million Indian handloom industry workers, of whom several are women. Consequently, a lot of these women have become unemployed. Recent estimates hold that about 57% of all Indian weavers now live below the poverty line, and many of them are burdened by debt.
Khaloom converts the problem of large volumes of production waste and the stressful living conditions of workers in the textile sector into a social business opportunity. Khaloom produces sustainable fabric made from recycled textiles by using traditional Indian hand-spinning and handloom weaving techniques. In this way, Khaloom adds value to waste, and creates high-quality fabrics that can be injected back into the primary apparel value chain. By combining upcycling with craftsmanship, Khaloom creates a unique value proposition that taps into the growing market for sustainable textiles.
Khaloom provides employment opportunities for women in rural areas, allowing women to stay with their families and improve their relative incomes. Furthermore, Khaloom proves that globalized production chains can be complemented with decentralized upcycling by artisan networks, in which women play a central role. Khaloom’s decentralized set-up is inspired by cooperative models, which would ensure that labour conditions for the workers will be safeguarded - even during scaling of the venture.