“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
Today, from the moment we wake up, a flurry of all things bad, wrong, painful, and worrisome haunt us, and reality bears an uncomfortably close resemblance to a post-apocalyptic novel. For the past few months, the time has frozen solid and our present has come to a standstill. The mistakes of our past lurk at every corner of every medium, ready to tell us yet another (often true) doomsday story. “Fashion is toxic.” “Love is lost.” “The future seems bleak with uncertainties.” But. Just. For. A. Second. STOP.
Unclench your jaw, relax your back, let yourself dream a little in envisioning a healthier, brighter, happier future where conversations about our planet are powerfully gentle and your fashion decisions are an act of kindness to Mother Earth. To help you breathe life to this dream, we present to you Runway Square x Gucci Vision Boards wherein six flag bearers of sustainability in India write notes, poems, love letters to their vision of the future. To paint their words in dream-like visuals, we asked 6 fantastic street art artists under XXL Collective (the people behind St+Art India street art festival) to create murals, aka vision boards. Shot online via phones in true 2020 fashion, the editorial is woven together by the bags from Gucci’s Off The Grid collection. Off The Grid is a circular collection that uses recycled, organic, bio-based and sustainably sourced materials, including ECONYL®, a regenerated nylon made from nylon off-cuts and pre and post-consumer waste.
Karuna Ezara Parikh, Writer & Poet + Tara Anand, Artist
Letter From The Future
“Look, people don’t like to admit it now, but the revolution didn’t come easy. At the time, it didn’t feel like some noble cause. Most people called the now ruling party, the Green Democracy, simply known as GD, the “Green Dictatorship”. They would say it all the time. People didn’t like that they were suddenly allowed only one car per household at most. Or that the car had to be electric or else you paid higher taxes on it. It was unfathomable.
It started soon after the Pandemic of 2020. People called it Corona or Covid 19 then, but now, 25 years later, we just refer to it as The Change, and to 2020 as GD Zero. What happened? I guess it was a glimpse of blue skies we got then? I was 35 and I remember seeing the AQI drop to numbers like 25. I know, that would be considered a smog crisis today. Back then, it was a dream.
It started as a revolution, and I was part of it. People began by demanding small things. Not small stuff like paper straws (they used to be plastic at the time), but small like carpool lanes, water harvesting tanks in each area, solar panels. Then slowly, the demands became bigger. I remember City By The Sea (then Mumbai) was the first big city to implement rooftop gardens on every single building. The millions of gardens on roofs you see today? That wasn’t the case then. Then it became mandatory. Of course, as soon as they implemented that rule, the birds and bees came back. It was maybe 2024 when the summer temperatures dropped considerably. Doctors noticed people stopped falling sick so much, too. By then the revolutionaries were an organised political party. We weren’t some “scattered force of students who remain socialists forever”. Someone wrote that to me once as an insult. It’s hilarious to you now because well…what sane person isn’t a socialist now, but those were greedier times and the world ran on capitalism. But once the Green Democracy came to power, the links between capitalism and the world’s end were made public. They started by cancelling all the projects that would harm forests and that was that.
One of the other first changes the party made when they came to power was changing the school curricula. Before the green revolution, no one studied farming or botany or green power. It was this weird niche thing. They made it compulsory. There was an uproar about that, to be honest. But here we are…look around you. You don’t know how spoilt your generation is, or what we went through in the 2020s for you to have the world you do today. To have libraries at each block or all those elephants towards the south of the city. Or that the Siberian Cranes pass by here each year. You have no idea the fears we once had that whales would die out. But here you are, thinking of them the way we once thought of puppies—precious, but not uncommon.
Someday, I’ll tell you what it was like to live back then. And what it took to reach where we are today.”
7th day of the 7th month of 2045 (Year GD 25)
Aishwarya Sharma, Fashion Activist + Osheen Siva, Muralist
A bigger vision
“A greater purpose,
A chance to create a better world,
A conscious world,
A world where fashion enables change,
Where fashion isn’t just fast,
Where fashion doesn’t discriminate,
Where fashion is an asset, not a liability
An equal world,
A world where labour rights are upheld,
Where fashion won’t cost lives.
Where sustainability isn’t only right but also easy.
A world that is better for women through fashion,
Than in spite of it.
Where every purchase is a vote,
For the future, for the world we truly want.
One, where clothes you wear tell the stories of people who made them.
A shift from materialistic culture to a more intentional one,
Where consumers are connected with who made their clothes,
Where ‘sustainable practices’ not only build an urgently healthy planet but also make way for an equal world,
For fashion to focus, not only on outer but inner appearances
I call for renew-ability in fashion, climate and culture.”
Mukul Bhatia, Photojournalist, Author + A-KILL, Graffiti Artist
Love Letter to Fellow Earthlings
“It’s 2020, and the world is changing. The form is changing, the function is changing, the mind is changing, and more so, your planet is changing. It’s time to ask questions, it’s also time to answer them. The planet isn’t a transit lounge, it’s your home and of your future generations to stay.
So be kind, and start this kindness from yourself. Clean all your homes-mind, heart, body, spirit, and earth. Eat right, wear right, and treat your fellow earthlings the way you’d like to be treated.
Sustainability isn’t just an $80 organic cotton t-shirt. It’s the mark of your intelligence, mark of your taste. It’s not a sassy new addition in your wardrobe or an ephemeral design upgrade, it’s grounded objectivity is of asking who made your threads, and what were they paid. Sustainability isn’t about sacrifice, it’s actually the opposite. It’s human design, done right. It’s the decolonization of power, it’s reclaiming better earth and better you. It’s time to create your own narration of the world you’d like to create, rather than the world that was given to you.
You are the world, and the world is you. Your questions go a long way, your hard-earned money goes even farther. Every dollar you spend is a democratic choice of the community or cause you to wish to grow.
Face the mirror, and ask those questions; do you really want 5 mediocre dresses made in a sweatshop, or would you rather indulge in something (price notwithstanding) that is stitched right, and supports craftsmen; do you want to ‘look’ right, or do you want to ‘feel’ right?
I think you deserve more. Do you love yourself enough to protect the world around you? It’s time we question.”
Trisha Shetty, Founder & CEO – SheSays + Khatra (Sid Gohil), Artist
We have been set up.
“We are drowning in hate and divisive politics; the earth is burning up and we’ve made enemies of our neighbours. This time tomorrow, within the next 24 hours, we will have lost 150 to 200 species to climate extinction.
The climate crisis is an existential threat to our human race, our planet, our future; there is too much at stake for us to be at the mercy of political will.
The good news is that politicians and political will are renewable resources. Our leaders forget this.
We have been set up to believe that we are at their mercy. But we must speak, for our lips are free, the sacred truth that Faiz left us with.
We have a moral obligation to speak up for we are not dead yet. And if living in silence, scared of speaking up, witnessing as passive bystanders when our neighbours’ human rights are stripped away from them isn’t being dead, then what is?
History will bear witness to our actions. We speak for our collective legacy must be one where we did everything we could to leave no one behind.”
Ekta Rajani, Stylist, Creative Consultant + Aravani Art Project
Where does the future live?
Except in potential; in what we do in this moment.
“It’s with few steps, whenever able,
In making life choices as small acts of mindfulness.
Accepting the whole is beyond my control while playing one’s part in it.
Acting in the present, in the way it is;
Creating waves of possibilities in an ocean of uncertainties;
Or sowing seeds that grow the way they will.
With intention, without guarantees.
As life is paradoxical, this part is challenging.
It’s also liberating to realise we are but small cogs in a wheel
That life in its largeness is beyond our sense of significance or existence.
This perspective is both awesome and wonderful all at once.
I try to go with the latter. That, for me, makes the sense I need to stay motivated.
If I act in the now, with what I understand, with what others share;
An open road journey to learning.
Allowing for re-evaluations and forgiveness for mistakes;
This is a way, and then there are many others.
Together feels better, it almost always is.
Maybe it is together, then, that we can act towards conscious ways to think
About design, materials, consumption, and waste.
And live without believing that there is little that can be done.
The future exists in our imaginations, in these little actions, in innumerable possibilities.
The present though comes with a few choices.
And change comes as much from ripples of evolution as it does from sweeps of revolution.”
This is a haiku I wrote for when I feel overwhelmed; it calms me in moments of doubt and brings me back to my acts:
“Waves dance radiant and free
As droplets hold on to each other
In and as the ocean”
Nayantara Jain, Marine Biologist + DO (Nikunj Prajapati)
“The world will emerge from this pandemic, and we will too. But I hope we do so changed. I hope we continue to marvel at the swirls in a seashell. I hope, that our now bigger hearts have room for the oceans. We had taken for granted a world of abundance. That so long as we could afford it, we could jet across the seas for a weekend in a tropical paradise. We could eat the oceans empty while filling it with plastic waste. That we could inhale pure oxygen in spas that we drove our carbon-emitting SUVs to. Now, as we emerge from our time sitting at home, I hope we begin to savour the scarcity.
I hope we spend time at the beach, inhaling the fresh sea air with deep long breaths, and do everything we can to keep our atmosphere clean. That we say no to quick-fix plastic and instead spend time and money and effort on re-using, upcycling, repairing, and valuing the old. That each time we eat a piece of fish, we remember that it came from an ocean of life, and that life has to be nurtured. I hope we clean our beaches the way we learned to clean our hands- often, and with care. I hope that instead of jet skiing across its surface, making waves, we dive deep into the sea, leaving not even a ripple. On a single, precious, breath. That we commune with the fish inside and build that connection with the same patience we showed our fluctuating wi-fi as we connected with friends over a Zoom call. That we open our eyes to her beauty, to her fragility, and to her incredible importance even when we are upon land. That we sail across her, on a slow boat, picking up the garbage on her surface till we can see down to her very depths and understand, finally, that she is home.”
Off The Grid is a part of Gucci Equilibrium, the house’s commitments and actions to reduce its carbon footprint, protect nature, while supporting people’s rights and championing inclusivity and respect.
Concept + Text + Creative Direction: Charu Gaur / Runway Square
Editorial Production: Karishma Gulyani / Runway Square
Photographer: Dolly Haorambam / Feat Artists
Stylist: Rishi Raj
Photo Editing: Aloka Laishram / Feat Artists
Copy Editing: Shubhanjana Das
Artworks: Osheen Siva, DO, A-KIll, Aravani Art Project, Tara Anand and Khatra at XXL Collective
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