When was the last time you went out shopping? It truly seems like a far-away dream in the midst of this pandemic but go ahead- give it some thought. With the pandemic throwing a wrench in weekly shopping expeditions, many people have turned to online shopping in an attempt to fill this void. And of course, it is but natural to scour online websites for fashionable, but cheap, clothing – but we forget, despite the small price tag, these clothes come bearing a heavy price.
Many fashion brands outsource the manufacture of their clothes to underpaid labour, using cheap, lower quality material which often gets degraded after just a few wears. This is done to keep up with consumer demand but with the way clothes are rapidly used and discarded, they end up creating a lot of waste, adding to pre-existing landfills. It is the acknowledgment of these harmful consequences which has now led fashion brands to be more sustainable.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION?
Sustainable fashion is the movement and process of promoting the fashion industry to be more eco-friendly and socially responsible. This includes using environmentally friendly material for making clothes such as organic and recycled cotton, organic hemp, organic linen, and recycled nylon (aka econyl).
As opposed to the lower quality clothes of fast fashion brands, sustainable fashion opts for better quality materials which last longer, and in better condition, dismissing the consumer’s excuse for shopping due to clothes getting worn out.
Sustainable fashion can be grouped into broad categories for better understanding. These include ethical and eco-conscious fashion which is better in quality and has a longer shelf-life, upcycled fashion, custom-made and on-demand clothes, renting clothes, and thrift stores. While ‘custom-made clothes’ is a pretty self-explanatory term, the others are explained below for your benefit.
ECO-CONSCIOUS AND ETHICAL FASHION
An increasing number of brands are making an effort to produce clothes in a more ethical and eco-conscious manner, keeping in mind employees’ working conditions and the environmental impact they have. Here are a few such brands:
1. Anita Dongre Grassroot
Anita Dongre is a name everyone is familiar with. This Indian fashion designer is reputed for her fashion house, House of Anita Dongre, and she launched Anita Dongre Grassroot, an eco-friendly brand focusing on handcrafted designs, in 2015. While providing local artisans with jobs, Grassroot offers a wide array of designs, prints and accessories to choose from, ranging in size and price range.
Based in Auroville, a township in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Uma Prajapati’s Upasana is a brand that champions sustainable fashion using organic cotton, natural dyes and handlooms as a mode of production. It also gives back to the community through projects which aim to bring attention to and provide aid for problems such as post-tsunami trauma, losing jobs as weavers, farmer suicides, garbage littering, and an excess of plastic. While its social initiatives are incredible, so are its vibrant and creative designs and patterns that won’t be going out of style anytime soon!
3. No Nasties
Founded by Apurva Kothari in 2011, No Nasties is a sustainable fashion brand that focuses on providing consumers with clothes that are made of organic cotton, are vegan (made without harming animals) and are Fairtrade certified (which guarantees a certain minimum price to producers as well as ensures good working conditions). With a fashion line packed with gorgeous prints and colours, No Nasties extends its consumer demographic to men, women and children!
4. Brown Boys
Founder Prateek Kayan started Brown Boys after seeing the unethical and harmful practices of fast fashion brands, striving to create a brand that used 100% organic cotton and fairtrade practices. Brown Boys boasts of a wide range of vibrant t-shirts, vests, sweatshirts, and athletic wear for men and women.
Additionally, a lot of brands focus on upcycling, that is, reusing discarded materials to produce a new product that is much higher in value. Some of these brands are:
Another high-end brand, Ka-Sha is based in Pune and is reputed for its innovative and creative approach to sustainable fashion. In fact, its initiative ‘Heart to Haat’ is a refreshing and bold take on repurposing and reusing non-recyclable textile waste to produce a beautiful line of clothing, bags, and accessories!
2. ASOS Reclaimed Vintage Line
The ASOS Reclaimed Vintage line sources vintage and retro designs from all across the world, reworking it to give it a modern look. Not only is this line affordable but it is also extremely trendy for both, men and women.
Doodlage makes uses of fabrics discarded by large manufacturers (which would otherwise be added to landfills) in addition to organic cotton, corn, and banana fabric to produce clothes that while being incredibly stylish and fashionable are also environmentally friendly.
4. House of Wandering Silk
House of Wandering Silk employs marginalized female artisans from a number of Asian countries to produce stunning clothes with bold silhouettes, jewellery and accessories by hand, using upcycled materials. While aiming to produce minimal wastage, this brand takes care not to compromise on its creativity!
It is important to keep in mind, however, that while we might want to always do right by the environment, quite a few ethical and eco-conscious brands land on the higher side of the price scale. However, this is not to say that sustainable fashion brands are not affordable altogether as a few of the brands listed above to provide a vast price range for their consumers. In addition to these brands, one must keep in mind the rising trend of online thrift-shops in India. Not only do these stores provide you with an array of fashion options, but they are also extremely wallet-friendly!
Here are a few thrift shops for you to check out:
1. Red Empress Label
An online thrift-store based in Mumbai, Red Empress Label is a class apart, with beautiful vintage pieces, often sourced from Auckland. This beautifully curated collection with its captivating silhouettes and bold designs is both affordable and accessible, as opposed to a lot of vintage fashion in India.
2. The Salvage Story
Another thrift store that operates through Instagram, The Salvage Story promotes vintage, chic, and hipster clothing while further adding to the customer experience by making their Instagram page easily navigable and user-friendly.
3. Collections Reloved
Yet another online thrift store, Collections Reloved provides its customers with extremely budget-friendly, stylish outfits that go through stringent quality checks before they are sold. Its branded range of handbags, accessories, and clothes is definitely something to look out for!
While there are quite a few brands and thrift stores which support green fashion, the true benefits of sustainable fashion cannot be felt until larger corporations and fashion brands decide to go down a similar climate-friendly path. So, while consumers can play a part in reducing the environmental impact of fashion, the onus ultimately lies with corporations to create a fashion industry that is more sustainable, affordable, and accessible to all people!