Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.
You’ll commonly hear discussions surrounding consumer consciousness, fair wages, environmental destruction, and sustainability when you think of trending fashion topics. Consequently, 2020 brought many social and cultural issues to light, and it also started a global movement towards sustainable fashion choices.
Many of us in the US are shifting away from fast fashion shopping habits, and this attitude is becoming more prevalent in India. Here are some favorite Indian brands and designers spearheading eco-friendly and ethical and sustainable fashion and deserve to be highlighted:
1. Ka Sha
First off the bat is a brand with the motto “heart to haat”. Ka Sha embraces a system that upcycles, recycles, and mends waste into functional crafts and pieces. Founded in 2012, the brand strongly believes in preserving traditional artisan techniques and following the 3 Rs of sustainability: reusing, repurposing, and reclaiming.
2. Supriya Lele
Next comes a cross-cultural label that examines designer Supriya Lele’s Indian heritage and British cultural identity. Starting in 2017, the brand has caught many eyeballs for its grunge aesthetic with a combo of vibrant traditional prints and Indian textiles. It is to be noted that the brand’s commitment to sustainability in craftsmanship, garment longevity and cerebral, breathtaking silhouettes is being appreciated universally.
3. Rias Jaipur
Their tagline isn’t just a hashtag. #SAVETHEINDIANTEXTILE is a small initiative started by founders, Arshia & Avishek, who graduated from NIFT. This Jaipur-based brand focuses on two ancient Indian crafts: Dabu/bagru & hand block printing. Their primary aim is to combine local artisan talent with modern designs.
4. Roopa Pemmaraju
By Hand. From the Heart. This consciously slow luxury fashion employs skilled Indian artisans and pays them a fair wage. Although designed in New York, each garment is stitched by hand using a combo of sustainable fabrics and traditional Indian hand block printing and embroidery.
Cultivating a regenerative fashion system from the soil up. In 2016 by Nishanth Chopra, Oshadi translates to “essence of nature” or “healing plant” in Sanskrit with a very earthy, innovative approach. They have built a seed-to-sew supply chain process using ancient Indian agricultural practices and harvesting a 50-acre regenerative cotton farm. Additionally, they support local artisans to create a mixture of contemporary designs with a hint of tradition that honors the garments’ land.
6. Runaway Bicycle
Stemming from the philosophy: “comfort over form,” Runaway Bicycle’s modest but elegant essential pieces are timeless staples. Founder Preeti Verma noticed a need for comfortable sartorial choices and believed the most comfortable clothes are created for children and people employed in labor. Despite the lack of fashion experience, they use traditional weaving techniques and a more time-consuming approach to making fabrics. This sustainable approach to fabric production increases the longevity of their garments. Subsequently, it eradicates the dependence on seasonal trends and fast-changing wardrobes because they believe their pieces will become more comfortable with each wear.
Made from fabric waste, this idea stemmed from founders Kriti Tula’s and Paras Arora’s childhood memories of repurposing garments, which was a deeply rooted middle-class tradition. They believe in the basic mantra: cherish everything and make it last longer. Moreover, by upcycling factory waste into short limited edition collections and recycling post-consumer waste into new designs, they can lessen the burden on earth’s natural resources.
8. The Summer House
Rekha and Shivangi envisioned a feminine silhouette with undeniable sophistication achieved through rural artisans and high-quality fabrics. They have one of the most significant partnerships with vetted local NGOs that aid vulnerable craft communities from being exploited. In this digital age, they work with over 17 craft clusters across India to preserve traditional craft techniques and develop heritage pieces that can last generations.
Bodice began their journey in West Delhi when designer Ruchika Sachdeva combined traditional Indian roots with complex architectural lines and detail-focused silhouettes. Each garment component comes from renewable sources (example: buttons and other detailings from coconut shells, seashells, and wood). On top of all that, they pride themselves in using various locally cultivated fabrics and shipping garments in biodegradable and reusable packaging.
10. Chola The Label
Lastly, Sohaya Misra’s brand embodies versatility and uses recycled cotton, following the ethos of simplicity and relaxed fit. The brand continues filling each collection with staple pieces that follow the “less is more” mantra. Furthermore, she emphasizes a woman’s comfort and ease of layering above all else.