AuthorTeam Lifestyle Food
India has a huge influence on how our fashion is made globally. We are also a huge consumer market. Our generation of conscious consumers is no longer content to buy into brands without first doing their research. while sustainability has long been considered the epitome of unconventional style, a new generation of designers and brands are re-stitching sustainability into everything they do and how! Whether they are sourcing organic fabrics through collectives empowering female workers or transforming vintage saree into lavishly contemporary dresses, theirs is an approach to mix environmental sustainability and luxury fashion.
This is the new way to Fashion – Here’s a look at 5 Indian Trailblazers in Sustainable fashion who are influencing real change.
Uma Prajapati, the bundle of energy so contagious that you cannot help being drawn into her aura, spearheads the movement for the usage of organic cotton in a sustainable fashion. Upasana, her brainchild, is her device in creating awareness about the farmer suicides in India, which is the most sensitive issue today. Upasana is also working towards women and social empowerment.
Uma’s journey began when she visited Auroville a couple of decades ago for a two-week project and these two weeks in Auroville has had a life-changing impact on her and she founded Upasana in 1997! She has been consistently working towards making fashion accountable to society and contributing to fashion in innumerable innovative ways. Healing textile is just one of them! The healing textile is a holistic blend of organic cotton and the healing powers of curative Ayurvedic herbs – Tulsi, Sandal, and Neem. These herbs not only give the fabric its medicinal benefits but also their distinctive colors! Wearing these garments is a therapeutic experience for your skin.
On being asked about the lifespan of organic clothing, Uma shares with us this profound thought, “We silently celebrate the fading of natural dyes as we gracefully watch ourselves change through time. We design for mortality while honoring life, nature and inner growth.” Wow! Now, this is what we need to understand. We are trying to find immortality in fashion not considering the harmful impact this can cause the environment. It is time we embrace our mortality along with the mortality of the pieces that we own.
Karishma Shahani Khan
Karishma Shahani Khan is a Fashion Design & Technology graduate from the London College of Fashion (UK). Her Pune label Ka-Sha is her way of celebrating Indian craft and foster a sense of utility and value for the material. The label aims to re-interpret materials based on current needs and functionality. She has a very keen eye for the connection between repurposing and style.
Upcycling being the core value of Ka-Sha, it endeavors zero waste which they rightly call “Heart to Haat”. It thrives on ideas of waste management using their skills as designers to recycle and up-cycle to create functional products that re-interpret materials based on current needs.Ka-Sha’s designs celebrate handicraft, in all its forms, adding individualistic expressions to each product.
Ka-Sha has bold usage of colors and materials in the most stylistic way. The customers can’t just get enough of her masterpieces! No one can buy just one! What she spins out for the people is just perfectly tailor-made and this creates an individual style.
As a true fashion stylist, she is creating one-of-a-kind works of art that literally has a story to tell. On the topic of making this planet greener, Karishma opines, “I believe educating customers is very essential. It’s about thinking sustainably on every level, and taking something that might look to have no purpose, remembering it too has a story and finding the purpose in it again.” Next time you have a piece of textile you want to turn into something mesmerizing, you know where to go to!
A software engineer turned entrepreneur, Apurva Kothari is the brain and heart behind No Nasties brand. No Nasties is as ethical and as sustainable a brand could get! We have Shweta, Apurva’s wife, their awesome in-house fashion designer too to thank, who creates their great fits! No Nasties is the first India brand to be PETA licensed. All their pieces are 100% organic certified cotton, as certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), 100% fair trade and 100% Vegan cotton clothing.
Moved by the dishearting number of farmers committing suicide, which is 2 suicides every hour, Apurva finally decided to leave his technology career and jump to the world of ethical fashion. As for the role No Nasties could play in the ethical fashion, he says, “We do not want it to become a giant national brand! We want it to be a small niche player. But we want it to have a big impact and create an avalanche effect, leading other brands to follow suit”.
The surprises for a Greener Planet does not stop here! They have a No Nasties Grove, where they plant a tree for every online purchase, every email sign up and every single day in business and they have planted 7,433 trees till date. Remember that every time you make a purchase, you’re casting a vote to see more of what you want in the world. Buying organic and fairtrade means supporting farming communities globally and creating a healthier planet. Buy a T and get a TREE!
Kriti Tula, Fashion Designer and the Founder of Doodlage, is a graduate from Pearl Academy of Fashion and London School of Fashion. We are buying more, discarding fast, paying less but spending more and reusing nothing. Very early on her journey as a designer she had realized that she wanted to create a brand that allows consumers to make better choices. The idea is to start Doodlage is to produce garments that are completely upcycled. Their raw material is 100% factory refuse fabric.
At Doodlage, they approach circularity holistically. They create these pieces with fair wage units or ethical spaces, little scraps are patched together to create scrap to fab collections. They do not let even the tiny minuscule bits of fabric to go waste too! The remaining bits are turned into paper for stationery products and tags for their products.
Answering to what their innovative ideas are, Kriti replies “The process of making home and accessories or even introducing paper out of fabric waste has been quite exciting. Our products are packed in bioplastics that are 100% biodegradable and the final layer of the packaging is reusable fabric totes made from our own leftovers. We are now working to launch the buyback program.” All their products come with a mending kit too to keep your clothing going for much longer!
An alumna of the London College of Fashion, Ruchika Sachdeva founded Bodice in 2011 to create the future of Indian fashion by using elements from the country. Sachdeva’s work has received international praise and has been awarded the prestigious International Woolmark Prize. With its thoughtful designs, Bodice also practices artisanal processes, spins out beautiful high-quality textiles with the longevity of use, and classic designs with a twist.
What makes Bodice’s binding pleated dresses, one of its special line, resplendent and comfortable at the same time is the use of artisanal non-heat treated techniques to create the pleats and the highest quality cotton or light merino wool blend which have thermal properties that creates a cooling effect in the tropical summer heat, wicking away moisture and letting air pass through and around the body.
Encouraging budding designers Ruchika says, “Textiles which are using natural dyes are not always uniform and this can create huge problems, meaning if an order from a buyer is made and more fabric has to be obtained, there can be color variations between different batches. So a big tip I would give to budding designers is to be patient, take each set back with your sourcing process as an opportunity to learn and find workable and sustainable solutions.”
Bodice is making preloved clothes fashionable again. If buying preloved clothing doesn’t become the new normal or mending old clothes continues to be frowned upon, we will continue to build mountains of fabric and garment waste which will not decompose for another 200 years. These ideas have to reach beyond a niche.