Sustainable fashion in India is not just a buzzword that’s having a moment among highbrow insiders anymore. Increasingly brands are taking cognizance of it and recognising the need to make various aspects of their design and functioning more relevant to the environment and local workforce. If you are looking to take a step in this direction these are the 9 cool sustainable fashion brands in India worth checking out.
Launched in 2011, Karishma Shahani’s label Ka-Sha has been at the forefront of upcycling. Since its inception, Shahani has ensured she operates on a zero-wastage policy. Be it using old vegetable sacks and rejected plastic bags to make jackets, or creating pieces out of old Benarasi saris or even making denim jackets from discarded jeans, Shahani is promoting upcycling whichever way she can. She also creates signature pom poms, footwear, and scarves from leftover fabric in her studio.
If you thought upcycling would result in monotonous, shabby pieces, then you need to only look at Doodlage. With sustainability and innovation at its heart, Kriti Tula’s label boasts edgy patchwork jackets, delicate shrugs and exquisite shirts. Tula, who launched Doodlage in 2012, was first drawn to the idea of sustainability during her internship, where she came across large mounds of rejected fabric pieces; she took on the challenge of putting them to better use than to discard them. Over the years she has worked with a number of fabric manufacturers from all over India, using their leftover pieces to create something new and meaningful, thereby making Doodlage one of the most interesting sustainable fashion brands in India.
Dave was always intrigued by rural India’s use of indigenous techniques for dyeing, and when he launched his eponymous label in 2011, he made sure to incorporate this facet of sustainability in his work. He uses natural ingredients to dye and cleanse his fabrics, and washes and dries them under the sun ensuring minimum wastage of resources. The intricately done tie and dye pieces and bandhini are soaked in organic colours, and the printing happens with hand blocks.
The brainchild of Shani Himanshu and Mia Morikawa, 11.11/eleven eleven focuses on sustainable modes of production specific to their work with khadi and silk. They have created Khadi Denim, 200-count Khadi Cotton, Silk and Ahimsa Silk, which they use to create 11.11/eleven eleven products and are helping promote sustainable fashion in India. Vegetable dyes and block printing also form the bedrock of their sustainable fashion initiatives. The designers ensure that their quirky ensembles and home decor pieces are dyed in colours made from barks, leaves and petals, which are then also used to hand-paint prints on the pieces.
Launched in 2015, the label KALEEKAL employs traditional Indian handlooms in ways that appeal to discerning buyers. To minimise large-scale industrial wastage and dependency on synthetic fabrics, the designer eventually switched to natural fabrics like organic cotton, silk, wool, and line. This has resulted in the lesser use of pesticides and chemicals on the soil, and also reduced the number of natural resources consumed.
Sustainability, craftsmanship and a nomadic disposition are the three pillars of La Fuori. Founded by Vidur Adlakha from India and Riccardo Benedini from Italy, the brand aims to bridge cultural diversity with collections inspired by travel. For the label, the idea isn’t simply to create beautiful clothes but to give back to the artisans (10% of their profits go directly to the weavers apart from the salaries). Completely handmade, the label uses organic fibers, reusable packaging and sustainable manufacturing practices that help reduce water and environmental pollution. As we align ourselves to their clean practices, it’s the beautiful colours, refined silhouettes and hand-embellished pieces that has us marveling.
With Bhu:sattva, Jainam Kumarpal, the founder, is heading a silent revolution in India. With its 100 percent organic cotton made in Gujarat, the label is wholly about sustainable fashion. Besides this, the brand is also expanding its research and development and trying to blend fabrics made from banana, bamboo, and even soyabean fibres with silk, khadi, and cotton.
Shivan Punja, the founder of Behno, has ensured that his label takes the cause of improved working conditions and safety at the workplace for craftsmen further. The brand closely works with MSA Ethos, a Gujarat-based garment factory specialising in knits and woven ready-to-wear. From providing health care, education, fair wages and elimination of child labour to giving its workers accessibility to free family planning education, Behno is doing it all to promote sustainable fashion in India.
Neumann’s global experience as a humanitarian aid worker took her around the world. Born and raised in Australia, she was always intrigued by colourful textiles and embroideries. Her work allowed to her gain some first-hand experience in understanding the craft involved in creating beautiful ethnic pieces. In 2010 she finally launched her label in New Delhi. Since then, she has worked with a number of NGOs and women’s cooperatives recognising vulnerable groups and collaborating with them to create pieces. She also ensures that there are no mediators involved and workers are given their fair share of remuneration, making it one of the most dynamic sustainable fashion brands in India worth noticing.
It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.