A recent conversation with Anjana, a friend, who is a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, about fast fashion brands, and how they are taking on sustainable fashion, was an eye-opener for me.
“The latest trend in the fast fashion industry is to take on sustainable fabrics and upcycle their existing line of clothes. The major problem here is, while the industry is supposed to cut down on the resources, they are doubling it. Alongside their regular line of clothes, they’ve released an ‘eco-conscious’ line’ which is only using up more resources” she shared.
While the fast fashion industry continues to attempt to woo customers with flashy sales, there seems to be a glimmer of hope in the sustainable sector with many brands popping up to tackle this fashion crisis.
Here are four remarkable individuals who run their own sustainable brands and are opting to make their own clothes.
1. Pomogrenade—A comfortable body, mind and soul
“I think what triggered us to establish an ethically and sustainably produced clothing line, was the documentary ‘The True Cost’ directed by Andrew Morgan, which addressed the human and the environmental cost of fashion. We were so shocked with the statistics that we had to do something about it,” says Aiswarya S Kutty, who founded Pomogrenade along with her friend, Madhulikha Umapathy, in 2016.
“It was a great way for us to empower women through job opportunities and at the same time give back something to the environment,” she adds.
When asked about her wardrobe, Aishwarya says that although she had to make a few alterations to her personal style, she’s quite happy to opt for handmade and comfortable loose fitted clothes that she can wear in different ways.
Sustainable outfits are expensive because of the fabrics used and the fairness in their production, but in the long run, they are a way better investment because they last for more than 10 years.
“I come across these amazing designer clothes on social media that I want to get immediately, so I try to replicate these designs on sustainable fabrics and inculcate these into our brand,” she adds.
Today, Pomogrenade produces a fantastic range of sustainable clothing that fits all body types and has been made at their fair trade apparel production house in Bengaluru.
2. Nool by Hand—Handcrafted from the Roots
Nool by Hand was founded to encourage handloom weavers of the cluster ‘Chennimalai’ from Erode, Tamil Nadu.
Today, there are over 20 artisans who are empowered through the brand and are bringing back the forgotten weaves and prints of our culture.
“Rather than focusing just on the clothing, we like to look at the comfort of the wearer as well. We like to give our customers a completely conscious experience by informing them about the entire production process from sourcing the fabric to the looms,” says Bharathi Manoranjan, the founder.
“When it comes to my wardrobe, I only have clothes that have been made at the brand’s loom or hand me down sarees from my mother and grandmother. Knowing that the clothes you own have been ethically made is a special feeling,” she shares.
3. Rangasutra—Respect and dignity for all
For Sumita Ghose, the struggle to find capital to start her venture was heartbreakingly real.
When all the banks turned her down, she asked weavers and craftspeople to become shareholders. Over 1000 artisans invested Rs. 1000 each, providing her with a capital of Rs. 10 lakh.
To that, she added her own savings, meagre contributions from family, friends and well-wishers, and began the company on a small scale.
Today, Rangasutra employs over 3000 artisans from rural villages with a good population of them being women. It also sells a range of their handcrafted products to popular brands like FabIndia, which has been a partner and promoter of village handlooms work and traditional crafts and skills.
“Fast fashion brands have started to use terms like ‘upcycled fabric’ and ‘organic cotton’ purely for marketing purposes. At this point, it is vital as a conscious consumer to carefully read into these brand strategies,” says Ghose.
4. Kara Weaves—For the love of clothes and the people that make them
Kara Weaves founded in 2007, by a mother-daughter duo has been partnering with local weaving co-operatives in Kerala to design sustainable contemporary textiles.
Each of Kara’s products uses local fabrics that are handmade in wooden looms.
What started with the aim to bridge the gap between traditional weaving techniques and the modern lifestyle has grown to become a style statement in itself.
Indu Menon, the co-founder of Kara Weaves, believes that sustainability has started becoming restricted to an elitist crowd, and this is the biggest challenge we are facing now.
“90% of the clothes in my wardrobe are handlooms or pure cotton because I was never a person who opted for fast fashion. But that’s not the case with today’s crowd, especially the millennials. They are looking for clothes that are more affordable and available easily. In this scenario, it’s important to raise awareness among consumers and encourage slow fashion.”
If you’re looking for ways to stop fast fashion consumption and adopt more sustainable alternatives, do check out some amazing collections here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)