Manufacturing, energy, transportation, and even food production may come to mind as industries that have a negative impact on the environment. However, the fashion business is commonly regarded as the world's second most polluting industry. Every year, a mountain of clothing is discarded as a result of fast fashion, and this has a tremendous environmental impact. According to the UN, some 93 billion cubic metres of water (that's enough to meet the needs of five million people) is used by the fashion industry annually, and around half a million tons of microfibre, which is the equivalent of 3 million barrels of oil, is now being dumped into the ocean every year. Some labels are showing how fashion can be sustainable. These indie brands celebrate ethically and sustainably made clothing. Here are some of our favourites.
This ethical and sustainable streetwear brand based out of Ranchi makes unique bomber jackets, pants, tunics, bandanas, and more. They work with the Mehars, a traditional community of weavers who live in Simdega district of Jharkhand. Johargram aims to popularise the traditional textiles of the state using handwoven textiles and traditional patterns and colours like deep red (which stands for sacrifice) and white (which stands for peace). The brand name is the combination of the word johar (namaste) and gram (village).
Giving life to old clothes is what ethical designer Meghna Nayak specialises in. A trained journalist, she gave up her 9-5 job to start LataSita, a zero-waste, closed-loop supply chain, where she upcycles old clothes into bespoke fashion wear. "As not just a lover of textiles and clothing, but also a sustainable designer, I often find myself at odds with the concept of shopping," she says. "For the past decade, I have immersed myself in creating clothing from old, discarded, leftover, or &lsquowaste&rsquo fabric, mostly old sarees that have been lying untouched in wardrobes for decades." LataSita supports the circular economy by using everything old and off-grid. They source fabric from different and often unexpected sources, ranging from treasured private ancestral collections to daily women's wardrobes and even a Durga Puja pandal. Most of their collection is made from vintage sarees, with each piece meticulously crafted at LataSita's Kolkata studio. Read the Outlook Traveller interview with Meghna about her city here.
This Kutch crafts collective makes exquisite hand-embroidered and patchwork products using only natural fibres and wherever possible natural dyes. The product range includes exquisite garments and accessories. You can pick up salwar-kameez sets (tunic and pant suits), shawls and scarves, patchwork quilts, toys, purses, and gifts. They are particularly known for a range of stunning embroidered jackets. Kala Raksha sources all raw materials from other artisan groups, and the handloom fabric is dyed locally with natural dyes brewed from roots, flowers, leaves and fruits and hand embroidered by women artisans. The embroidery and patchwork motifs draw on the rich traditions of the artisans' indigenous styles. Many of their designs are passed down generations. Some designs are revivals based on their permanent collection, and others are contemporary innovations.
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