We’ve known for a long time that fashion and sustainability can go hand in hand and still look very trendy. Designer and fashion labels are looking for opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint and create clothes that are more eco-friendly. The goal is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment.

According to Earth Pledge, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting and supporting sustainable development,

“At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world’s pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment, and still two-thirds of a garment’s carbon footprint will occur after it is purchased.”

To counter the effect of this pollution, the first eco-friendly fashion lines were launched by Patagonia and ESPRIT where the cotton that was used was naturally coloured and the dyes were 80% less toxic. The wool that was used was not produced and treated artificially.

This trend of the 1980s was taken up by other brands by the early 2000s by other fashion houses in the hope of reversing the fact that the fashion industry is the second-largest cause of production. Today, multiple customers and brands are consciously choosing to buy clothes that list themselves as eco-friendly. Fashion labels that have pledged to keep the environment safe list all the products used, the location of the production and the work ethics that were involved in its labels.

Brands like Style Saint claim using 99% less water than and paying 2000% higher wages than the industry standard. Amour Vert’s cotton is certified organic, their linen comes chemical-free, and their polyester is recycled. More popular brands like HnM have a separate line for eco-friendly products called “conscious” that make their clothes with natural dyes and basic machines that have minimum carbon emission.

Eco-friendly fashion is slow in India. Brands are gradually shifting to being conscious in terms what they use as products. An Indian designer, Nandita Mahtani told News 18, “We have some of the best cotton, khadi and organic fabrics available at our disposal. The main issue is the processes tend to be very expensive. But soon enough, we should be able to find a balance and do our part.”

In India, veteran designers like Ritu Kumar, with her continued patronage of traditional weavers and Deepika Govind, with her experiments using organic denim, have set the stage for a fashion revolution, for an industry where clothing is conscious.

Manasi Uttam, an avid shopper says, “I have been eco-conscious for the past two years, and it was really difficult for me to find all my clothes like this. But there is a change, it’s becoming more accessible and easy to find. But it surely is costlier than normal clothes; despite this, I’m ready to pay the price as long as it helps the Earth.”

Indian rural woman artisan weaving khadi in chakhra.
Indian rural woman artisan weaving khadi.

‘Fabindia’ is arguably India’s first dedicated chain of retail showrooms that sells handcrafted products with organic elements. ‘Bhu:sattva’ is an organic clothing brand based in Gujarat. This brand  utilizes purely eco-friendly fibers such as hemp, organic cotton, cruelty-free silk, soya fiber, banana fiber, modal, milk protein fiber, pineapple fiber, flax, jute and others. Bhu:sattva produces “Ahimsa silk”, which is an Indian origin cruelty-free silk made from Eri and Tussar silk cocoons.

Earlier, the association of the environment and fashion signified raising funds for charitable purposes. However, now, the association of fashion and the environment has taken on a more eco-friendly tone.

Designers today are opting for the use of environment friendly methods and material for the production of entire collections. Various Indian fashion brands are becoming completely organic and sustainable. From weaving to dyeing to stitching every aspect is taken care with a consideration for the environment.

Pic credit: The Better India

Also read: Innovation from IIT Hyderabad: Eco-Friendly Sanitary Napkins

 Jagriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV