Sustainabl­e In­dian brands that you should own

India Today - - CONTENTS - By ADITI PAI

Old is new in the world of fashion as designers and new-age brands are dig­ging into waste to turn it into trendy pieces. If fish scales and scraps of fab­ric are be­ing fash­ioned into ex­otic clutches and coats, non-pol­lut­ing farm­ing meth­ods are giv­ing peo­ple eco-sen­si­tive and de­signer wear. At these work­shops, sus­tain­abil­ity is key as dresses, sa­rees, jump­suits and bags crafted from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als find a place of pride in de­sign col­lec­tions.


Kriti Tula spots a de­sign idea in ev­ery piece of scrap fab­ric. She re-de­signs, re-con­structs and re­cy­cles in­dus­trial waste fab­rics at her Delhi work­shop to turn them into smart dresses, jump­suits, shirts, bags and clutches. Af­ter sev­eral con­ver­sa­tions on cir­cu­lar fashion where ev­ery piece of leftover fab­ric goes back into a new cre­ation, Tula, an ap­parel de­signer and an alum­nus of Lon­don School of De­sign, joined hands with Paras Arora and Vaib­hav Kapoor to start Dood­lage in 2012. The idea was sim­ple—a holis­tic sustainabl­e fashion brand that works on a zero-waste pol­icy. Dood­lage col­lects post cut­ting scraps,

de­fected ma­te­ri­als and end-of-the-line fab­rics from pro­duc­tion units around Delhi. Some brands even do­nate fab­rics to them. Once fab­ric pieces ar­rive at the Dood­lage work­shop in Delhi, they fix de­fects in ma­te­rial lengths with pan­elled fab­rics to cre­ate sev­eral limited col­lec­tions. Their own waste is seg­re­gated into light and dark colour stories and while the darker colours go into mak­ing home prod­ucts and bags, the lighter scraps are sent out to make paper that is used for the brand’s price tags. Dood­lage prod­ucts are even sold in starch bags in­stead of plas­tic or re­cy­cled paper. “Mind­ful pro­duc­tion, and not just in fashion, is the nec­es­sary next step,” says Tula. Price From `4500

House of Wan­der­ing Silk

At the House of Wan­der­ing Silk no scrap of cloth ever goes into trash. Ev­ery scarf, robe and jacket is a zero-waste ini­tia­tive made by reusing waste fab­rics that a fashion line gen­er­ates. The sig­na­ture col­lec­tion has kan­tha scarves and robes that are fash­ioned out of up­cy­cled silk saris, the leftover scraps are turned into sari bead neck­laces and at the very end of the line, the smallest bits of silk sari scrap are de­signed into bags and pouches. “We col­lect ev­ery last cut­ting and scrap fab­ric from our stitch­ing unit, and these are up­cy­cled through patch­ing, quilt­ing and weav­ing into new prod­ucts. This en­sures that our en­tire pro­duc­tion chain is zero waste,” says the Syd­ney-born Neu­mann, who worked for a decade as a hu­man­i­tar­ian aid worker around the world be­fore set­ting up the House of Wan­der­ing Silk in 2011 as a fair trade busi­ness. A solo travel down the Silk Route from Pak­istan to Ti­bet in 2007 prompted her to start a fair trade busi­ness. “The fashion in­dus­try is one of the most pol­lut­ing and ex­ploita­tive in­dus­tries world­wide, and af­fects all of us. But the term is now very widely used by fashion brands, with­out trans­parency or ac­count­abil­ity to back up their claims,” says Neu­mann. Price: Up to `20000


At Ethi­cus, Vi­jay­alak­shmi Nachiar and Mani Chin­naswamy want ev­ery sari to tell the story of its eth­i­cal and sustainabl­e ori­gins. So each hand crafted piece comes with a tag that talks of the or­ganic cot­ton grow­ers, designers, crafts­men, weavers and the time taken to craft the sari. The cot­ton goes through over a hun­dred hands be­fore the final prod­uct is made so when a cus­tomer knows who has made it, the prod­uct gets a soul,” says Nachiar. Ethi­cus’ par­ent com­pany, Ap­pachi Eco-Logic Cot­ton, pi­o­neered In­dia’s first cot­ton con­tract farm­ing model and today grows among the finest or­ganic cot­ton in the coun­try. The cot­ton is or­gan­i­cally cul­ti­vated, processed and dyed fol­low­ing global or­ganic tex­tile prac­tices that re­duce pol­lu­tants, mak­ing it sustainabl­e for the grow­ers, weavers, cus­tomers and the en­vi­ron­ment. It also lends a soft tex­ture and lus­tre to the saris that cel­e­brate In­dia’s rich weav­ing and craft her­itage. The cou­ple used their years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the cot­ton busi­ness to launch Ethi­cus which stands for ‘ethics and us’ and de­notes the eth­i­cal prac­tices fol­lowed by the brand. The colours are in­spired by the lo­cal pal­ette sur­round­ing their sprawl­ing farms—the dense for­est cover, the blues of the river, grey of the ele­phants and red of the lo­cal ragi crop. To go be­yond lo­cal weavers and bring in craft tra­di­tions from across the coun­try, Ethi­cus’ Made by Hand Col­lec­tion has ajrakh, chikankari and kalamkari saris

made by artisans from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. Lo­cal crafts, flora and fauna find a spe­cial place in Ethi­cus de­signs. With a clien­tele that in­cludes lead­ing politi­cians, the brand strives to bring the hum­ble cot­ton back into board­rooms, social events and cel­e­bra­tions. Price: `8,000-1 lakh


Mayura Davda Shah wanted to cre­ate fashion with “min­i­mum neg­a­tive im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment”. So, in­stead of scout­ing for ex­otic leathers of en­dan­gered an­i­mals, she de­cided to make bags, wal­lets with fish skin leather, a by-prod­uct of the fish pro­cess­ing in­dus­try in Ice­land and Ger­many. She had first come across salmon skin bags dur­ing a trip to Ice­land in 2015 where she trav­elled to tan­ner­ies to un­der­stand the process and worked with a sci­en­tist to treat the abun­dantly avail­able fish skins into leather. The work­ing con­di­tions and pol­lut­ing prac­tices of the leather in­dus­try in In­dia led her de­ci­sion to source ready leather and only craft the bags here. “We wanted to source the ma­te­rial from those who make it re­spon­si­bly while de­liv­er­ing high qual­ity and com­ply­ing with reg­u­la­tions,” she says. Shah launched Mayu in 2019, a word which, she says, means gen­tle­ness and su­pe­ri­or­ity in Ja­panese. Mayu bags use leather from Ice­land and Ger­many which is made from up­cy­cled fish skins of North­ern At­lantic salmon and wolfish which are by-prod­ucts of the fish pro­cess­ing units. The hot wa­ter for tan­ning comes from geo­ther­mal plants in Ice­land which makes the process more sustainabl­e, nat­u­ral vegetable dyes are used in tan­ning and no aquatic an­i­mals are fished specif­i­cally for leather, thereby mak­ing it cru­elty-free. In Chen­nai, Shah gets the bags hand­crafted at a zero-waste work­shop which em­ploys women from un­der­priv­i­leged back­grounds. The de­but col­lec­tion was named af­ter Ice­land’s scenic coast, The Golden Circle and featured sling bags, wal­lets and clutches which are avail­able on­line and at se­lect stores in Lon­don, New York, Bu­dapest, Mum­bai and Pune. Price Sling bags start at `35,000

HOLIS­TIC FASHION Kriti Tula’s brand Dood­lage is about mind­ful pro­duc­tion

NO­MADIC THREADS Kather­ine Neu­mann, founder of the House of Wan­der­ing Silk (above); Neck­laces by the brand crafted from scraps of waste cloth (be­low)

STORY OF A FAB­RIC The DNA of Ethi­cus lies in the stories of its weavers

WASTE NOT Mayura Davda Shah makes bags out of up­cy­cled fish skin

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