India’s apparel market is expected to cross $59 billion in 2022…(you read that right!), thus making it the sixth-largest in the world. The country is also the world’s second largest garment manufacturer, employing over 45 million people. With these big numbers, it is only natural for everyone to start questioning the environmental impact of India’s fashion trade.
Almost one million tonnes of textile is being discarded in India annually, and the industry is also one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters. Suffice to say, there is a growing sense of environmental responsibility and a sustainable fashion movement, steering people towards making planet-friendly choices.
A nation as big as India with numerous states, each having their own form of traditional craft and each one more unique than the other, is prone to other issues than just waste pollution. With so many traditional crafts at one’s disposal, several fashion businesses—local and international—commision their work to Indian artisans. This leaves them vulnerable to appropriation and duplication of intricate handmade designs into mass-marketed digital prints, hence stealing directly from the pockets of hard working artisans. In Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness”.The Indian government has since prohibited the use of plastic bags, straws and products across numerous states. With increasing discussions around global warming and campaigns against waste pollution, the textile industry in India is taking measures to shift towards eco-friendly and sustainable garment production.
Did you know that the Shein app is also banned in India? Although this is in the interest of the country’s sovereignty and security of the state, this is a blessing in disguise for local small businesses. Setting up a sustainable and ethical brand in the second most populous nation, with a sizeable number of fashion businesses can prove to be highly competitive—ensuring high standards of regulation in processes from production to sales.
We have curated an exhaustive and growing list of fashion brands from India, prioritising holistic sustainable and ethical production.
Sustainable indian fashion brands you should know
Sui, translated ‘needle‘ in Hindi, is a label founded in New Delhi, India. Championing both original prints and the use of natural or indigenous fabrics, their collections evidently bridge the gap between nature & fashion. Unlike fast-fashion, the brand doesn’t rush production and creates designs on a made to order basis.
This environmentally friendly Indian brand works with traditional craft like embroidery, block printing and handmade organic cotton—all hand made, respecting nature and the people who craft the clothing. True to their belief, conscious fashion can be engaging, beautiful and impactful.
The Summer House
Aiming to bridge the gap between age old craftsmanship and modern wardrobes, The Summer House collections are made better by choosing to say no to the easy way of sourcing materials.
Made with traditional craft techniques and textiles, The Summer House designs prioritise quality and comfort above all. All fabrics come from an environment that does not abuse the earth and made in their own production studio. The brand directly works with craftsmen and NGOs to ensure they benefit instead of middlemen.
A blend of sustainable and exclusive high street fashion, Doodlage upcycles factory waste into small limited edition designer collections. Every piece has its own identity, since it varies in cut, fabric and colour. This ensures that no two garments are the same, therefore promoting individuality.
Doodlage combines recycled post-consumer waste and post-cutting scraps to create new fabrics for long-lasting timeless garments. Production leftovers become separated and converted into accessories, soft furnishing products, and paper for design packaging. This eco-conscious fashion brand uses ethical production methods to deliver pieces in plastic-free packaging.
At Rengé, you can tailor the pieces to fit your measurements. Each collection includes limited pieces, made from the finest surplus fabrics from warehouses to reduce carbon footprint. For fabrics that need processing, Rengé works with factories that follow the strictest social and environmental standards.
The people behind the scenes are the heart and soul of Rengé. With the belief that the place one spends most of their time each day should be more than a workspace, the brand gives opportunities to anyone with a vision to create and hone their existing skill sets. Paying above minimum wage alone isn’t enough.
The founders’ yearning for products that are designed to last and not trend-driven, inspired the birth of Nicobar. The brand’s products align with their values and aim to create a line that champions easy, effortless style; long-lasting clothing and homeware that’s with you for life.
Nicobar consciously chooses to only make smaller drops and use responsible materials. Any leftover fabric—the little bits that remain after the production of a collection—is then cut, dyed, sewn and repurposed for their kidswear line, Little Nico.
Goados hopes to revive and sustain indigenous techniques, arts and crafts in a contemporary aesthetic while providing consumers with high-quality products. Their objective in protecting these ancient trades helps to support the craftspeople to continue practising these age-old techniques.
This conscious fashion label stitches and dyes each piece of cloth for a sustainable and luxurious finish. By embracing slow fashion the label encourages you to ultimately invest in the ecosystem that sustains and nourishes you.
Jodi was born out of a shared love for craft, culture, fashion and travel. The label works with 100% natural Indian textiles, beautified with the artisanal process of block printing. Thus giving new life to local craft techniques and making each creation distinctive and charming.
Jodi’s capsule collections bring you unique designs, with a splash of colour and a strong emphasis on prints with a story behind.
Hand block printing is a traditional process that has been used in Rajasthan for about 500 years. The label’s main focus is to preserve this age-old tradition while producing fashion forward and affordable designer wear.
Taro is a Rajasthani loom mad, creative lifestyle brand based in Jaipur. Meaning star in Marwari, Taro’s goal is to be the brightest light in ethical design and make ethnic, Indian wear more ethical without compromising on morals.
The founder, Aarushi Kilawat, took initiative towards improving the shopping experience for the visually impaired by creating Braille Tags for garments in 2013 and incorporated these tags in Taro’s special edition clothing line.
Planet Positive Clothing is all No Nasties is about. For over a decade, the label has made 100% organic cotton classics…but made better. Every product bought from No Nasties, removes more CO2 from the air than it creates during its life cycle.
From reducing carbon footprint, and neutralising it to making the process planet positive by planting 3 trees for every design purchase, the brand ensures sustainability and more. All the data and details of their projects, along with the tree planting initiative are presently shared transparently and in real time. Take a look for yourself.
A regenerative fashion initiative, Oshadi has mindfully built a supply chain from sowing the seed to sewing the final product in rural India. Oshadi produces its collection in the villages surrounding its farms thus ensuring ethical and fair practices in its production stages. The brand co-creates with local artisans and farmers to support a circular economy—a self-sufficient system that ensures fair income distribution and working conditions.
Through a sustainable supply chain, they are significantly re-imagining the fashion and textile industries. Oshadi created an open-source system to inspire designers and brands to think about giving back more than they take.
The Terra Tribe designs contemporary clothing for people who are mindful of their impact on earth. It is a manifestation of living more sustainably with the brand’s belief deeply rooted in transparency, good working conditions, impeccable quality and a circular ecosystem, embracing slow fashion at every step.
Terra Tribe designs its products using 100% locally manufactured Tencel, produced from responsibly sourced wood pulp using minimal non-renewable resources. Tencel has only a 5% water footprint compared to traditional cotton. Terra’s colours are a result of plant based dyes, like Indian madder vines, natural indigo, iron vinegar and leaves.