This section on Ethical Fashion is made possible with the support of Bhu:Sattva
When Bhu:sattva was launched in 2009 as India’s first brand of organic designer apparel, it occupied a niche segment. It also faced all the challenges of a market where the growth was slow and skepticism was high. Since then, the brand, now in about 40 Indian cities, has been seeing growing domestic and international presence.
Born into a family with a rich textile history, for Bhu:sattva CEO Jainam Kumarpal, the decision to enter the organic clothing sector was pretty much a foregone one. “The gradual closure of Ahmedabad’s textile mills cemented my resolve to do something outside the mundane conventional garments sector”, he says. When he began laying the groundwork for Bhu:sattva, organic designer wear and the use of natural-dyes in luxury clothing were absent from the Indian fashion scene. Seeing an opportunity to cater to a promising but thus far neglected audience, he launched Bhu:sattva at the Fashion Week in Mumbai. The brand stands apart with its focus on blending luxury designer wear with organic ingredients, sustainable processes, and traditional crafts.
It’s all about the journey
Says Jainam, “At Bhu:sattva, clothes are not just designed and manufactured, they undergo a process of creation, hence care is taken to ensure that processes are fair and sustainable and create value for everyone involved in them.”
In order to create products that are truly natural, Bhu:sattva works with organic farmers to procure the best organic fibres. “We work with farmer groups and NGOs across India, forging long-term, mutually beneficial relationships”, he explains. These alliances guarantee Bhu:sattva continuous supply of raw materials while it provides farmers a regular, guaranteed source of business. Similarly, the brand is dedicated to improving the lives and livelihoods of traditional artisan communities, tying up with design institutes to upskill artisans, enabling them to meet the needs of contemporary markets, and reviving disappearing art forms. “At its core, Bhu:sattva is about empowering and not merely employing the people we work with”, says Jainam. The brand has adopted traditional techniques like phulkari of Punjab, the Kashmiri kasuti, and the phad paintings of Gujarat and Rajasthan, giving them all a place on their garments and ensuring that each one is truly a piece of art.
Wholly sustainable products
The brand’s philosophy of ‘responsible luxury’ extends beyond the fibre of its garments. It makes use of chemical-free, herbal dyes, and cruelty-free organic silk. Besides, considerable attention is given to R&D that tests the feasibility and aesthetic value of unconventional natural materials like bamboo, banana, soya, milk, and pina fibres whose merit as sustainable alternatives to resource-intensive fibres like cotton have been established by the global fashion industry. Bhu:sattva has successfully pioneered lines that exclusively use alternative fibres as well as those that use them in blends of silk and cotton.
The future of organic fashion in India is bright
“All creators of organic and sustainable fashion work within huge constraints and a lot of the work that goes on backstage remains invisible to consumers”, says Jainam of the relatively slow pace at which the organic fashion segment has been growing in India. The choice of fabrics, colours, and other resources available to manufacturers of sustainable fashion is small. So, at Bhu:sattva, a huge effort goes into design, construction, and handcrafted artistry of superior quality that showcase the quality and value of the products in a very perceptible way.
“Today, the market for organic fashion in India is small. But, as consumer awareness about fibres and dyes increases and as health concerns and environmental consciousness rise, they will pay more attention to purchasing clothing that is made using safe ingredients and fair processes”, says Jainam. He envisions a future where organic clothing replaces fast fashion and becomes part of conventional, mainstream, contemporary fashion and a part of one’s daily lifestyle.
All images courtesy Bhu:sattva.
The Sustainable Fashion Hub is a series that examines shifts in the the global fashion industry to more sustainable and ethical practices and processes, with a special focus on India. It explores what goes into creating a just and sustainable fashion value chain – from the creation of garments and lifestyle accessories to making them available to consumers. All content on the hub is produced with 100% editorial independence by The Alternative.
The Hub is supported by , India’s first certified organic designer apparel brand. With products that are directly sourced from organic cotton farmers at fair trade terms. Bhu:Sattva® uses natural colours, vegetable and herb dyes and goes further to work on reviving various forms of traditional weaving and handloom. Information on its products and processes can be found at http://www.bhusattva.com