This section on Ethical Fashion is made possible with the support of Bhu:Sattva
Over the last 3 months, you’ve probably got your fill of eco-fashion brands and sustainable designers to keep an eye out for. However, there are some brands that are going one step further in producing clothing that is not just safe for the environment but that is also socially responsible and has a positive social impact on all the communities involved in the manufacture and sale of the garments you wear.
What is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to traditional business and trade practices. It allows businesses and consumers to invest in putting the environment and people at the centre of business, ensuring their long term sustainability and value. Contrary to conventional methods of business, Fairtrade is based on forging mutually respectful, transparent, and fair relationships with often marginalised communities involved in the fashion value chain. Fairtrade, by employing fair structures of work and pay, helps alleviate the poverty faced by these communities and facilitates the creation of a more equal, democratic system of livelihoods and trade.
What happens when you choose a Fairtrade product?
When a product, whether consumer or luxury, carries the International Fairtrade Certification Mark, it means the producers and traders have met certain environmental, labour, and developmental standards set by Fairtrade International. These guidelines are designed to redeem the imbalance of power in trading relationships, the uncertainties of unstable markets, and the injustices of conventional trade.
Here is a list of Indian fashion brands that are certified by Fairtrade India. These brands tred the path unexplored and did not give in to the ever-changing demands of the world of fast fashion, choosing instead to adopt ethical business practices and make markets work for the underprivileged.
1. No Nasties
Thousands of farmers taking their lives after using genetically modified crops moved Apurv Kothari so much that he quit his high paying job in NYC to help connect Indian consumers with the organic market. To this end, he set up a company selling organic, cotton T-shirts- No Nasties, in April 2011. The company works with designers whose designs are sent to a manufacturing unit in Kolkata, partially owned by a farmers’ association, enabling No Nasties help farmers fetch a better price for their produce.
#douspeakgreen #Organic clothing A photo posted by Do U Speak Green (@douspeakgreen) on
Founded in 2010, Do U Speak Green has created quite a few ripples in India’s eco-fashion sector, being the country’s first eco-friendly clothing brand. With its smart prints, Do U Speak Green believes in setting an example for a quest to make a cleaner, greener and healthier planet earth by contributing directly part of its sales to Environmental NGOs like Bombay Natural History Society and WWF India. All of the fabric waste is recycled and products are designed to keep negative environmental effects to a minimum.
Founded by Australian designer Frances Carrington in 1999, Eternal Creation supports Indians working in the Himalayas. It won the 2013 Source Award for Sustainable Childrens’ Wear. The brand works with Tibetan refugees and local residents to produce fresh and vibrant fashion. With profit as its secondary goal, the brand has created an environment that is both supportive and fun to work in.
Samtana is a sustainable, organic clothing company based out of Bangalore. The harbingers of this wearable art are Benny Heinkel and Bharath Madhiraju who founded the company after becoming frustrated with the lack of individuality in t-shirts. The brand strives to promote sustainability in their entire supply chain. Their cotton is sourced from Suminter India Organics and the company works with around 20,000 farmers to procure, process, and package organic products. The employees are paid a Fairtrade premium to improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions.
After a 10 year hiatus in Italy, Anjali Schiavina started Mandala Apparels in Pondicherry to bring about a positive change in the Indian fashion scene with just one vegetable dyeing unit and a handful of workers. This seemingly far-fetched initiative then evolved into a Fair Trade certified manufacturer by 2006 when Anjali decided to source only organic cotton. Today, they boast of an international presence and continue to support farmers and workers with fair wages.
Dedicated to preserving indigenous Indian art forms, Sevya has been supporting artisan communities to enhance their production and marketing capacity and preserving the disappearing handicraft production. All scarves, clothing, bags, home décor items, and jewellery are made using natural fibres and material. The revenue earned is then used to support need-based development programs throughout India, under the auspices of the All India Movement for Seva.
7. HAE NOW
HAE NOW (Humans, Animals and Environment…Now) has made sure that their products are sustainably produced with certified organic cotton. Grown using good agricultural practices such as crop-rotation, hand-farming and botanical pest control, the entire process uses non-chlorine bleach, silicon-free softeners and low impact, azo-free dyes. The packaging is minimal and the brand has managed to eliminate paper by switching to online sales tools.
8. Mata Traders
Fair Trade Month has begun! In addition to following the hashtag #FairTradeMonth to learn about fair trade, you should check our blog for updates on the very artisans who make all of our lovely clothing and jewelry pieces! We know you want to know what they’ve been up to! #fairtrade #fairtrademonth #ethicalclothing #ethicalstyle #october #artisanmade #howitsmadematters #fashionabetterworld
Mata Traders has partnered with several Fairtrade organisations in India and Nepal that train and employ hundreds of artisans in under-served communities, with a focus on gender equity and women’s empowerment. This Fairtrade certified clothing line is the brainchild of three friends who fell in love with India and her people, markets, and colourful textiles. Colourful designs, carefully handcrafted by artisans from India and Nepal, are now sold in around 50 states and 12 countries.
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