This section on Ethical Fashion is made possible with the support of Bhu:Sattva
No Nasties is an Indian brand of 100% organic and fairtrade clothing for men and women, which describes its mission as “We do good. Organic – for the planet, fair trade – for the farmers, awesomeness – for you.”
Speaking to No Nasties founder Apurva Kothari yields that there is more to the brand than meets the eye. Behind the brand’s super soft organic cotton wear is a whole lot of attention to safe, eco-friendly processes and fair labour practices. Right from handpicking and processing organic cotton to building fair trade communities No Nasties takes the business of spreading the message of ethical fashion very seriously.
Making eco-fashion the go-to choice
Kothari started No Nasties to give Indian consumers an alternative fashion choice and to garner consumer support for the hitherto grassroots organic and fairtrade movements in the country.
“The spate of farmers’ suicide in the cotton belt 10 years really bothered me and spurred me to understand how India’s acceptance of GMOs was closely related to the suicides”, he says. A conventional cotton farm not only uses genetically modified seeds that require extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers but they also put the cotton farmers in heavy debt with their high interest loans. The result – farmers, seeing no way out commit suicide – one every 30 minutes. Bothered by the thought, Kothari examined the organic and fairtrade initiatives in the country and found that they provided viable solutions to the problems of the cotton growers. “Organic and fairtrade means no genetically modified seeds, no synthetic pesticides or fertilisers, no child labour, no price exploitation, no suicides!” he says. But, he also discovered that movements for organic and fairtrade fashion were designed primarily for export and received almost no support from Indian customers.
He started No Nasties in 2010 with a focus not merely on being another fashion but to stand out as makers of affordable ethical fashion that would become part of people’s everyday wardrobes. “The idea is to look good and feel good while also doing good”, says Kothari of their philosophy.
From safe clothing to fashion brand
No Nasties garments are grown from organic seeds and produced on fair trade farms where synthetic pesticides, GMOs, and artificial dyes have no room. They are processed at factories governed by sustainability norms. Their debut clothing line included a full range of organic, natural dyed, GOTS certified t-shirts in different visual styles which was achieved by closely working with designers. Establishing an online presence and retailing in boutiques across the country helped the brand spread word of its products and work. Today, Kothari’s team actively helps other brands looking to make the switch to organic fashion. “All information across our supply chains is freely available on our website and we are glad to connect others with the stakeholders we work with”, he says.
From t-shirts, No Nasties is slowly transitioning to fashion wear. Its latest collection has colour block dresses and contrast pocket tees all designed using organic cotton.
Sparking a consumer movement around ethical fashion
“The idea for a consumer movement is to create a snowball effect. We want consumers to demand more sustainable fashion so that it becomes viable for farmers to adopt organic farming,” says Kothari. realising that it is not a one-person fight, the brand joins hands with other national and international ethical brands and organisations working for social and environmental change, No Nasties is at the forefront of a movement that seeks to create awareness of the problems associated with fast fashion in a constructive manner. The brand was also the first Indian members of Fashion Revolution – the global movement for transparency in fashion. They are also the founding members of the Green People of India – an initiative to promotes sustainable development in India. Today over 35 brands have come forward in this journey towards ethical fashion. “At our core is the need to help people understand the issues India’s farming sector is facing and to help transform its fashion industry”, he explains.
Giving India’s fashion industry a silver lining
Kothari’s efforts to improve the lot of farmers in Maharashtra did not end with the launch of No Nasties. The brand, in collaboration with partners Pearson College, London, Pave, and Chetana Vikas, a rural NGO introduced the Cotton Sense Project. The social development effort is designed to address the crisis by creating alternative sources of income for women of the cotton farming community while creating a recognisable symbol that helps raise awareness of the agrarian crisis.
The project trains women to be able to supplement their agricultural income in their free time. They are taught to upcycle fabric waste from garment factories by sewing it into cloud shapes with shimmery borders that are then used as fashion accessories or to embellish garments and bags. “Clouds are symbolic of a farmer’s life – signalling life, success, death, hope, and freedom”, says Kothari.
Like its project, No Nasties, with its commitment to making the movement for ethical fashion a mass one, is the silver lining the polluting fashion industry of today needs.
All images courtesy No Nasties.
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