Sustainable Clothing: fast fashion and ethical fashion brands


fast fashion; noun: inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. (Oxford definition)

Large corporates which mass manufacture cheap clothes to abide by the latest fashion trends feed the idea that your wardrobe needs to be updated every week. This notion is harming the planet as heaps of waste is generated due to discarded clothes to make space for new ones. Fashion designers who propagate the idea of weekly fashion updates further encourage this phenomenon which results in hoarding, exploitation of labor and waste generation. Most of the fabric waste is currently not recycled in India, so it is upto us to slow down fast fashion to prevent landfill and waste choking. In this article, we will discuss ethical fashion and how we can be more sustainable in our clothing choices. Let’s go!

New is not always better!

The urge to buy new clothes for every occasion is not doing any good for our planet. Instead, taking care of pieces we already own and styling them in different ways could go a long way in supporting a more sustainable and inexpensive lifestyle. Take care to buy items which you really, actually, honestly need instead of succumbing to a new fashion trend every week. This will not only make your wardrobe more environment friendly but also save you from spending on trends with low shelf lives. What’s more, trends usually repeat themselves, so it isn’t wise to discard used items for new ones. Think long term and value pieces you already own!

PC. Levi’s

Should I, shouldn’t I?

Impulsive shopping usually leads to a large number of items in one’s closet which cannot be coordinated with anything else. Seeing a fashion influencer wearing coats and blazers over everything and purchasing one to imitate that look isn’t in your best interest. There, I said it. The hack I like to use is studying my wardrobe closely before going clothes shopping. You could also take pictures of stuff you already own. This serves as an indicator of intelligent buys instead of a good looking shirt which you can’t pair with anything you have which forces you to buy more to make the first purchase useful. Treat dress shopping as grocery shopping and make a list. Prompt yourself the should I, shouldn’t I question based on the wardrobe you have instead of how good the item looks on you.

PC. FabIndia
PC. GoodEarth

Quality and durability over price

I know this sounds too hard to follow, but in the long run this approach would actually save you more money. Buying cheap low quality items guarantee a very low shelf life and also make you look less groomed. Moreover, we’ve got to remember that extremely low priced items mean that people who make them are probably not receiving due credit / wage. Consuming fast fashion allows larger corporates to exploit labors and lets capitalism thrive. We all appreciate a good deal and not everyone can buy very expensive items. However, we can make ourselves aware of more ethical brands, promote and support them. You could also buy from local designers and boutiques to avail fair prices and unique pieces.

Ethical fashion brands

Here are some ethical fashion brands you can consider next time you go dress shopping!

  • PATAGONIA: One of the pioneers of the sustainable clothing initiatives, Patagonia – a fashion label based in the USA. Pieces in the store are made of eco-friendly sustainable materials. They remain big advocates of fair trade practices, workers’ rights and waste reduction in garment construction. Customers can avail beautiful items for men, women and children at reasonable prices as well as return old items to secure discounts for future purchases. The long shelf life and natural fabrics allow for second hand use and easy repairs as well.
  • LEVI’S: The name synonymous with denims and jeans is also inclined to making the planet a better place. Of course, Levi’s is a large corporation, but it is important to include it in this list as it is one of the most popular, far reaching and easily accessible brands of all time. We all are aware of the amazing quality, finish and style of their products and the extremely fair price range at which they are available. Opt for Levi’s again, if you are looking for recyclable denim, reduced water consumption and fairly sourced material. Durability and long shelf life also make Levi’s products sustainable!
  • GOOD EARTH: With stores across India and a fine legacy of more than 20 years, Good Earth is Anita Lal (and now Simran Lal’s) initiative to make traditional Indian crafts more approachable and popular. The brand identifies with local crafts and motifs to provide sustainable luxury. They have a collection of clothes, homeware, furniture, crockery and soft furnishings. A wide range of products which are environment conscious, promote local arts and workers as well as bring forth India’s rich imagery through popular items. Their range is affordable and unique and made with sustainable materials like clay, organic cotton and wood. Simran Lal is also co-owner of Nicobar – a sustainable fashion brand which provides organic, recyclable clothing with contemporary Indian patterns.
  • B LABEL: The Mumbai based B-label originates from the Bombay Hemp Company. They have experimented with hemp – a fiber derived from Cannabis to create a sustainable clothing line which is recyclable, cheap and organically sourced. Hemp, which is a very useful by product of Cannabis can be used to make paper and fiber. It is extremely durable, long lasting, repels UV rays, resists mold and is actually carbon negative! You can purchase a range of apparel from B label’s online store and check out their revolutionary ideas.
  • Miscellaneous: Other easily available, affordable and sustainable fashion brands in India are FabIndia, Anokhi, No Nasties, Doodlage etc. These brands offer products made of natural materials, adopt fair trade and workers’ rights policies and describe the origin and production of their items with complete transparency.
PC. Doodlage & Vogue
PC. No Nasties

Everyone is accountable

Sustainability is not an option anymore – it is a must practice. Conscious decisions when it comes to brands you support, eco friendly practices and sustainable choices are the need of the hour. Indian households usually practice these principles of re-using clothes, second hand or vintage buys, donating old clothes and so on. The new generation must retain these practices as well as develop more awareness of ethical brands and fashion choices. Never underestimate your contribution to the well being of this planet.

Aspiring fashion designers need to acknowledge and spread the word of sustainable fashion. We must denounce fast fashion and brands which propagate unhealthy trade and labor practices. At Cindrebay, the Fashion Design and Apparel Merchandising course emphasizes local sustainable design practices. Cindrebay also offers The BSc in Costume Design and Fashion as well as Diploma in Fashion Designing and Boutique Management. The next generation of fashion designers forged at Cindrebay are made aware of their responsibility towards sustainability and climate consciousness. To find out more about the design courses offered at Cindrebay, visit our page. Let us know if you love our work and which other ethical brands you love in the comments!


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