By Sanya Arora
Sanya is studying Fashion Marketing at the Pearl Academy and is interning with DOT for the summer, with a focus on fashion and garment manufacturing. Building on her interest in ethical fashion, she has written an interesting piece on niche, Indian fashion labels in the upcycling space. Great brands that need to be talked about!
How does one add value to the discarded lot? How about using the same which was lost?
Low-cost clothing inspired by high-cost luxury trends has created a mass industry of “fast fashion”. The fast fashion industry is booming where billions of new designs are created and accepted worldwide, which further generates employment opportunity for huge number of skilled and unskilled workers in the Indian textile industry. While the outer face of the industry is all glammed up with stylish products, the internal space needs much consideration and support. The concept of ‘fast fashion’ relies on the model in which clothes only last for a short period of time and are easily replaceable. The result is a wave of over-consumption and over-dumping at a mass level. However there is good news in the form of a new trend for creating an environment of zero waste - the upswing of ‘upcycling’ in fashion industry.
People usually tend to blur the meaning of the two terms ‘upcycling’ and ‘recycling’ but there exists a contrasting difference between the two. Recycling involves breaking down of the product (usually plastic, glass, paper etc.) into raw material form, so that it can be made into a new product. Whereas upcycling is a process in which product is reconstructed or redesigned to make another product. It reduces waste as pre-industrial, pre-consumer and post-consumer waste is not thrown away but simply reworked into a new product. Upcycling is no new concept, it has been a part of our Indian culture since 1930’s and 40’s when our families used to reuse almost everything - but now the old is new again, with some improvements.
Making something new and artistic with something you once believed is useless is true art. A lot of young designers have taken up this trend. Here are some start-up fashion labels that are not only committed to upcycling but are also trying to change the consumer mindset with their ethical and sustainable initiatives, contributing towards making a more environmentally and socially viable world.
Delhi-based fashion clothing brand, Doodlage is strongly dedicated to an ethical idea of upcycling and recycling. They focus on using the untouched, not worn or barely worn clothing of your wardrobes and turning them into nice and trendy upcycled or recycled clothing. They work on recycling, reconstructing and redesigning old vintage collections with added trims and prints. Every garment is unique in its own way, using sustainable fabrics and different cuts and colours.
Jaipur-based brand, Mehera Shaw is an affordable, upcycled and artisanal lifestyle brand producing a number of product categories for environmentally conscious women. Their upcycling project takes into use post-consumer waste like scraps, fabrics, trims and threads to create value-added accessories. Their vision is built on using low impact fabric, fair labor garment production and educating customers about the concept.
Mumbai-based brand, Ka-Sha by Karishma Shahani Khan, strongly focuses on an ethical waste policy for creating her collection. One thing which grabs the intention of many people is her unique way of designing, where everyday textile (cotton or linen) is mixed with a beautiful Indian craft - be it a different dye or an unusual modern silhouette. Her collection has got reasonable attention in many international and domestic publications.
Conserve by Shalabh and Anita Ahuja
Conserve is a great initiative based in Bahadurgarh, Haryana. It was founded by Shalabh and Anita with a focus on using waste in the production of new products. They upcyle plastic bags and reinvent them as fashion accessories. They are socially and environmentally responsible as they employ ragpickers to collect and manage waste, which they refashion into daily lifestyle products. The profit which they make is also spent on social welfare projects.
Delhi-based designer Aneeth Arora’s label, Péro, makes one- of- a- kind products by adding Indian-ness to its entire garment. Péro uses its unique skill of being sustainable for creating upcycled/recycled wearable garments from reusable fabrics. The inspiration is taken from the local people who are stylish and trendy without any effort and hence each product by this label evokes some sense of culture from where it originates.
House of Wandering Silk
Delhi-based social enterprise, House of Wandering Silk works with cooperatives, NGOs and women artisans across Asia to create beautifully designed clothes, accessories and home décor. The label has setup a distinct image for itself by using old saris and reusing them by turning into scarves, shrugs and neckpieces. Each product under this label has a unique story to tell which makes the customer want their ethical products.
Eco wings, founded five years ago, is playful, stylish and India’s finest brand providing upcycled accessories. They are making conscious efforts by adopting each and every possible way to reduce their carbon footprint and protect the environment. They have fashionable and trendy products made out of truck and bike tire tubes, marble slurry, waste cotton cloth, and tin etc.
Jaggery is an independent designer brand that uses industrial waste for making ethical, green products. The brand uses seatbelts and tarpaulins for making bags and other accessories. Along with this, as a part of their social responsibility project ‘oneBagoneTree’, they plant one tree for each purchase made from their website. The brand takes pride in helping reforest the world and hence protecting the environment.