Sustainable fashion in India: saving the planet

Dec 29th, 2020 | by  Devyani Parashar


Oscar Wilde quoted 

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to change it every six months

and we have been doing the same! Buying into the ever-changing trends, hopping from one aesthetic to another and getting ourselves sucked into the enchanting world of fashion! Did I sound like another anti-fashion, pseudo woke angry Twitter user who is blurting out of rage in my daily Twitter threads? I was afraid it would be like that. But the reality is, most of the clothes that you bought from your favorite fast-fashion brand on the last retail therapy session will ultimately find themselves in a landfill. As it turns out, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s annual carbon emissions – 5 times that of flying! It’s also one of the most polluting, water-intensive and waste-generating industries. So what can we do? Great that you asked! 

In the age of shrinking living spaces and increasing size of wardrobes, when everywhere you look, there is a newer and shinier piece of clothing for you to own, sustainable fashion is the boat that could help us sail through the landfills filled with fast-fashion clothing and polluted water bodies.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

According to the Oxford dictionary, 'Sustainable' means 'involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment'. And 'Sustainable Fashion' in turn implies to fashion (i.e. textile, beauty products such as makeup, etc) products which are made sustainably, preserving the environment and creating pieces of art in terms of fashion, that last longer and become timeless pieces like that hand-woven Banarasi Saree from your grandmother’s collection. Fashion that you can and would want to use over and over again, that works with the rest of your wardrobe and it took you more than just an 'impulse purchase' stamp to justify your shopping.     


Why Sustainable Fashion?

With Indian digitization and more people being able to access the internet, more fast fashion brands are setting up shops in India and the constant pressure of keeping up with fashion trends is ever so huge, India is already on its way to embracing fast fashion – at great cost to the environment.

What is so wrong with fast fashion - Every year, disposed off clothes result in half a million tons of plastic microfibers in the ocean – the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. These microfibers are spreading through the food chain and are probably in our bodies now. If that isn’t enough for you to go sustainable, then I don’t know what is.

Though sustainable fashion is often labeled as boring due to the biased opinion of many that brands stick to an earthy color palette and loose-fitting clothes, in India, we have much diverse options when it comes to the same. Many local artisans have established a very close relationship with their local ecosystems and are producing their products sustainably. For instance, Kala Cotton, traditionally grown in the Kutch region of Gujarat, is cultivated without any pesticides and requires minimal water. There are various designers and brands as well who are trying to go green and produce a more economic and sustainable piece of fashion for their customers which is fun and function at the same time. 

Sustainable fashion a.k.a slow fashion is the need of the hour wherein brands produce thoughtfully designed, high-quality clothes using non-polluting raw materials and zero-waste production facilities. For the sake of the planet and future generations, there is a clear need to move beyond fast fashion and the linear model of consumption which includes onetime wear clothing. Buying responsibly and using thoughtfully is a step forward from the status quo.


The need for a change is severe and we have to start now. Look at your own wardrobe and start picking out the clothes that you haven’t worn in the last 6 months (which according to fast-fashion are long out of style) and try reusing or recycling and converting them into something new or by simply letting your friends and family go through them (remember one man’s junk is another man’s gold). And next time you go to buy something new for yourself just think twice about your options and find more sustainable options, be it converting your mom’s old lehenga into an Anarkali or just repurposing a piece of jewellery. I myself have kept my wardrobe to minimal strength and choose to get my clothes locally stitched over buying fast fashion ready to wear clothes. 

It does not mean that you can’t express yourself and your style. You just need to find the brands that offer you a more eco-friendly option. I believe in you and your style. See you next time!



Devyani Parashar

Devyani Parashar

I love learning about new things.

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