Meet These 5 Indian Fashion Brands Championing Sustainability … – Jumpstart Media

Meet These 5 Indian Fashion Brands Championing Sustainability … – Jumpstart Media yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7

These brands not only bring an eco-sensitive perspective to clothing—they also empower marginalized communities.
In an age where fashion often receives criticism for its exclusionary practices, a wave of brands is breaking the mold by prioritizing awareness and acceptance of diversity. These brands, through their unique narratives and campaigns, are not just making a style statement but also fostering inclusivity, environmental sustainability and empowerment. This article delves into five such brands that are rewriting the rules of the fashion industry.
Fashion, in its most profound sense, symbolizes more than just garments. For India’s trans community, it marks their journey toward self-acceptance and identity. Based in Varanasi, Shanti Banaras is acclaimed for its inclusive fashion perspective. Take, for instance, its 2022 “Akathya” saree collection as an example. This collection does more than just showcase exquisite silks—it champions the cause of transgender rights. 
One of the missions of “Akathya” is to raise awareness and support the NGO that goes by the same name, which is dedicated to transgender rights. This NGO empowers transgender women with vocational training, helping them achieve self-sufficiency and independence.
This initiative is more than just fabric-deep. It captures the life journeys of eight resilient transgender women through a touching photo essay. Every saree in the collection stands as a tribute, named after one of these remarkable women, reflecting their courage and spirit. The vibrant shades of red and shimmering brocades mirror their rich, multifaceted lives.
Shanti Banaras’ CEO, Amrit Shah, drew inspiration from close familial ties and a passion for uplifting the transgender community. The “Akathya” campaign echoes a clarion call for societal acceptance, where individuals shine through their talents, undimmed by prejudices related to birth or societal status.
Meghna Nayak, the visionary behind LataSita, reimagines discarded materials as creative opportunities. Since 2012, she’s been committed to using every bit of fabric, stationery and packaging. Her distinctive creations include the Reversible Kimono Trench, crafted from merely eight pieces of fabric. With an initial investment of Rs.5 lakh (about US$6,000), LataSita boasts a versatile collection of clothing, including jackets, kimonos, shrugs, kurtas and dresses.
LataSita features two unique collections: “pret”, consisting of sarees from various avenues like surplus stock, and the “custom” collection, which features tailored pieces crafted from the collected sarees from customers through the brand’s “Send Us Your Saree” initiative.  
LataSita’s hallmark is its transparent operations and a “closed-loop production chain”. This ensures that customers are informed about the talented artisans behind their purchases. Also, Meghna also hopes that customers will visit the studio and witness the production process, thereby moving away from passive online browsing.
Katherine Neumann, an Australian designer based in Delhi, has transformed House of Wandering Silk into a beacon of sustainable fashion. Launched in 2013, House of Wandering Silk is renowned for its delightful kantha (i.e. a type of traditional embroidery craft native to rural, eastern South Asia) scarves and saree neckpieces. Through her creation, she draws inspiration from fabrics and craftswomen and narrates stories from across India and Asia, where she has resided for over ten years
The fabric Neumann uses to craft her work is sourced from Delhi’s Gujrat saree traders, who buy from scrap collectors across India. After meticulous inspection of collected materials, full sarees with minor imperfections are transformed into scarves with kantha stitching all over. Half sarees or saree remnants will find new life as enchanting neckpieces. It’s a journey of creativity and resourcefulness that adds a touch of magic to every piece Neumann creates.
In the Bhikamkor village in rural Rajasthan, the spirit of sustainability in fashion takes a human touch with Saheli Women, an all-female artisan collective in the village. Established by Madhu Vaishnav in 2015, this initiative not only combats the daunting shadows of poverty but also revives dwindling traditional embroidery techniques. 
Saheli Women offers economic opportunities by training local women in both ancestral and modern embroidery techniques, enabling them to become independent and skilled artisans. From its humble beginnings with five women, Saheli Women—meaning “female friend” in Hindi—has grown into a vibrant community of 50 artisans.
Emphasizing zero waste, Saheli ensures that no fabric is left behind, with excess being repurposed by the workers’ families. Their eco-conscious choices range from upcycled to GOTS-certified organic fabrics, while also collaborating exclusively with ethically-producing manufacturers. To reduce its carbon footprint, products are shipped in reusable, unbleached cotton bags.
The brand promotes practices like handloom weaving, vegetable dyeing and traditional embroidery, bridging the gap between Indian craftsmanship and the international market. Their future is solar-powered, with plans to expand their studio, offer transport for more artisans, build homes for the needy and foster further collaborations to empower even more women.
Starting initially with accessories, their skill and ambition led to partnerships with global brands like Amsterdam’s Zazi Vintage, showcasing the limitless potential of sustainable, human-centric fashion.
When Asha Scaria conceptualized Swara VOW, she envisioned a platform that would shine a light on the intricate garments crafted by the gifted women from Dungarpur’s tribal communities. Despite initial skepticism from many, her venture now stands as a symbol of empowerment, providing these artisans with a consistent income. 
Swara is all about magnifying the artisan’s voice. It distinguishes itself by addressing three core issues: showcasing rural Indian craftsmanship, advocating for sustainable fashion practices and championing the intellectual property rights of artisans. 
Starting as a Gandhi Fellowship project, Swara VOW has flourished into a globally recognized brand. Their extensive collection spans fashionable Indo-western outfits, from ponchos and reversible jackets to stylish tops and dresses, catering to a wide demographic.
But Asha’s commitment transcends fashion—she confronts the negative impacts of fast fashion, from the use of detrimental chemicals to unfair wages for tailors, and champions organic methods and fair compensation. The brand procures fabrics from the Dabu printing artisans of Akola, renowned for their wholly organic dyeing techniques. Swara’s commitment is further evident in its choice of cloth packaging and its unwavering dedication to ensuring equitable wages for all its tailors.
Fashion is more than just clothing—it’s a statement, an expression and a movement. Brands like Shanti Banaras, LataSita, House of Wandering Silk, Saheli Women and Swara VOW are crafting narratives that stretch beyond the runway. They champion causes, embrace sustainability and amplify voices that were once silenced. By supporting these brands, we don’t just wear clothes; we wear change.
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Header Image Courtesy of Freepik
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