When we talk about local homegrown brands how often do we, inadvertently, look at it from a coloniser’s lens? Deconstructing our ideas of progress and development and shifting it towards sustainability with an inherent respect for the environment we live in is crucial. Striking a long-overdue balance with historical processes of colonialism which has resulted in a large wealth equity gap with more local sustainable, organically produced ethical brands is needed. Do we cater to MNCs or locally grown, designed and finished products from right here on the homeland? How much do we highlight sustainable and ethical brands that are shifting their respective arenas of businesses in India?
The brands listed here are innovative to their last fibre and are emboldened with a sense of identity and creativity. They are actively aiding an evolution of ideas, changing the standard, and creating India’s culturally-driven diverse marketplaces to flourish. Supporting local and small sustainable businesses opens up not only space for innovation but also for a better living for everyone.
A Canadian study came out with research that marijuana could possibly be used as an adjunct therapy for certain strands of the COVID-19 virus. Hemp is not to be confused with its more famous sibling marijuana; they both belong to the Cannabaceae family but are cultivated for different purposes. Although Hemp has mild psychoactive effects it is mainly used for its incredibly strong fibre. Telangana-based Hemp Republic value the highly versatile nature of hemp and how it can be immensely beneficial for a healthy ecosystem. They state on their website the multiple uses of Hemp that can be, in the future a substitution, “While its fibre can replace textiles and synthetic materials to manufacture ropes, canvas, paper and clothes, Hemp seed/oil has many uses in the food, hygiene and industrial markets.” Their products range from fabric and paper to seed oil and protein.
Malai refers to the creamy flesh of the coconut and as a fashion and interior decoration brand that is highly involved with sustainability, they only use Malai. It is, as described on their website, “a newly developed biocomposite material made from entirely organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose, grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in Southern India”, also used to create their biodegradable, vegan and PETA approved products. The material Malai itself comes in three degrees — Malai soft, Malai medium and Malai strong.
According to Malai’s website, “Malai is highly customisable when it comes to weight. The higher the weight, the stronger the material. Thinner weights are more flexible and softer. We can accommodate the material weight depending on your application.” The versatility and dexterity that Malai provides as a brand and as a biocomposite material that’s far more eco-friendly and sustainable than leather or plastic is due to their attention and care to the process itself. Whether it is shoes or chairs, Malai pivots from the consequences of fast-fashion and comes out with a solution.
Lune is an independent, all-female-run jewellery shop in Mumbai and art project that creates statement pieces as well as more light discerning jewellery from hoops to toggle bar bracelets. They embody gold tones and symbols of sparkling stars and moons to cultivate their image of the feminine.
IV. Naagin Hot Sauce
“India is the largest consumer and exporter of chillies in the world. Indian cuisine is globally renowned for all things spicy. And yet, the best-selling hot sauce in India is an American product made with chillies from Mexico,” states the eponymous brand on its website. Championing local tastes, this particular hot sauce includes the wonders of “Maharashtrian cuisine, featuring the Sankeshwari chilli that gives Kolhapuri food its distinctive spiciness and bright red colour” for the Naagin Original sauce. The Naagin Bhoot, on the other hand, has highlights of “the infamous Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) from Assam in North-East India.” A true magic mirchi decoction to put on your hot wings or roasted tofu, this sauce isn’t for the faint-hearted.
‘A STRONG CIRCULAR DESIGN HOUSE MADE FOR EVERY EPOCH TO CELEBRATE CRAFTS TREASURES OF OSTRACIZED INDIAN DALIT COMMUNITY.’
Chamar Studio embodies empowerment and community pride not only as means to embolden the narrative of what fashion is and can be but also through a lens of equipping the Chamar artisans with a goal towards social justice. Bombay-born artist and activist Sudheer Rajbhar, who founded Chamar Studio, does intermix Dalit pride, innovation, artistry, and empowerment through sustainably recycling rubber from the industry leftovers or discarded materials to create beautifully designed bags. The Chamar signature is incredibly symbolic representing equality, the Dalit community and hope for a world removed from environmentally destructive industries and ideologies.
Doodlage creates recycled, upcycled, and zero waste clothing pieces and accessories. Aiming towards creating a sustainable and eco-conscious world, all their pieces are carefully thought out to make sure there are no adverse effects on the environment.
Says Doodlage’s founder, Kriti Tula, in talking about how she knew sustainable and conscious fashion was the need of the hour, “It’s difficult to ignore the implications of a linear fashion model when you are a part of the ecosystem. When we started Doodlage, the idea was to simply work with an alternate supply chain to reduce the pressure on our environment without compromising with the aesthetics of our styles. Through my years of working in the fashion industry, I got a chance to contribute and learn from various organisations doing great work to change the production system. I found a need gap in communication to consumers about the implication of fashion and connecting them to alternatives, which gradually led me to create Doodlage.” Further, Kriti expands on the aesthetic, design, and form of her clothing pieces, “Our design process starts with the raw material. Once collected, the fabric is fixed and the designs are created around the nature of the material and how we can create replicable pieces from what is available. As we usually work with embroideries, patching and panelling pieces, our silhouettes are minimal.”
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