From Roots to Runway: 4 Homegrown Brands Pioneering Sustainable & Gender-Fluid Fashion

The clothing we wear reflects our values and beliefs.
The clothing we wear reflects our values and beliefs.11:11

Some of the biggest challenges in embracing fashion involve knowing that it's harmful for the environment and that it can influence how others perceive you. An ostensibly newfound mindfulness regarding where your wardrobe is sourced from, whether it conforms to your gender identity and the carbon footprint you might be contributing to is formidable enough to shape the sartorial paradigm around sustainability and inclusivity. Day 2 of the recently concluded Lakmé Fashion Week even held space for designers working with regenerated cotton or hemp, competing for the U.N. backed Circular Design Challenge and proving that the clothing we wear should reflect our core values and beliefs. Although perfectly normalised for the likes of Jim Sarbh or Ranveer Singh to don a polka dot Sabyasachi ensemble that qualifies as genderless clothing, the reality of androgyny in India when examined through the lens of street shopping culture, remains circumscribed by inquisitive sales associates and deep-seated transphobia. Nevertheless, the e-commerce market for non-binary apparel is projected to rise by 6.5 per cent annually and from skinny jeans to embellished ponchos, the edicts of heteronormativity are destined to lose social currency sooner than later. Here are a handful of homegrown labels that are emerging frontrunners for conscious couture.

I. World Of Crow

Informed by founder Shaila S. Khubchandani's design philosophy of minimalism and easy dressing, World Of Crow was launched in 2011 offering luxury organic wear, ethically made and curated primarily for women. However, an offshoot platform called Phoria focusses on handwoven organic cotton and linen garments that can be procured from their extensive database to help plus-sized women, non-binary and trans people find the brands that encompass all bodies and genders. Known to reuse their offcuts for price tags to reduce textile wastes, the brand is reputed for its crisply pleated dresses and empathetic partnership with skilled artisan clusters from Kachchh (Gujarat).

Check out their online store here.

II. 11.11 / eleven eleven

A noteworthy contender for the aforementioned Circular Design Challenge at this year's Lakmé Fashion Week, 11.11 has a fibre portfolio of using non-GMO Kala cotton and natural indigo dye grown via Bio Dynamic farming practices. Renowned for their comprehensive seed-to-stitch interconnectedness, the brand deals in network manufacturing by collaborating with hand-spinners all across the country, producing miniature tie-dyed and bandhini silhouettes for the gender-fluid shopper. Their exclusive capsule collection features expressive kaftans and long jackets worked on by Kalamkari textile artists from Andhra Pradesh.

You can shop for more here.

III. One Less

Spearheading initiatives like 'one purchase equals one tree' in tandem with the Mukul Madhav Foundation, this Pune-based socially responsible label is slowly becoming a household name for its body positive tees and sweatshirts. One Less has raised eyebrows (in a good way) for their bamboo socks, using plant-based pigments courtesy of Natural Dye House in Tamil Nadu and their biodegradable packaging from envoPAP.

Defying the replaceability of fast-fashion, CEO Hansika Chhabria insists that their "timeless, gender-neutral pieces" are engineered to steer people away from fashion trends and "towards long term investments" promoting the virtues of slow living and repeating outfits.

You can view their collection here.

IV. Yūga

Proudly vocal for local, Yūga was launched last year by 24-year-old Parul Gupta, and it is already deconstructing the Kerala drape-based mundu into enigmatic shirt dresses and 'shackets'. Brandishing a stylistic vocabulary of woven stripes interlaced with blue-greens of fields and yellow-pinks of sunsets, the reimagined ethnic wear is inspired from the time Parul spent with the H-47 Weavers in Chendamangalam, Kerala. Eager to perpetuate venerable techniques like street sizing and adding rice-flour starch to the yarn before it enters the loom, this brand is trying to stay rooted in the low-waste and carbon-neutral practices of indigenous cloth making.

You can buy more fits here.

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