Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Western countries, particularly the European ones, dominate the market when it comes to sustainability. Not a single South Asian country is on track to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Having read that in UN's latest progress report I made it my mission to find desi women-owned brands that PREACH eco-friendly values.
Here's 5 Desi Clothing Brand leading the way in Sustainability:
The Loom Art was founded by Aarushi Kilawat. Arushi's a Fashion Design graduate from Pear Academy that later went onto specialize in Print Textiles and Fashion Styling at Nottingham Trent University. Her brand's vision is to revive craft culture and the heritage of artisans that spent years perfecting traditional embroideries like Kantha and Cross Stitch. To keep that heritage alive melded with her need to create pieces that were timeless in an age of fast fashion – The Loom Art was born. The brand is unique because they share insights on who made your clothes, which to me felt like a personalized online shopping experience. Arushi was also recently announced as one of the Lakme Fashion Week's GenNext Winner’s of 2020.
Sustainability is at the heart of Mishé's philosophy when creating clothing with minimal wastage of fabrics. The brand is owned by mother-daughter duo Bhumika and Minakshi Ahluwalia. Bhumika completed her undergrad at Parsons School of Design, New York and whilst in New York she worked with renowned designers like Oscar De La Renta and Charles Youssef before moving back to her hometown after graduation. In 2017, she spent time discovering stories of local artisans and got inspired to design a line with her mom, who had similar interests. Fast-forward 2018, they both launched Mishé with a focus to empower women, whilst remaining eco-friendly.
How do you ensure you're buying modest yet eco-friendly pieces? You shop from Electric Bazaar! Shamima and Alicya met at university and bonded over their love for incorporating their culture into their outfits. Shamima's family hails from India, whilst Alicya's from Pakistan. Therefore when they create pieces they focus on making limited edition clothing that highlights their respective identities. Their values are strictly anti-exploitation, which means they work with small, locally-producing makers in Pakistan who are from low-income backgrounds. Electric Bazaar also supports the livelihood of local artisans by taking part in enterprises such as the Sewing Machine Project. The Sewing Machine Project empowers women from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab regions in Pakistan, so they can earn a living from home by starting their own self-sustaining tailoring business.
Miraka by Misha Lakhani creates collections that are an ode to Pakistan's cultural heritage. Their expertise lies in ancient artistic techniques, like zardozi and aari, that date back to as far as the 14th century. Miraka's founder, Misha's work is inspired by textiles of South Asia but also reflects the diverse cultures of the cities she's lived in such as London, where she did her undergrad in Fashion Design, and New York, where she completed a Journalism course in Columbia.
We can't talk about Desi- women-owned clothing brands without bringing up Gundi Studios! I have been borderline OBSESSED with them since Swara Bhaskar wore their jacket in Veere di Wedding. Gundi Studios, owned by Natasha Sumant, focuses on slow fashion that celebrates desi women of different backgrounds. Gundi is an expression typically used to shame outspoken girls aand asserts notions they are 'un-lady-like' or 'feminazi's’ just for being loud. From a young age she found it strange how men would react if a woman was comfortable in her own skin. Later empowered by feminist narratives and working as an art director for iconic brands like Michael Kors Natasha she founded Gundi Studios. Today feminism dictates Gundi’s livelihood as a brand! As said by Sumant in an interview for Verve, "Everything we put out comes from first serving women and then serving the environment."
From stylish Kurta’s with ancient zardozi detailing, modest fashion pieces that bridge the gap in representing multicultural backgrounds, to bold jackets that focus on mocking phrase that were once used to shame women – there are so many desi-women owned brands that are giving competition to fast-fashion brands.
Ladies, it’s time to invest in clothing that was made with genuine intensions that uplift our communities rather than buying from companies with exploitative agendas. That's it for me this week! Join us again next week for some more #Trending content to come out of the diaspora.
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