Sustainable Fashion: Here's how you can make your outfits fun while caring for the environment

Social media has created a memetic world. The algorithm shows more of what we like based on our previous engagement, and our feeds get homogeneous. Vivek Agarwal tells us how to make the most out of sustainability.
Sustainable Fashion,sustainability Sustainable Fashion: Here's how you can make your outfits fun while caring for the environment
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When one thinks of a sustainable brand – the imagery that comes to mind is predictable. It's a woman in an earthy-tone dress, running around a meadow, her hand caressing the grass, and hair flowing the wind — or lounging in a white-washed room. The dress has small work done, the fabric looks coarse, and she is barely wearing any accessories. The same goes for the fine print of the imagery. It details how many litres of water were saved during production or the volume of Carbon Dioxide that was not released, and thereby making the world a better place. Boring!

Sustainable fashion isn't defined as minimalism or boring neutral-coloured clothing neatly folded in a sparsely filled wardrobe. It is about ethics and values. It is more about how something is made than how it looks. So why is there such a specific "sustainable brand" look?

Sustainable fashion, demands a careful approach to designing the garments and looking granularly at the production and supply chains. This narrows the options that a conscious brand has compared to a non-mindful brand and, consequently, the products offered to a customer. It is difficult to provide a plethora of products while checking all the boxes required to be called a sustainable fashion brand. On the demand side, it is easy to pair neutrals and work with timeless styles, thereby maximizing the resources that made each garment. It is the primary reason the "look" has become synonymous with the movement. The algorithms further perpetuate it and make it seem like the "look" is the only way to be mindful. False.

Personal style need not be compromised to make conscious choices. The way forward to ensure that "fashion" isn't gone from "sustainable fashion" is to give people the option to bring their taste to it. It should be approached from both supply and demand sides. On the supply side, brands need to understand is that they don't need to check all boxes of a "sustainable brand" checklist. The goal is to reduce footprint and impact. The more earth-friendly options are available to customers, the less inclined they will be to look at other options.

One of the easiest ways to do it is to understand the customer. Indian customers, by nature, love colour and glitz. There's a reason Peacock is Indian's National Bird.

Sustainable fashion brands need to offer unique and fun clothing, make them approachable, and not cater to a niche. It can be achieved in many ways, such as introducing more colours using azo-free dyes, playing with cuts, and offering personalising options. Upcycling vintage and old fabrics and using them along with new ones to create one-of-a-kind products is also a great way to bring personality into each garment. Another important consideration should be offering clothes that aren't meant only for lounging but are versatile and could be worn to work. All these factors will break away from the homogenous aesthetic.

Technologists and Material Scientists are working overtime to introduce materials to make Earth inhabitable for longer duration; In the future, brands and designers will have more options. In the meantime, it is essential to think about the customer and what they want, and not burden the guilt-ridden and conscious consumer with dull and expensive styles. Changemakers and their style should be celebrated with flamboyance.

About the author: Vivek Agarwal is the founder of OOKIOH.

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