Story by Tweak India

Break the ‘shapeless sack’ stereotype

When conscious fashion first segued on to our runways a few years ago, there was a little head scratching. Would these shapeless sacks in shades of mud, billowing down the runway, save the planet? Would we be banished us to the fringes of fashionable society, forced to step into the shadows like dowdy dowagers, patrons of unremarkable, forgettable fashion?

Fast forward to the greedy present. Conscious fashion has the personality, the sex appeal and the silhouettes that have obliterated and forgiven all past frumpiness. Heck, it even rivals the oomph of a midriff-showing sari. We combed our closets to bring you our favourite responsible fashion labels, which won’t burn a hole in your hand-sewn Ikat pockets.

The Summer House
The Bengaluru-based label embodies the traits of a cerebral, modern woman with its designs. The Summer House is a small batch manufacturer which uses earth-friendly fabrics to create thoughtful garments, such as their clever reversible swimwear collection made from econyl, a regenerated nylon fabric from ocean waste. If you’re a minimal-minded like I am, their dreamy whites are season-less and extremely feminine. But they dabble in colour and prints too. Their Equestrian collection’s signature motifs gallop across summer meadows in bold colours, while The Romantics is a sensual summer look of handwoven jamdani and batiks. Price range: ₹2,500-9,000

Kriti Tula and Paras Arora’s upcycled label Doodlage uses plastic, factory, and consumer waste in their designs. The zero-waste brand uses even itty-bitty pieces of fabrics in their accessories or funky stationery. Sometimes there’s a lot going on with their clothes (a patch here and a patch there), but it all fits. In the words of Tula, who substitutes water guzzling-conventional cottons and landfill-occupying polyester with recycled cotton polyester, corn, eucalyptus and banana fibre fabrics, and even tencel-waste, “There’s a lot of scope to experiment and its good for the environment, which makes it even sexier.” Doodlage’s latest collection, A Meadow of Wildflowers, is a study of freehand, continuous blind line drawing of flowers. The result is a burst of wild flowers in hues of turmeric, haze and old brick, speckled with odd patches and embroidery. Price range: ₹1,800 to ₹12,000

Nature lover and travel addict Mahima Gujral’s label Sui, meaning needle, is inspired from her love of both. Her cutesy label has serious intentions–to make conscious fashion relatable and chic with stylish silhouettes. From slinky crop tops and classic shirts to off shoulder dresses and knit tees, Sui uses cotton, hemp, Tencel and even recycled fabrics. “Sexiness isn’t limited to a certain body type. We try to be as green as we can, with silhouettes that cater to all,” she says. We love her winter editFlow, inspired by her travels to Australia’s Byron Bay, with earthy gilets, maxi dresses and chic trousers inspired by the slowness of the bayside. Price range: ₹2,500- Rs.11,000

Pasithea Lifestyle
Named after the Greek goddess of relaxation and meditation, Ahmedabad-based Tanya Jain’s Indie luxe label Pasithea Lifestyle scooped the emerging sustainable fashion label award at the Pure Conscious show held in London last year.  A purveyor of fuss-free fashion, the label creates nightwear, leisurewear and work classics from GOTS-certified cotton, khadi, linen and recycled textiles. A fan of solid colours with minimal embellishments, the label is gentle on your pocket and kind to earth. Price range: ₹1,000 to 6,500

The Jodi Life
Funky capsule collections with pops of colours, Gauri Verma and Karuna Laungani’s The Jodi Lifeis at once fiery, fun and fashionable. Their leitmotif is the block print on 100 per cent Indian textiles, celebrating Wabi-Sabi, a term which incidentally headlined one of their previous lines. Irreverent, with a sense of humour, each season champions a new colour and print story. We’re obsessed with their OTT prints in their latest Working Girl collection. It’s for the hustlin’ no-compromise accomplished ‘IT’ girl coming into her own. Feel like the homecoming queen in the bold Yayoi maxi dress inspired by iconic Japanese artist and polka dot maestro Yayoi Kusama or the hand-blocked printed Gaugin midi dress that’s oh so fine! I also love their new range of accessories — think printed scrunchies and headwraps. Price range: ₹2,600- 15,000

When you want your clothes to hug you back, choose Bengaluru-based label Taaka (meaning a stitch) which specialises in loose, anti-fit XL sized clothing made from fabrics sourced from Maheshwar, Jaipur, Surat and Karnataka. The label’s focus is on kaarigari or craftsmanship, looking beyond the aesthetic but rather at the story. Founder Natasha Tyagi Sachdeva, says, “Every outfit made by homegrown labels like Taaka are like fingerprints, what you own is one of a kind.” At Taaka, geometry abounds. We love the the Clam Digger Pants with a meadow hem. Price range: ₹4,000 to 15,000

Fit, form and fabric define Raul Rai and Simran Lal’s modern Indian lifestyle brand Nicobar. Putting a pause of the fast-fashion pendulum, the label encourages you to layer and mix and match separates, with a nod towards thoughtful consumption. They focus on fabrics, styles and cuts, conceived by lead designer Aparna Chandra, creating clothes that are designed to last, which are not trend-driven, and are inspired by natural design and materials. From stylish dresses and overlays to sensual saris and bottoms, their latest collection Serai ambles through the alleys of Rajasthan bringing back pastel hued pinks and greys with a glimmer of silver. Price range: ₹500 -₹28,500

Runaway Bicycle
Former advertising professional Preeti Verma’s labour of love Runaway Bicycle is a Mumbai-based design studio that celebrates effortless and free fashion for everyday living. Verma photographs her models, whose feet are always painted, wearing the easy breezy designs herself. Her clothing is an invitation to sensual laziness. Using fabrics such as pure handloom cottons, mashru, handspun khadi, and even machine-made cottons she explores shapes (balloon shaped or A-line), silhouettes (flouncy and airy, etc) and a soft colour palette (jamun, ivory, Indigo and more). With collection names such as The Head and The Heart, Sunbeams from 19 degrees, Let’s Talk on The Way and Mom Knows Best, with Runaway Bicycle, you’re stepping into Verma’s multi-hyphenated universe of sustainable design. Price range: ₹3,900 onwards

Going beyond seasons, Aureole, founded by Aditi Mohoni stands for simplicity and mindfulness. From an idea scribbled on a piece of paper, the Mumbai-based label uses GOTS cotton, khadi, silk and Muslin and works with weavers from West Bengal and Gujarat. We love the shape enhancing Puzzle Dress in chanderi silk with a deep v neck, which is cinched at the waist, a lovely outfit for a night out.

Rias Jaipur
This young label from Jaipur straddles ancient traditions and a millennial muse. The khadi is handspun, using dabu and hand block printing by with artisans in West Bengal and Rajasthan. We’re hot for their envelope-pushing creations, such as the funky Trench Jogger Set, a three-piece set of jackets, slip and trousers and the Strappy Hills Kurta Dress with Joggers, a cascading deep blue A-line dress with side wooden buttons and double striped joggers-both effortless, modern and very rapper chic. Price range: ₹2,000 – ₹8,000

Neeti Mehra is a sustainability expert and the founder of Beej Living, a journal on slow living in India.

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