5 ‘tried and tested’ sustainable brands you need to know now

sustainable feature final

5 tried and tested sustainable brands you need to know

By, Janani Krishnan

A designer of sustainable fashion creates their wares with consideration to the environmental and the social impact the clothes may have throughout their total life span. They also think about the products carbon footprint, which is why you need to know your local sustainable brands. Why ship from international retailers, when you can pick up super-cute clothes from around the corner?

But, then all the big brands are also around the corner. So why go sustainable, you ask?

a. Don’t you want to know that the person who made your clothes isn’t a poor Bangladeshi kid who should be in school if she wasn’t hand-stitching your latest sequins pants?

b. Did you know that the fashion industry is the biggest contributor to waste globally? Fast fashion comes with dire consequences, people. Not just for our wallets or egos (the horror of wearing the same clothes as another is real,) but for our planet.

Where your “fast fashion” clothes go to die, via The Guardian

I like sustainable fashion because it’s slow and thoughtful. The designers research and care about where they source their raw materials. They consider the longevity of the fabric and how it feels to the touch; they use traditional techniques of weaving, sewing and design. Equally important for me: they care about having a relationship with their customer.

My journey into the world of sustainable fashion wasn’t one of choice, so trust me, I’m not judging you for buying your latest Mango blouse. But, I have sensitive skin. Anytime I wear a synthetic fabric, I break out into rashes and my body overheats. I’m not speaking on my experience in Bombay alone, this is the same even in the cooler climates. There’s copious amounts of sweat, I feel uncomfortable. This sucks, because sometimes I also want to pick up that cute top from Fashion Street, but cannot.

Me in synthetic fabrics ( don’t I wish I was her.. don’t we all? 😀 )

This is also me (only I’m not a blonde, duh.)

and I don’t go to church. No promises on the sinner part 😉

On the bright side: I’m your living, breathing human guinea pig. If I’m saying the clothing is all-natural, it is. If it isn’t, my skin — the ultimate litmus test — will know (and I’ll tell you.)

So, to start with: here are five of my favourite tried and tested Indian sustainable fashion designers:

1. Plantation House

This brand is very close to my heart and has been part of my life for over six years now. I had my first brush with thoughtful fashion with a clear aesthetic that is unabashed about its identity when I walked into their store in Bangalore in 2010. Shalini, the designer, uses solid colors, clean lines, and simple, roomy silhouettes in either cotton, cotton-silk or pure silk.

The fabrics are light, and she doesn’t churn new designs every season, and instead focuses on slowly introducing new silhouettes over time. I love that these designs flow on your body but don’t cling to it – and for someone who sweats at the hint of warmth, the practicality can’t be beaten as the silhouettes allow room for your skin to breathe. I am partial to their cotton and cotton/silk blends as there’s less fear of sweat stains than with the pure silk designs. (We are in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave, thanks to global warming. And who here doesn’t sweat? You do, right? You better. Otherwise, you need to see a doctor; sweating is natural.)

2. The SummerHouse 

Seems like I have a thing for brands with house in their name 🙂 This super fresh brand is Bangalore-based and they only retail online (except for the odd pop-up shops at their studio.) My personal favorites are all from a collection called ‘The Rescued Ones’ – where the designers used a surplus stock of fabric to make the clothes. Simple, modern silhouettes in cotton/silk are their USP. Their designs run the gamut of bohemian to structured using fabulous cotton and silks.

3. Cord

Cord is a find and a half that just came to me as I was scouring the internet for Indian designers who focus on products that tell a story. At the time, I was looking for a replacement for my everyday handbag. When I saw Cord’s accessories, I knew they’d find loving homes on me. From a function, design and story-telling perspective, I love everything about these guys — from the materials they use to their minimalist aesthetic.

4. Three

I discovered the lovely Pallavi Dhyani’s label last year while trolling the internet on a sleepless night. She uses stripes as a recurring theme throughout her designs and clean lines with predominantly cotton as her fabric of choice. The silhouettes are simple, yet interesting and the talented Anushka Manchanda is oft found wearing her creations.

5. Crow

This is another ‘Vintage Garden’ pop-up find, and between the fabrics and silhouettes it’s pretty easy to fall in love with their designs. Easy breezy linen, beautiful ajrakh fabrics, pure cotton and, of course, roomy yet flattering silhouettes. I love the blue and white striped shirt dress that I recently bought from them. It also works overtime as a jacket and tunic as well. 🙂

My love for these brands was heightened after interacting with each of their designers, be it brief or more sustained friendships (see how you can use that word anywhere.) They’re approachable, make an effort to interact directly with their customers, and have something to say through their designs.


Meet our new contributor:

Janani Krishnan

Janani Krishnan pic

Janani is a global citizen, she says and adds that she knows that sounds a little pretentious but it’s true. Currently, she’s based out of Mumbai and totally in love with the city, people and manic energy! “What makes me tick – numbers, animals, sustainable fashion, natural beauty, compassion, public art, food, being outdoors, travel and believing in the goodness of people” she says. You can keep up with her shopping adventures on our website in the many more posts to follow, and check out her on Instagram.

Note: All photos are from the websites and social media of the brands, and are their copyright. The header image is of  products that Janani’s bought over time from the designers featured herein. 
Janani Krishnan
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Janani is a global citizen, she says and adds that she knows that sounds a little pretentious but it’s true. Currently, she’s based out of Mumbai and totally in love with the city, people and manic energy! “What makes me tick – numbers, animals, sustainable fashion, natural beauty, compassion, public art, food, being outdoors, travel and believing in the goodness of people” she says. She is also a human litmus test for all brands claiming to be sustainable and organic, and she tells you the truth. Why? Because you deserve to know.

1 Comment

  • Rivika Bisht

    Hi Janani,

    I found your shopping diet article interesting. I obviously have the shopping bug myself.
    I know I don’t NEED new clothes. It is also super hard to get rid of old stuff. I generally hang on for a ‘just in case’ moment. But now I’m learning to let go. It will be nice if you wrote about ‘conscious shopping’. What are the things one can ask oneself when shopping. The questions that would answer the big question “Do I really need it?”
    Also, are any of these sustainable brands widely available? Do they come with a heavy price tag? I found myself asking these questions when reading this article and I thought you might want to include these bits of information as well.