Ethical fashion in India

I thought I’ll broach a topic that is a little squirm inducing for most of us, unless you are sociopath or a marketing person (sometimes both are one and the same).

It is about clothing and the people who create them. To lay the foundation a little bit, I’ve always been a snob when it comes to quality and I look down upon those who so proudly claim they bought a dozen of something for peanuts from Big Bazaar or Max retail or whatever. In fact, its my pet peeve. I mean, “Don’t be proud of the fact that you bought something so cheap, because someone else is paying the real price”. It could be the poor manufacturer who’s margins are wafer thin, or the seamstresses sewing in the grueling heat all day, who don’t get paid on time, or may be, all of these cheap clothes have just come from china, where they are not all that big on human rights or ethics (or the environment for that matter) and are just looking to crush all manufacturing of the entire world. (Phew..I need a couple of hours to cool off)

It has served me well to pay a little premium for quality, because the clothes last really long and I throw out very little stuff. I like certain cuts only (my thirties have helped me ascertain that) so I know what to shop for. But I’ve never really thought about buying only organic or fair trade clothing. There aren’t many brands that boast fair trade, and I’ve only seen the fair trade label on Body shop products.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I came upon a brand called  No Nasties. An Indian brand, they make organic and fair trade clothing in the coolest looking silhouettes.

Raven Tunic: Claystone -  Fairtrade & Organic Cotton Dresses by No Nasties. Made in India. Available for wholesale. - 1 Raven Tunic: Mica -  Fairtrade & Organic Cotton Dresses by No Nasties. Made in India. Available for wholesale. - 1 Maxi Dress : Beryl -  Fairtrade & Organic Cotton Dresses by No Nasties. Made in India. Available for wholesale. - 1 Slim Skirt: Charcoal -  Fairtrade & Organic Cotton Skirt by No Nasties. Made in India. Available for wholesale. - 1(Courtesy – No nasties)

I was reading through their blog and I read that a cotton farmer kills himself every 30 minutes in this country, and I was shocked. Organic cotton is expensive and no one is interested in buying it, because it costs a little bit more, so the farmer kills himself, unable to sell his crop or repay the mounting bank debts.

I prefer buying organic food especially for my kids, because the threat of cancer from toxic pesticides looms really large in my mind. Organic clothing, not so much because “organic” meant “fancy” and “expensive” to me. Cotton is one of the most pesticide intensive crops apparently, and we consume  it. We wear it, put in on our kids, throw it away when we are tired of it and this pesticide lingers in everything.

I now know that “Organic” basically means that, the crop grows at it own pace without being pushed artificially through growth boosters. It also means that toxic pesticides are not used to control the critters and water based non-polluting dyes are used.

It is a little expensive than regular cotton but  its worth giving organic clothing a try.

Even if we can’t always buy organic clothing, fair trade is something we should not ignore. Everyone deserves fair wages and decent working conditions. Little kids should not be used as factory labour to save on costs.

It is a vicious circle actually. The consumers demand cheap and fast fashion and that has a domino effect on everything else. Why are we in such a hurry anyways? Let us wait. Good things come to those who wait.

We have amazing cotton  and other natural fabrics here in India. The quality is fantastic. The Europeans and Americans love it and they come here to buy it. We don’t see it used in our country because we are happy with substandard items as long as it is cheap. It is getting worse with these soul-less e-commerce players offering mind boggling discounts, so no one wants to buy anything at full price.

Paying for quality actually ends up saving money in the long run, and drastically reduces waste. It is time to think about this.

Consume less. Support small businesses that make honest products. Don’t buy cheap quality items.

Check out when you get the time.






  1. Well said. We are (I hope) starting to realise that really cheap clothing is unsustainable. As you said, if something is really cheap someone is paying heavily somewhere else.


  2. That was a very interesting perspective! And such good writing. Keep the posts coming 🙂


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