COTTON ON
GQ India|October 2021
In a sea of sustainable brands and endeavours, we shine a light on seven labels doing right by what is, quite literally, the fabric of India: cotton
SAUMYAA VOHRA

Being the biggest cotton producing country in the world has its pluses–and cracking how to work with it sustainably is a big one. Some brands might do the bare minimum it takes for a coat of the greenwash, but several others take the healthy fashion oath seriously. The lens of sustainability has consistently been blurred to suit megacorps, who can’t quite make snackable separates with a tempting price tag if they have ethical, slow fashion costs to reckon with. The labels on our list, however, forgo the quickie formulas in lieu of more thoughtful, responsible cotton-based practices. You’ll find them working with the OG khadi, employing handspun and handwoven cotton weaves, or having straight-up zero-waste POVS that upcycle cotton scraps from older collections and re-energize them for newer ones. The one thing each of these brands has in common, though, is a relationship with the fabric based on respect.

LOVEBIRDS

The beloved indie label, run by Gursi Singh and Amrita Khanna, isn’t as much a household name as it is a favourite to those in the know. It is perhaps that niche badge value that allows the brand to stay true to its functional, modern aesthetic and golden heart. They pride themselves on primo standards, and working with sustainable materials feeds heavily into that. “Our business practices and ethos have always been extremely honest and transparent,” says Singh. “Sustainable practices and the use of high-quality materials do come with a bigger price tag but it never affects production or creativity.” Durability and smart design are intrinsic to the label’s language, with an effort to being sustainable playing a pivotal part. Seventy-five percent of the garments in each of their collections find their origins in organic cotton poplin– ethically and locally sourced, of course, with the occasional use of khadi. Their prints are allowed to hand block-printing and screen printing methods on that cotton. “We also began an upcycling initiative to manage waste during production. Starting with our SS20 collection, we’ve been making upcycled, coordinated cross-body bags, masks, and lifestyle accessories; each made from the ‘katran’ waste generated during the cutting stage,” Khanna shares. “Sustainable cotton is actually one of the easier fabrics to work with, and our design team takes challenges positively.”

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