SARTORIAL ECONOMICS
Verve|April - May 2020
Sisters Tashi and Tara Mitra demonstrate to Akanksha Pandey how deviating from the mainstream can bend the way we think, live and dress
Akanksha Pandey

Thrift fashion is not a new concept; in the past decade, we witnessed how second-hand clothing evolved from being an under-trend to a solution. A couple of years ago, for instance, Lovebirds used to be a vintage shop — until they turned into a brand for minimalist clothing that is at the helm of this fashion subculture today. Amrita Khanna, its co-founder, had launched the store in Delhi in 2010, giving cognisance to a burst of offbeat artists, each one strikingly different in appearance from the other. This was perhaps my first lesson on individuality. As a novice in the magazine business at that time, I was being trained to spot trends, the brands that were designing those trends, and who was influential. I never questioned that line of thought, just followed it. Looking at a reflection of myself in a vintage, white suit with shoulder-pad details (something I could never have discovered in a high street store) was when fashion, for me, became intertwined with the process of self-expression and finding a purpose.

It takes time for audiences to adapt to alternate ideas, and today, we are rethinking our choices and returning to the old ways of making less, buying less, and to the art of curation. Thrift fashion encompasses recycling used clothing, selling unwanted garments and buying pre-owned pieces at a lesser value. This prevents clothing from ending up in landfills, thus reducing its carbon footprint and maintaining circular fashion ecosystems. “Curation” has become a serious business buzzword, and creative thinking is allowing values to align with execution. With repetitive fashion trends becoming too common, owning a garment that nobody else has can be a rare gift.

Championing mindfulness are sisters Tashi and Tara Mitra. They have decided to stop buying fast fashion and have chosen the more sustainable route of shopping for secondhand clothing. Tashi Mitra, 27, graduated in 2016 with a major in philosophy from Pomona College and is currently working at a life-skills education non-profit, Dream A Dream. Tara Mitra, 23, is a student at Wesleyan University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and philosophy.

In an exclusive feature styled by them, the siblings speak about how a shift in perspective has led them to make more informed choices….

What are your thoughts on environmentally conscious fashion?

Tara: The fashion industry’s impact is vast and varied, from labour exploitation to climate change. Fast fashion has become popular for its affordable prices, but many don’t realise that this affordability comes at a price. Marginalised communities end up feeling the violence of fast fashion through long hours and low wages. They even experience climate change more intensely because of phenomena like gentrification. The market allows for alienation, allowing us to forget about the origins of our clothes, the people who make them and the plants that provide the material.

Tashi: Despite an increasing awareness of injustice and lack of environmental sustainability, the fast fashion industry continues to grow. What we often tend to forget or ignore, is that with every off-the-rack shirt that we wear for two months before it is lost in the depths of our closets, we are complicit in destroying our environment. Today, the fashion industry accounts for around 10 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions and is responsible for massive water consumption and micro-plastic pollution of the ocean. Until we recognise the role each one of us plays in creating these large-scale realities, we will remain unable to create a healthy and thriving world.

How long has it been since you stopped buying fast fashion?

Tara: I stopped maybe somewhere between 2016-2017…. Tashi: It’s been four or five years, between late 2015 and early 2016.

What led to your decision of not indulging in fast fashion anymore?

Tara: I remember Tashi mentioning that she was only going to buy thrifted clothes because of the violence inherent in fast fashion. That really stayed with me since I had become attuned to labour exploitation in the animal agriculture industry through my work on human and nonhuman relationships. I realised that being vegan was not enough, especially since I had the privilege and ability to do more. Giving up fast fashion wasn’t difficult because the outfits felt too generic; everyone having the same clothes is not exciting.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM VERVEView All

SARTORIAL ECONOMICS

Sisters Tashi and Tara Mitra demonstrate to Akanksha Pandey how deviating from the mainstream can bend the way we think, live and dress

10+ mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

NOTES TO SELF

An anthropomorphized tiger’s perspective, a viscerally worded futuristic interpretation of loss, a critique of performative activism, a meta reflection on the earth’s crises. Told through different lenses, Janaki Lenin, Indrapramit Das, Keshava Guha and Roshan Ali’s stories — written exclusively for Verve — attempt to make sense of the fraught reality that we exist in today

10+ mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

The Eternal Optimist

As Generation X and xennials grapple with fully transitioning to conscious living, young millennials and Generation Z are leading the charge to reverse human-caused environmental damage. Sahar Mansoor, founder and CEO of the Bengaluru-based zero-waste social enterprise Bare Necessities, has a simple overarching philosophy: consume less and stay positive. Verve gets deeper into the mindset of the action-oriented earth advocate

10+ mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

Redemption SONGS

Indian music festivals have been demonstrating a refreshing sense of responsibility in terms of their ecological impact. Interacting with stakeholders who strive to make these large-scale events greener, Akhil Sood investigates the reasons behind the improved attitudes of audiences and the increase in corporate support.

10+ mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

earth hour

Crafted using nature’s elements, these dials draw inspiration from the many heterogeneous materials and hues around us.Verve turns its lens onto a mesmerising few

3 mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

Children are holding adults accountable for both the grim future they are facing and the toll this is taking on their mental health. Madhumita Bhattacharyya initiates conversations with families of young climate activists and observes the extent to which parenting has changed in the face of catastrophe

6 mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

NATURAL JUSTICE

Most of us are only just waking up to the urgency of climatic action. When the stakes are so high, what can individual action solve? Mridula Mary Paul, an environmental policy expert, is proof of the tenacity needed to effect systemic change. It’s not glamorous, and the rewards are few and far between, but that doesn’t stop her from aiming big, finds Anandita Bhalerao

9 mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

Along For The Ride

Navigating Indian streets as a woman is hard enough. But what is it like while riding a bicycle? Bengaluru-based Shreya Dasgupta, a regular cyclist, speaks to five urban women about the pros and cons of this increasingly popular means of transport.

8 mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

Diamonds With Provenance

In keeping with the company’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility, Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chief sustainability officer at Tiffany & Co. and chairman and president at The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, enlightens Shirin Mehta on the efforts that make the jewellery giant an industry leader in transparency

6 mins read
Verve
April - May 2020

Making Amends

This generation’s penchant for thoughtless consumption gets Madhu Jain roiled up, and she wonders if nature is getting its own back for our missteps…

3 mins read
Verve
April - May 2020
RELATED STORIES

SHRINKING WORLD OF CHANGPAS

The Changpas are trans-Himalayan nomads. For ages, they have roamed the Changthang region of southeastern Ladakh, cut off from the world. Some accounts say they travelled across the Himalayas to arrive here around the 8th century. Located at an altitude of 4,500 metres, life in this arid, vast and rugged plateau is hard. Winters are very long, summers short and vegetation scarce. As a result, the Changpas have led a pastoral life. They rear Changthangi goat, from whose under coat comes the famous pashmina wool. The goats graze on the mountainsides, feeding on seasonal grasses. The weather, however, has changed in the past few decades. The winters and summers are warmer, and there is a perceptive decline in precipitation and snowfall between November and March. This has drastically reduced the size of the grazing grounds and the Changpas now have to shift locations more frequently. RITAYAN MUKHERJEE captures the changing lifestyle of the Changpas

1 min read
Down To Earth
December 16, 2020

GIRLS A LOUD

To represent – and celebrate – women exactly as they are was the guiding light that inspired Dove to create Project #ShowUs – the world’s largest stock photo library created by women to shatter beauty stereotypes and offer the most inclusive vision of beauty the world has ever seen. For as long as we’ve known, a model has been a figure of universal awe – tall, leggy, fair-skinned with immaculate bone structure. This definition also set a fixed beauty standard for girls all over the world that wasn’t always achievable. But the modelling industry today has evolved leaps and bounds, women of diverse appearances are being celebrated for their unique features. We’ve spotlighted four young women who represent this path-breaking movement as they share their thoughts on matters of beauty and self

3 mins read
Grazia
December 2019

Tantalizing And Talented Tashi Pedy

Here is a candid conversation with model Tashi Pedy- about her journey, fashion, fitness routine and much more.

3 mins read
The Lifestyle journalist
June 2019