Packing for the holidays, ethically


Skip seasonal trends and opt for outfits that will be considered stylish even a decade down the line


Upcycling, recycling, creating something from waste or from scratch... these are choices people make when it comes to their wardrobe. If you are looking to maintain some level of sustainability, then it is important to do it sensibly. Just because high street is available at cheap price points, it does not mean we should hoard them. (Having said that, brands like H&M have introduced sustainable lines, and are encouraging customers to take better care of their clothes so they last longer, and to recycle old outfits.)

A lot of labels in India are following the tenets of slow fashion. Doodlage, for instance, picks up leftover fabric to make one-of-a-kind pieces. Rina Singh at Eka works with weavers to create textiles that suit our weather. Anavila’s handwoven saris are easy to take care of — you are saving the environment by using less detergent. We have to look at it in a 360 degree manner. Just because the fabric is sustainable does not make you a responsible consumer.

Aneeth Arora’s Péro started off with upcycling — they might not necessarily cut up your mother’s treasured sari and turn it into a jacket, but they will work it in a way that will make it easy for you to wear it in the coming years. I remember using a sample jacket from them for a shoot with interior designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel, who really liked it and wanted to buy it. But Arora told me it was not possible: her fabric comes from the hills, and if she sold this one, she would have to wait another three months to get enough to make a similar piece. When you know the amount of work that goes into the making of your clothes, it’s only natural that you value them more.

Other brands follow sustainability by not following seasons or trends: you can buy it today and wear it 10 years down the line. Like Untitled Co by Rinzin Lama and Shenali Sema, a made-in-India womenswear label. The same goes for 11.11 clothing; they do kora and sustainable khadi jeans. There are people who are taking the necessary steps to make sure that everyone pays attention to what they are buying, while also taking the economy into account. At a time when people are reconsidering their buying patterns, you need to go the way of buying less and wearing more.

— As told to Susanna Myrtle Lazarus. Beauty products in the list are curated by Mamta Mody, beauty and health editor of Elle India.

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