Building India’s First Sustainable Fashion Community
Fashion. An industry that clothes billions and employs millions, is one of the most polluting and resource-intensive industries in the world. In addition to its environmental woes, the industry mainly employees women from low-income backgrounds who are vulnerable to exploitation and poor working conditions. But, it’s not all bad news. The wheels are turning and the world is at the cusp of change. Here, in India, where clothes are made and consumerism is rising, there’s parallely a movement called sustainable fashion which is rising. More and more people are beginning to care and understand how our everyday clothing choices affect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the people we see around us.
This time, last year, we (Gauri and Lavanya) started an online community called SUSS to connect with people working in sustainable fashion, which to us simply means fashion that cares, for the planet and the people, every step of the way. SUSS grew beyond our initial ambitions, and we were inspired by our members — students, professionals, writes, film-makers, and conscious individuals to create offline experiences as well. What followed were four events, which through a combination of films, panel discussions, lighting talks, workshops, clothes swaps, and networking, allowed attendees to explore different facets of sustainable fashion.
We loved the response to both the community and events, and the collaborations that took shape out of these. But more than that (on a more self serving note!) we loved that, we, two people who are nearly obsessed with this topic, were able to learn more and be inspired every day. In the last one year or so, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s this — sustainability is complex and requires systems change. This blog is a product of this realization and our desire to share our reflections, ideas and questions (sometimes existential!) with you all. So, here we are and this is us. Working in factories on worker wellbeing and environmental sustainability programs by day, and #SUSS-ingItOut by night and weekends!
This is the story of the phenomenal people we get to know everyday, the innovations they’re working on, how bringing them together is shaking things up, and how everyday people are experiencing the impact of their clothes. All of this from a country which has the unique attribute of being a supplier and a consumer, with a treasure trove of sustainable traditions and crafts.
Above all, this is going to be the story of our growth. This year we want to make our work more meaningful, fun, and accessible. We want to make our events more relevant to those who are working in the industry. For conscious individuals, we want to curate more fun experiences like Do-It-Yourself (DIY) parties and clothing swap fests.
Ultimately we want to stir up a movement from the place where clothes are made. We hope you can draw lessons from our journey, and at the same time feel inspired to challenge us, throw ideas at us, or work with us.
SUSS is a community to move the needle on sustainable fashion in India. You can learn more about us at here.
This article was written by Gauri Sharma and Lavanya Garg, both Co-founders at SUSS.