Sustainable fashion is an old concept in Indian households. Sustainability, in general, is deep-rooted in our traditions and culture. When we look back, we come across several personal instances where we wholeheartedly practiced sustainable fashion. The practice of upcycling and reusing old clothes have always been a part of our life.
Gradually, with the growth of fast fashion around the world, the concept of sustainability in fashion has been forgotten. Fast fashion and trends have taken precedence, leaving the planet in great danger. When we talk about sustainability in the fashion industry, it is not limited to the raw materials used. Sustainability extends to the manufacturing process, ethical working environment, and payment of wages to the workers. Mass production and using synthetic fabrics are a huge battle that the fashion industry faces today.
Global brands that mass produce, usually have their manufacturing units set up in third-world and underdeveloped countries. It is to cut back on the wages and other expenses like rent, tax, and machinery costs. The sweatshop environment is unethical and could be considered as exploitation. Along with laborer exploitation, mass production also leaves the environment polluted and exploited.
To end these unethical practices, several governments and organizations raised their voice to promote the idea of sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion is when the products are used, reused, and upcycled in all possible ways. Today, we have several sustainable fashion brands across the country and world. In India, Howrah Bridge, a sustainable fashion brand, has emerged to be among the top rated online boutique.
Howrah Bridge sells and promotes sustainable clothing ranging from kids wear to sarees. The prices are pocket-friendly and, the fabrics are feather-soft. The brand owner, Anupriya, is a NIFT graduate. She started the brand in 2011 as a side hustle. Over the years, the brand has grown immensely and, it is well-known in Kolkata.
She was intrigued by the concept of sustainable fashion because of the growth in the fast fashion sector and its unethical practices. When asked about sustainable fashion she said, “Sustainable fashion is styling a single piece of clothing in different ways to look different. Investing in good and natural fabrics, donating clothes, and thrift shopping are great practices for beginners. At the same time, you know about the brands and their ethical practices and manufacturing habits to get a better understanding of sustainable fashion.”
Howrah Bridge is a small, yet known brand that sells affordable clothing for all needs. The fabrics are ethically sourced from indigenous weavers and, local artisans are encouraged to hand paint and design the cloth. That brand follows a strict no mass production rule; every piece of clothing is carefully stitched and finished for greater comfort. As a small business owner and designer, she designs all the clothes and works alongside her employees to make sure the final product is 100% ethical and sustainable.
Like any other small business, the brand suffered during the pandemic and lockdowns. During that time, Anupriya and her team worked on home décor essentials like curtains, cushion covers, and table cloths. The business initially was promoted with word of mouth that then moved on to Instagram. Since the whole world went digital during the lockdown, Howrah Bridge launched their official website in 2020.
According to Anupriya, the name ‘Howrah Bridge’ signifies how her brand acts as a bridge between traditional and contemporary clothing. The majority of her clothes have indie designs or prints on contemporary silhouettes.
Lastly, when asked about how to promote the concept of sustainable fashion among today’s youth and teens she said, “The shift in paradigm from fast fashion to sustainable fashion among teens and youth could be achieved only when their social media icons and influencers support and promote the idea. Fast fashion is not just exploiting the environment, but also young minds who fall prey to the bandwagon of trends on media.”