Green Fashion: 8 Places To Pick Up Sustainable Clothing In Kolkata
Do you remember the Rana Plaza disaster on April 24 2013? It occurred in Bangladesh when more than 1,130 people died after the factory building in which they were working collapsed. The disaster started the Fashion Revolution and it has grown into the world’s largest global fashion activism movement.
In the age of chain stores selling clothing mostly made of fabrics which can potentially be harmful to the environment, these places in Kolkata are going for a people and planet-friendly alternative.
Sasha — the fair trade store near New Market – has been around since 1981 and is one of the first fair trade shops in India. Their clothing range has pure cotton and linen tops in vegetable dyes and the best of Indian handmade prints and weaves. There’s a lot you can pick up here. Their range of paper mâché boxes make for great gifts — they have a few heart-shaped ones. Also look out for the piggy banks made with Shantiniketan leather. We especially loved the bags, stoles, jewellery and the range of handmade soaps. And it’s all very reasonably priced.
They have a cosy corner with cane furniture where you can sit and sip on homemade cookies, tea and coffee. They close early on Sundays – at 1pm between April through August. Normal hours resume on Sundays between September through March.
Located in Hindustan Park, it is the go-to store for handloom. They have a wide range of shirts, kurtas, scarves, tops, kaftans and saris. They also sell silver jewellery , accessories and books. Byloom also has fabric with quirky prints which are available for around INR 250 per metre.
Meghna Nayak’s LataSita uses vintage sarees to create offbeat, bespoke ensembles. It is her mission to counter the sweatshop culture the fashion industry. If you or mom have any sarees that you want to re-fashion, head here. She also stocks readymades. I like that she recycles all scrap cloth or donates them to Goonj, an NGO that makes sanitary napkins for underprivileged women.
At a loss about what gifts to buy for someone’s birthday or wedding? Looking for good quality handloom fabrics for dresses or home furnishings? Or a perfect saree to wear to a wedding? Head over to Kamala, the shop inside ICCR on Ho Chi Minh Sarani. It stocks a huge range of curated clothes, stoles, handicrafts and accessories from all over India. The shop itself is not that big but the range of things you can find here, you will find it difficult to pick up anywhere else.
Opened in 2009, this space is an outlet by the Crafts Council of India. Kamala buys their goods straight from the artisans. making sure they maintain a profit margin and sells them in big cities.
Deshaj is a celebration of Indian handicrafts and textiles. Walk in and it’s a medley of colors and quirk. Musical instruments are stacked on the floor, racks are stacked with lac toys from Midnapore, and Dokra and clay toys from Bankura, handmade jewellery made by women from Bolpur villages get a separate section. Madhubani and Kalamkari paintings, palm leaf patachitra scrolls, Chhau masks, ceramic and wooden boxes, leather lampshades —there’s something here for everyone. You are sure to find something unusual to get someone special. They’ve got a separate section of apparels — saris, dresses, kurtis, stoles and shirts. Once you are done shopping, take a seat at the attached cafe. They have free WiFi — you can get comfortable with a book or a cup of tea.
The State Emporiums At Dakhinapan
Located in Dhakuria, this shopping complex houses all the state emporiums and the goodies from those areas. The MP-government’s Mrignayani specialises in Chanderi, Maheshwari, cotton, kosa, georgette and chiffon. Boyanika from Odisha stocks the most gorgeous ikkats at INR 281 and upwards. The kalamkaris and single color cottons with gold borders are what you should pick up at LePakshi (the Andhra emporium). And the block printed cottons at Gurjari and Rajasthali will give you a ’90s-wala Dilli college girl look.
Located on the first floor of Dakhinapan shopping complex, this store offers a wide range of fusion wear. The dresses, tops, shirts come in a range of quirky and traditional handprinted varieties. The designs are fun, colorful and can be mixed and matched and worn for casual and formal occasions.
I particularly like their collection of tops and shirts with quirky and eccentric designs. They have an accessory section where they sell notebooks, bags, lamps and silver jewellery. The price range for their clothes starts at INR 350 onwards.
Sienna has three stores all over the city, one in Jodhpur Park, one in Hindustan Park and the other in Salt Lake. Their kantha and kalamkari jumpsuits are are slightly androgynous in their cut and beautifully printed. Their skirts and trousers are bright, fun and colourful. Some of the sarees are excuisitely embroidered and handcrafted. They also sell stunning blue ceramics and jewellery.
Millions of people make our clothes. Too many live in poverty, exploitation or danger. We can change that. Join the #FashionRevolution and demand a fair, safe and more transparent industry. Ask brands #whomademyclothes?