“No one in this world can be 100% sustainable! But, we can always make better choices!” says Saachi Bahl, sustainability consultant and founder of sustainable fashion brand Saahra and #ConsciousEffort, an annual design show that seeks to educate and engage people with sustainable fashion. “As one of the first circular fashion companies in the country in 2017 that was exclusively housing conscious fashion at its flagship store, Saahra, situated at The Suryaa Hotel in New Delhi, I realised I wanted to create a greater impact in the industry. For me, fashion is a passion but advocacy for conscious and better trade practices is my purpose.,” she says, “ People interested in meeting and learning from eminent changemakers, there are panel sessions and workshops to attend.
This year, we hosted Anita Dongre & Yash Dongre to share their journey on building a fashion empire with a sustainable ethos. Previously, we’ve hosted Rahul Mishra, Anju Modi, Bandana Tewari, and many others.”
Through her platform, Bahl has tried to change the perception of sustainable fashion being inaccessible and boring over the years, “Consumers realise that “sustainable fashion” means much more than the stereotypical image of an ill-fitted khadi outfit. They realise beautiful contemporary and stylish couture, ready-to-wear garments to homeware, and more can be constructed from recycled or new innovative biodegradable materials. This has had a spill-over benefit in empowering the makers.”
She realises that the sustainable fashion movement faces a lot of challenges on all fronts in the country. “Challenges vary for the consumer and the producer. Access to independent bodies to certify brands on sustainability is perhaps something that I believe will help bring more transparency in the industry,” she says, “On the consumer side, I feel the challenge is advocacy. We need to educate the customer far more. People trying to be more conscious need to realise that one size doesn’t fit all. There is no one-size fits all or 10 boxes to tick that confirm you are ‘sustainable’. I think people must realise that small changes can lead to big impact. That’s why educating the consumer is integral to the movement. For anyone starting their journey on mindful living, I always say - ‘Do the best you can and when you know better, do better.’”
So how does one build a stylish yet sustainable wardrobe? Bahl says the answer lies in asking as many questions you can about the clothes you’re buying. “I like to know what my outfit/ product is made of? Where was it made? Does the brand use recycled/ plastic-free packaging? Does the company offset its carbon footprint? It’s not a linear, but a circular approach.”
Practical Tips On How To Build A Sustainable And Stylish Wardrobe
There is so much you can do with a few key style pieces in your wardrobe if you style them differently each time. “Buy less and instead learn to restyle what you have!” says Bahl.
Look for quality
Bahl recommends investing in high-quality, timeless clothes. “You will get many wears and you can even pass them to others.”
Repeating is cool
There is no shame in repeating outfits. Kate Middleton does it and so should you. “Repeat this to yourself - ‘It’s cool to repeat my outfits!’ when you feel you have nothing to wear!” suggests Bahl.
Learn more about the label
The sustainability consultant asserts the importance of educating yourself on the labels you’re buying from before you make the big purchase. “Learn more about the fabric, ask whether the brand has any green certifications.”
Thrift shopping is the way to go
Thrifting is not just a fad, it should be a conscious lifestyle choice, says Bahl. “We recently had a collaboration with a pre-loved couture company on our website, that recycled preloved Dior & Furla bags!”