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Fashion with Heart: Indian Brands & Designers Making a Difference

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

In the world of fashion, there's a growing movement that goes beyond looking good - it's about doing good. Indian fashion brands are embracing the power of philanthropy, stepping up to address critical social issues and create a positive impact on society.

Fashion with Heart: Indian Brands & Designers Making a Difference

From supporting education and empowering artisans to champion environmental causes, these brands are making a remarkable difference through their philanthropic efforts. Let's dive into the inspiring stories of these compassionate fashion labels and explore the profound impact they're making on the lives of people and the planet.


Fashion with a Purpose: How Indian Brands & Designers Are Giving Back


Without any further adieu, let’s discuss the philanthropic efforts of certain designers, highlighting their noteworthy contributions to society


Anita Dongre

Anita Dongre and Grassroot Artisans
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

A leading sustainable fashion designer, Anita Dongre's brand is committed to empowering artisans and supporting rural communities. Her "Grassroot" initiative promotes traditional Indian crafts and provides employment opportunities for skilled artisans, preserving cultural heritage.

Anita Dongre and Grassroot artisan woman
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Anita Dongre has established herself as one of the top bridal designers which has taken her from India to New York. Grassroot is following a new path in the season-driven fashion industry. Depending on the availability of craftsmen with the necessary abilities, pieces and designs are produced. Instead of the seasonal demand of the quick fashion business, the collections are issued based on the talent that is available. Grassroot firmly positions itself as a slow fashion brand that values meticulous craftsmanship, endurance, love, and patience.

Anita Dongre's philanthropic effort in Grassroot
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

The company collaborates with the Self Employed Women's Association to support women who want to work and earn money without moving from their villages to cities. Women who handcraft and put their hearts into each item that adorns the shelves of Grassroot shops receive employment and self-reliance as a result.


Bora Studio

Bora Studio founder Meena Gurung
Image Courtesy: Times of India

Meena Gurung started Bora Studio, a slow-fashion, green-design apparel line, in Nepal. Gurung creates the collections by upcycling jute sacks, which are known as "Bora" in Nepalese. Jute bags are reused several times and are 100 percent biodegradable, from a farmer spreading seeds in his fields to harvesting the crops and selling the produce. Jute sacks are ubiquitous in Nepali homes, and they are always lying about in various locations. According to Gurung, "I wanted my clothing to be a medium for inspiring people, adopting sustainability, and being nature-friendly."

Through participatory natural dyeing training workshops, Gurung has been working with local indigenous communities all throughout Nepal for the past three years to raise awareness of the advantages of natural dyeing and the sustainable decisions that each of us can make on a personal level. Recently, Bora Studio collaborated with the "Sardar" population, an indigenous group living in and around the Koshi Tappu wetland region in Koshi Tappu, Sunsari, Eastern Nepal.

Due to an invasive species of water hyacinth that is encroaching on their property and posing a serious threat to the river ecosystems, the local community is dealing with a significant dilemma. They have taught women how to utilize water hyacinths to make a fabric that can be woven into mats, purses, and curtains. Given that it is extremely rich in nitrogen, which increases the output of products, it may also be used as a natural fertilizer for their farm fields.


Raghavendra Rathore

Raghavendra Rathore , traditional menswear designer in India
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

Indian menswear designer Rathore launched NFTs, digital assets using blockchain technology, in association with Fashion Design Council of India x Lakme Fashion Week. The NFTs aim to raise awareness about the Raghavendra Rathore Foundation and all proceeds will be used for the NGO. The first of the set sold out 10 minutes after the launch.

Raghavendra Rathore's NFTs
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

Newly minted tokens (NFTs) are being introduced by Rathore, a renowned artist and designer, to combat copyright issues. The NFTs, which combine traditional iconography, Rathore's branding, and animated elements, offer a new income stream for artists and designers while allowing fans to own a unique digital asset. This innovative approach addresses the issue of unlimited reproduction and diminishing the value of art.


Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika

Papa Don't Preach by Shubhika
Image Courtesy: WeddingSutra

Papa Don't Preach, a high-end apparel and accessory brand started by Mumbai-based designer Shubhika Davda, held a "Buy to Give" relief sale to help the COVID-19-affected families on its website. The firm was giving consumers a 15% discount on all apparel, handbags, and footwear throughout the month of May, and 20% of sales were donated to charitable organizations including Hemkunt Foundation, Mission Oxygen India, MCKS Food for the Hungry, and Srujna Charitable Trust.


Bhaavya Goenka

Bhaavya Goenka, the founder of IRO IRO
Image Courtesy: IICD

Why did something as pure and natural as clothing and fashion have to be so polluting and bad for the environment, Bhaavya Goenka's initial thought when she began her brand IRO IRO. Her response was to start a company that employs hand-woven fabrics that are lovingly and carefully made from abandoned textiles by weavers from a hamlet close to Jaipur, India. Every completed IRO IRO product signifies the resuscitation of a vanishing craft heritage, and everyone that is sold helps a family of weavers pursue a career that they are enthusiastic about.

Iro Iro collaborates with other businesses to upcycle their waste into textiles for fashion and interiors, providing work for 20 artisans based in a village near Jaipur, thanks to Goenka's expertise in the reuse and upcycling of industrial textile waste through indigenous craft practices of India. Goenka declares, "Our ongoing drive is to reinvent the fashion-making system and not only restrict our creativity to the product. "We want to create fashion that distributes success along its value chain by starting with a system that shares its losses rather than its profits.


Sabyasachi

Sabyasachi Mukherjee, a fashion designer, has collaborated with the CITTA organization and Michael Daube, an American artist, to create uniforms for students at Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School in Jaisalmer. The blue-maroon Ajrakh uniforms made using Ajrakh textiles, natural dyes, and block printing, feature three-fourth sleeves, buttons, pockets, and elastic waistbands for comfort and beauty. The initiative aims to provide opportunities for young girls.

Daube's dream of improving women's education has been realized with the help of New York-based architect Diana Kellogg. Kellogg designed the Gyaan Centre, using local sandstone and Rajasthan's famous fort walls. The design is contemporary and reflects tradition and landscape, with a sweeping scale. The school will have craftspeople teaching weaving and printing to pupils' mothers, elder sisters, and aunts, who want to earn a livelihood. A "marketplace" will display crafts for sale to tourists, who would visit before the pandemic.

School uniform designed by Sabyasachi
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

The designer, Mukherjee, has designed school uniforms using Ajrakh, a traditional handblock technique originating from Rajasthan, produced by a cooperative center. The uniforms, which are designed to be graded across all sizes and offer a comfortable fit, are designed to be slightly oversized for growing children to wear for at least two or three years in school.


The Ajrakh is a powerful style that helps children understand the importance of local heritage and sustains regional crafts. The utilization of Ajrakh not only fosters an appreciation for local heritage among children but also imparts valuable knowledge to the newer generation, thereby ensuring the preservation of this craft for generations to come


The designer believes that using Ajrakh in school uniforms can create a platform for cultural exchange and economic stability in backward communities. The collaboration between CITTA and Mukherjee may lead to a trend where school uniforms reflect local culture by incorporating the workmanship of local craft. This approach to Indian clothing is seen as a way to preserve and promote local heritage and culture.


The Animal Ball

The Animal Ball, a fundraising event held in London on June 19, celebrates the endangered wildlife of Asia. The Elephant Family initiative aims to protect Asian elephants and their natural habitat. 24 fashion houses and labels participated, raising awareness for animal conservation. India's couturiers Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Anita Dongre, and Gaurav Gupta represented India, each designing animal-themed masks for the event.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee created the masks worn by The Prince and The Duchess. The designer used the Royal Bengal Tiger, his favorite animal and the symbol for his business, as inspiration for his mask. Anita Dongre's wonderfully crafted mask honored the mighty elephant, the symbol of her fashion brand, and included elements that were evocative of her bridal lehengas. Gaurav Gupta designed a stunning Humming Bird headgear, replete with eye-catching birds and shimmering feathers, which served as a representation of joy and optimism.

An elephant sculpture made by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee is evocative of Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree and the Sundarbans' groves. As part of the Elephant Parade, which is being organized by Elephant Family, an NGO devoted to saving endangered Asian elephants, the sculpture is one of 101 elephant sculptures that will be on exhibit around India until March 2018. The exhibition seeks to generate money to protect 101 elephant corridors across India, which run the risk of having their habitats fragmented and their populations displaced.

The Elephant Family produced Elephant Parade India, which is being billed as India's greatest public art event, to bring awareness to the condition of the endangered Asian elephant, whose numbers have decreased by 90% in the previous 100 years.

Famous Indian artists and fashion designers, such as Subodh Gupta, Gaurav Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Jogen Chowdhury, Riyas Komu, Tarun Tahiliani, and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, together with top creatives from the UK, painted each elephant.


Beyond profit margins, today’s fashion brands and designers measure their achievements by the positive impact they create in the lives of everyone. By engaging in philanthropic efforts, these brands inspire customers to be agents of change, turning each purchase into an opportunity to make a difference.


Let's join hands and celebrate these compassionate fashion labels that are driving social change and sustainable practices. WNW requests you to come forward and support their initiatives and foster a fashion ecosystem that is inclusive, responsible, and kind to both people and the environment.



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