BENGALURU: Bengaluru’s conscious initiative on sustainability in the space of environment and F&B has attracted the fashion industry now. The IT city is the new hub for the farm-to-fashion movement. Bengalureans are first in the country to champion the cause of zero-waste design philosophy, handloom, organic fabrics and natural dyes from plants, say fashion designers. They are, thus, readily opening dedicated boutique spaces and curating sustainable trunk shows here now.
Take the case of Udaipur-based design label Aavaran near Ulsoor Lake which chose Bengaluru for its first boutique space outside Rajasthan to house both their apparel and accessory collections. Dedicated to the cause of reviving heritage craft like dabu or mud-resist hand block printing on Indian wear to devising an ayurvastra line of clothing treated with healing turmeric, alum and manjistha, the label works with rural communities of southern Rajasthan.
“Bengalureans have respect for craft. They are open to learning new life skills. Educating them about healing properties of naturally-dyed garments and ethicallygrown fabrics like khadi, mulberry silk and organic cotton is easier than label-conscious metros of India,” says founder and textile designer Alka Sharma.
According to Deepa Reddy, owner of multi-designer store The Open Trunk in Koramangala, the drift towards eco-fashion in Bengaluru has grown aggressively in the past 1.5 years. “Since sustainable fashion is labour-intensive, it is difficult to make it affordable. However, we have grown from stocking two to five eco-friendly brands in the last three years,” says Reddy.
Again, there is a sudden spike in the number of sustainable fashion pop-ups this year. Rosemary Jacob of The Handcrafted Edit popup at The Olive Beach, is one such curator. She has been hosting pop-ups across South India featuring products like scrap-metal jewellery and handwoven reversible dresses.
Jacob attributes her success in Bengaluru to its tech-savvy nature.
“Ecommerce bloom has given brands visibility. Online-crazy Bengalureans are becoming aware of home-grown brands that make eco-friendly garments in small batches unlike fast-fashion,” says Jacob, adding, “Bengalureans want to represent socio-culture in a modern way now. They want to make a difference and want their clothes to walk the talk too.”
According to Priya Jacob, a citybased ecofriendly kidswear designer, the startup culture here has proved beneficial for niche homegrown brands like hers.
She observes, “Startup movement in the last three years has changed the mindset of Bengaluru. It gave designers the encouragement to start new offbeat businesses. People too moved away from being luxury-brand conscious and now take note of boutique labels that narrate a different design story.”
Experts say that social-media craze of Bengaluru has also given niche brands traction. Textile revivalist Aanchal Sagar, who launched omnichannel handloom label Ohfab two years ago, agrees, “Bengalureans connect with me mostly through Facebook and Instagram. Unlike brand-conscious Delhi, Bengalureans like to hear the story behind a handloom saree or handmade embroidery. It’s the city’s inquisitive mindset that makes them the top market in India alongside Mumbai in this niche fashion segment.”