What to Look for in Eco-Friendly Clothing Brands

Raise your hand if you’ve wanted to buy from eco-friendly brands in India but don’t know what to look for. 🙌

It’s a common problem because there are just so many brands out there that claim to make environmentally-friendly clothes. For those who strive to be environmentally conscious, purchasing from eco clothing brands means a lot more than a new set of clothes– it means throwing your hat in for the values they support and the processes they follow.

Today, plenty of brands have been accused of ‘greenwashing’, which essentially means appearing eco-friendly on the outside but not being so on the inside. Here’s how to sidestep that minefield and support ethical fashion labels and good clothing brands that are truly eco-friendly, inside and out.

Stake Out Their Claims

If you’ve seen a brand that has some sort of eco-friendly descriptor on their labels or advertising, stake that claim out. The brand website is a good place to start; navigate through to see if the brand has a similar claim on any page, if it’s more detailed or just as vague and if they have any evidence backing their claim.

Honest brands of clothing will almost always highlight what they’re doing for the environment because it’s probably their USP. Be wary of iffy words such as ‘green’ or ‘all-natural’ because they’re vague enough to pass cursory glances but don’t necessarily mean the brand is entirely eco-friendly.

Pay Attention to What The Founders Say

A lot of brands have had a PR crisis on their hands because the founders put their foot in their mouth. A most recent example is that of H&M. In essence, the brand’s former CEO Karl-Johan Persson said in a Bloomberg interview that slowing down consumption and flying (both direct influencers of climate change) will have “terrible social consequences”.

This statement was a bit off-kilter from H&M’s newer initiatives, including garment-collecting at stores and being transparent about product backgrounds. If you ever spot such misalignment in messaging, it’s best to step back and wonder if the brand is worth supporting.

Look At How Transparent the Supply Chain Is

If you’re really wondering if a brand is as eco-friendly as they claim, their supply chain might have answers. Documentation of where the product was made, what fabrics were used, who made them and how much they were paid are all important factors to holding brands accountable. If a sizeable chunk of these is made accessible to the public, even better– it indicates that the brand has nothing to hide.

Before you support a brand, see if you can find out how transparent their production processes are.

Nicobar, for example, honestly outlines their choices in material, labour and packaging, building a trustworthy brand in the process.

Look for Certifications… Or Ask For Them

An excellent way to judge just how eco-friendly a brand is is to look at their certifications. While India doesn’t have organisations that authenticate an entire brand, you can still look for product certifications for that third-party judgement. Global Organic Textile Standard, for example, is a certification that applies to textile processing and manufacturing. The National Programme for Organic Production in India applies to organic cotton, while the Global Recycle Standard verifies the authenticity of recycled parts in products.

If any product copy has ‘certified’, prick your ears up– if there’s no organisation or standard name following it, then there’s no guarantee it’s actually certified. Don't be afraid to send out an email questioning this claim. It gives the brand the benefit of the doubt and, if they reply vaguely or not at all, you have your answer.

P.S. If brands don’t have certifications, but don’t claim to, either, it’s up to you to make a purchase. Getting certifications is a long-drawn process; some homegrown hands may not have the money or the reach to obtain such certifications.

The next time you type “eco-friendly clothing India” into your search engine, keep these pointers in mind, and you’ll spot the real gems in good time.

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