Sustainable Fashion What does Ethical Fashion mean? Meet Oorja

Hello lovelies, it’s time to introduce you to the second ethical fashion blogger of our serie. I hope you enjoyed reading our latest interview with Rosa and that you understood her ethical fashion vision. Did it resonate with your own values?

To deeper your understanding, nothing is as good as confronting ideas and opinions. This is why, I also discussed with Oorja, to understand her conceptions of ethical fashion and to share it with you. I am 100% sure that you will be interested in her thoughts because I was. Keep reading to discover why that interview in particular grabbed my attention. Stay focus and see if you can find applicable concepts to your own sustainable goals!

1) Introduce yourself in a few words.

I’m an ethical fashion blogger from Bombay, India. I blog full time, along with my work as a fashion designer. I have a particular penchant for uplifting, promoting and bringing forth handmade textiles endemic to my culture into the sustainable fashion narrative! Making sustainable style easy and relatable is my goal – and most importantly even for those who do not have the same aesthetic as me!

2) What does ethical/sustainable fashion means to you?

In a nutshell, I think it means integrating fashion (a major reflection of our lifestyle) with being a good person! Ethical fashion shouldn’t be a niche, offbeat or value signalling look-how-woke-I-am practice. I believe that everybody with a conscience, a sense of compassion and the minimum amount of intellectual capability has the potential to be sensitive towards the urgent need for ethical fashion – like it’s common sense!

3) According to you, what is the main aspect of that movement and what should we fight for as a priority?

Personally, I have been fed a misleading narrative right from design school up until now that ethical fashion is only of the expensive, artisanal, luxurious or slow made kind. Yes, slow made and indigenous is my personal aesthetic, but it definitely isn’t the only aesthetic to subscribe to. I’ve come to realize that the main aspect is how it works, not how it looks – and we focus way too much on the latter. How businesses work, how the supply chain can either abuse or empower workers, these are the things we need to be addressing. It took me a long unlearning curve, and I now recognize this mentality to be a huge obstacle for those who cannot afford or align with a specific ‘type’ of ethical fashion. Eurocentric ethical feeds have developed a stereotypical reputation of ‘earthy, minimalist, antifit’ in terms of colour palette, fits and silhouettes; in the same way ethical fashion in India has a typecast image of ‘kitschy, tribal, eclectic and colourful.’

We need to reconstruct and rebrand ethical fashion narrative as it’s true nature is – a fluid and holistic lifestyle practice; not just another mode of consumption, a fancy aspirational wardrobe or an aesthetic one must fit into. We need to make ethical fashion relatable, normal and impactful as a way of living, buying and being that anybody can incorporate into their lives and that everybody around the globe will benefit from.

4) When did you start changing your shopping habits?

I started changing my habits back in 2014 when I saw ‘The True Cost’ for the first time, combined with an awareness of minimalism as a lifestyle practice and how most of my ‘needs’ are actually just ‘wants.’ It really hit me how where I spend my money is truly dictating how the world functions, and I did not want to cast a vote for abuse and modern slavery.

5) How is your closet at the moment?

My closet is a mix of three categories – handed down or secondhand, slow made artisanal, and fast fashion that I try my best to make last from the years before I turned sustainable. I have greatly reduced my compulsive habit of constantly shopping whatever catches my fancy, although I must admit that as an ethical influencer I always have one or two garments a month coming in as sponsored gifts which makes it easier for me than an average person minimizing their shopping. For me, thrifting and swapping isn’t easily accessible because these movements are at a very nascent stage where I live so i make do with hand-me-downs. When I purchase, which is once in a long while, I make sure to only invest in high quality handmade or handwoven pieces from truly fair fashion brands that support the artisanal heritage of my country.

6) If you had to give an advice to someone who want to start changing its shopping habit what would it be?

Buy less, invest in quality more is the key. That one slow made or fair trade dress is better than five fast fashion tee shirts. My best advice is to explore thrifting, secondhand, borrowing, and swapping if you have access to it – and if you really do want to buy something, try to think of at least three ways you can style it on the spot. If you can’t, it is not a versatile long lasting piece. Here’s a practice I frequently use – I keep a list of all my tops (for example) maintained on my smartphone. When I see a cute pant or skirt I fall in love with, I checklist it against this list to see if it’s a truly valuable wardrobe addition and how many times I will rewear it. Is it giving me a serious bang for my buck? If it’s the kind of thing that can only create two outfits in my current wardrobe and requires me to buy more kinds of tops just to have something to match it with, I know straightaway to ditch this consumerism trap.

So how did you like Oorja’s definition of Ethical Fashion? Is her conception similar to yours? Does it inspire you? Let us know in a comment and do not forget to give her a follow on insta. I LOVE her! @oorja.revivestyle