Sustainable fashion: From a fish-skin bag to clothes made from hemp

The only way to ensure that a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle becomes mainstream is to back it up with quality products, believes Anu Tandon Vieira of Mumbai-based startup The Retyrement Plan. Here's a look at brands that espouse a sustainable lifestyle through products that stem from a strong design philosophy:

What the fish


After spending a few years building private jets as an engineer, when Solapur's Mayura Davda-Shah wanted to launch a sustainable fashion brand, she chose to do it with fish leather, usually treated as discard in the industry. The fish for Davda-Shah's brand, MAYU, is reared on farms in Ireland. "Whatever remains after the processing houses are done filleting and packaging the fish is then converted into fish leather which is then tanned using vegetable dyes," she says. She is also experimenting with a "vegan line" using material like pineapple fibre, mushroom and coconut husks. MAYU's card cases cost Rs 7,000 while the wallet and chain bags go for Rs 35,000.

Where: Visit

Wax works 


The clingy cling-film continues to be the near-invisible plastic villain in kitchens. Enter Hoopoe on a Hill, a Kodaikanal-based startup that found oodles of beeswax as a by-product of the organic honey-collecting exercise. Besides making edible crayons made from beeswax, the startup has also found a way to eliminate the need for single-use cling-film used to preserve food, says co-founder Priyashri Mani. A box of three reusable beeswax wraps, which come in designs as varied as cats, flowers and crabs -- almost too attractive to use -- is priced at Rs 440.

Where: Amazon, or at 

Fashion high


In 2016, archaeologists confirmed that the Ellora Caves had withstood the test of time for 1,500 years (and counting) thanks to the hemp mixed into the clay and lime plaster. But durability isn't the only reason to go shopping for hemp apparel from B-Label, Bombay Hemp Company's sustainable clothing line. Hemp, which is fibre extracted from the cannabis plant, is stronger and more breathable than cotton; it also requires 400 times less water than cotton to make. Hemp fabric is also known to get softer with every wash. Prices range between Rs 890 and Rs 3,490.

Where: The People Tree stores in Delhi or Goa, or online at 

Fair ground 


After building a market for handmade rugs and carpets among luxury hotel chains and premium private residences with opulent attractions such as Swarovski crystals, Delhi-based Rashi Bajaj has been experimenting with alternative materials such as scraps of various materials, and also recycled plastic from PET bottles. "We had to make sure it doesn't feel like plastic and was low-energy intensive," says Bajaj. Only a couple of months in and these "plastic" rugs are already a hit in international markets, particularly in Singapore's resorts. Priced at about Rs 350 per square feet.

Where: Carpet Couture in Ghitorini, Delhi, or visit   

Treading carefully 


For colourful and customised interiors, The Retyrement Plan has been working with industrial cast-offs such as tyres and plastic wrappers. These are then built into frames crafted out of cane and bamboo by artisans. "People are willing to pay for craftsmanship and design, and not just the USP of a product made from waste," says the company's Mumbai-based founder Anu Tandon Vieira. While prices start at Rs 3,500, the teepee swing is priced at Rs 40,000.

Where: Find them on Facebook @TheRetyrementPlan   

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