The story of my journey into eco-fashion underwear brand Mighty Good Undies, started with my visit to India in 2011. I wanted to go and see for myself what an ethical supply chain looked like and my research showed that India was the place to go.
So about a million phone and emails and calls later, I found myself sitting in some fields in central India listening to (mostly illiterate) farmers from the Chetna Organics Cooperative talking about growing organic crops. With lots of laughter and a patient translator.
It was only by listening to their stories did the cause of fighting for sustainable fashion came alive for me.
These people wanted to grow and sell organic cotton not because us wealthy westerners thought it was the height of urban cool, but because organic farming meant they didn’t get sick all the time.
I felt like an idiot. Organic cotton wasn’t just about the fact that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by half or reduces water demand, it was about real people and their real experiences. It dawned on me: “what if it was me getting sick at work?” Wouldn’t I want to change that?
And then the farmers added the kicker: many farmers wanted to join Chetna Organics but their ability to convert to organic cotton was limited by the demand for their product.
Later that day, I saw all the community health, education and economic development projects paid for by Chetan’s Fairtrade premium funds, and listened to Chetna organisers as they explained their projects to empower women in their communities and saw how fashion, done, well, has the power to transform lives.
Well I was hooked!
At that moment, I made a choice that I needed to find ways to grow markets for organic and Fairtrade cotton so that more farmers, and more workers in Chetna’s production partner Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills, can get the benefits of this alternative form of trade and production.
As environmentalists and feminists it is easy to focus on the negative stories of what is going on in the world -goodness knows there is many of them in the fashion industry. But is also important to realise that there are many good news stories as well, with good people working hard to change the industry for the better. My brand Mighty Good, sourcing from Chetan Organics and Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills are trying to do just that.