I bought my first pair of jeans in 8 grade. Up until this point, My mom always made my clothes and at 13, I felt like an outcast at school in my handmade dresses and wanted nothing more than to be a part of the crowd in their jeans and tees.

I remember going out shopping to get them, My first pair of jeans.

My first pair of jeans were torn and flared at the bottom. It was right on trend and looking back now, I still remember the excitement I felt taking it back home. Of course I was too embarrassed to share this with any of my friends because everyone I knew already had at least 3 pairs of their own but I smiled to myself a little extra when I wore them to school the next day. I felt accepted. I felt 'cool'.

If a piece of clothing had the power to affect my emotions that greatly at 13, imagine what it does to me now.

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Fast forward 21 years, I'm fresh out of Fashion College and pushed into Auroville, a sustainable living community with a job in conscious fashion. It was there, as a fresh graduate that I was part of conversations revealing the ‘true cost’ of what I choose to wear. I got to be a part of circles that were brutally honest about the fast fashion industry.

Imagine feeling so strongly about fashion all your life and suddenly none of it is glamorous or making sense the way it used to. At 21, I came face to face with the ugly side of fashion.

I’ll put it this way - simply put, fashion is a form of self expression, it’s about feeling good in what you wear. The clothes you choose are the ones that make you feel good about yourself. At 13, those jeans felt like a hug of acceptance - of feeling understood. It sure as hell made me feel so much better about myself. At 24, those jeans are so much more.

Your everyday denims are hurting the environment in ways you haven’t opened your eyes to. To put things in perspective - 2 billion pairs of jeans are made every year. They use 2 million tonnes of chemicals in the process plus 2,630 litres of water per individual pair of jeans AND approximately 1.4million tonnes of raw cotton. Add on chemical-laden synthetic dyes, a huge washing and rinsing cycle and a finishing process using more chemicals, stones and finishing (like sanding to create holes and faded patches) which is often done by hand by workers without masks, exploiting workers health and rights in the process.

Many steps in the denim manufacturing process pose significant risks to worker’s safety. Reports have shown that the dye residue often ends up in our waterways, sometimes on the skin and in the lungs of factory workers and it could also be embedded in the denim you are wearing right now. Everybody is careful about shopping for skincare but what about the jeans that rub up against your legs? Most denim is dyed with synthetic indigo which includes cyanide, formaldehyde and sometimes aniline - all of which are potentially harmful to human health. 

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So yes, to sum up, your everyday denims don't care about the environment, nor does it care about you, quite frankly.

Doesn't care about you or the less privileged garment workers making them. Almost all your fast fashion clothes are made by cheap labor factories in poor Asian countries. These garment workers (in Bangladesh for example) put their lives in danger and work in unethical working conditions only to be paid around a mere 300 rupees for a whole days work. 300! And that’s for the clothes that cost you at least Rs 2,000.

Don't even get me started on the clothes that cost less than a grande coffee at starbucks.

Personally, that was the game changer for me. No piece of clothing is worth more than a human life.

If fashion has such a big impact on me and you. That impact can be used for good. Cause with big power comes big responsibility, doesn't it?

That's when sustainable fashion came in. Call it sustainable, conscious or slow fashion. Call it whatever you want, but it is choosing to care. Care about the environment, about the people involved in making it, care about YOU.  

Look at it this way - When you know where your clothes came from, that it was hand-woven or made by somebody that was adequately paid for their services, you already feel a sense of pride in supporting the cause. At 13, those denims made me feel self assured and at 24, there’s nothing I pride myself more with than my handmade dress.

Life’s always a full circle, ain’t it?