Once Upon a Cotton

In a special series of interviews, we introduce fashion innovators like Apurva Kothari. The founder of ‘No Nasties’, a Goa-based organic and fair-trade clothing brand, Kothari left the madding crowd in Mumbai to kick-off his social business.

His story

One of the country’s earliest fair-trade and organic clothing brands, NO NASTIES was conceptualized by Apurva Kothari in 2011. Born and raised in bustling Mumbai city, Kothari left a comfortable job in the USA to return home and kick-start the consumer movement for organic and fair-trade apparel in India. “We moved to Goa 3 years ago to get away from the hectic life of Mumbai, and replaced traffic with sunsets, pollution with beaches, stress with fresh air! We love it here!” says the 40-year old. A computer engineer by qualification, the former Mumbaikar shares the inspirations for his start-up “When I was in New York, I stumbled upon an article about the cotton farmer suicides in India. The numbers shocked me (250,000 suicides in 15 years and counting) and I started researching the reasons behind it and the possible solutions to this crisis. I knew I wanted to get involved somehow, but didn’t know what I could do. Gradually, over a period of five years, I finally decided to start No Nasties with the goal of creating a ‘consumer movement for ethical fashion in India’, which would help alleviate the challenges facing the farmers. I wanted urban India to address the problems facing rural Bharat.”

Why choose organic and fair trade

Fast fashion comes at a price. A deplorably high price paid by the environment and the cotton farmers. It is reported by the World Wildlife Fund that it takes 2700 gallons of water to make one cotton t-shirt. Cotton cultivation is both labor and pesticide intensive. Hence the cotton farmer suicides are among the highest in India. Kothari says, “Farming is tough. Really, really tough. If any of us city dwellers had to do it, we’d give up or be up in arms to ask for higher prices. It’s really unfortunate that the people at the bottom of the supply chain are the ones squeezed the most on pricing and are always below the poverty line. The people who grow our food cannot feed themselves. This is a huge injustice and one we can easily remedy by respecting their work and paying fair wages.” This is fair trade. The visionary adds, “Along with No Nasties, we have also started another initiative to bring awareness to the farmer crisis and especially for women farmers. The project is called ‘Once Upon A Doug’  and it’s a non-profit that gives women farmers in inner Maharashtra (the area that has the maximum number of suicides) a reliable, secondary income in addition to farming.”

No Nasties fashion

The brand offers a limited yet chic range of cotton shirts, tops, scarves, dresses and more for both women and men. Using only eco-friendly dyes and hand-printing, expect 4-5 different collections in a year. The cotton is deliciously soft, comfortable and if we needed any more reason to shop – the No Nasties’ cotton is extremely durable as well. We recommend the gorgeous maxi dresses for women and the colorful short-sleeved shirts for men.

We The Consumer

Sustainable fashion is the only way forward if we hope to rescue our planet from the ravages of industry and poaching, among other sins. Apurva and his hard-working team believe that change starts with the consumer. Once consumers are made aware of the situation, they hope to bring about change that will alleviate the lot of our farmers.  Brands like No Nasties allows us to indulge our sartorial pleasures whilst contributing to a greener, cleaner future and adding karma points!

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Shibi, like the song in ‘West Side Story’, is oh so pretty, witty and bright! Modest too, but we can discuss that later. A Chennai native (34) who now dwells in the capital, there is nothing she loves more than a good story. Except for a good handbag. A self-professed shopaholic with impeccable taste, the young women’s rights lawyer and mother was ‘discovered’ by an Indian Express editor in Chennai at a famous boutique eight years ago and she has not looked back since. Fashion writing allows her to combine her two greatest loves and Shibi has been published in The Hindu, the Indian Express, Femina, Scroll, Bodahub, Hi-Blitz Magazine and many more. A militant optimist, Shibi abhors armchair activism and suggests that everyone ‘Be the Change’ instead of complaining about Modiji. Or run for POTUS – anybody seems better qualified than Trump. She also loves animals and has orchestrated many a doggy/kitty rescue; her most fervent hope is to see the status and treatment of both animals and women improve in India and the world over. Also, she requests you to RECYCLE and to REUSE. Climate change is real, people. Jai Hind!