Being fashionable is easier today than ever. Companies produce clothing at an alarmingly fast rate for little cost to the consumer. The traditional four season cycle of fashion has expanded to new fashion lines being released monthly, giving rise to the fast fashion industry.
How can clothing be so cheap and readily available? Well, like all things, nothing comes without a cost, and while consumers of fast fashion may not see this cost in stores, there is growing concern and awareness of unethical practices in the mainstream fashion industry. This is where the Free the Slaves Fashion for Freedom Campaign comes in, raising awareness of issues in the industry and alternative ethical fashion practices.
Saloni Shrestha’s fashion designs are both aesthetically pleasing and ethically produced. Saloni is the co-founder and designer at AGAATI, a sustainable ethically conscious fashion brand.
AGAATI has a zero-waste philosophy, trying to maximize the use of all materials. The company creates clothing lines that are limited editions. Shrestha says that she and others at AGAATI work hard to ensure their products are ethically sourced and produced. Shrestha herself sources her materials and manufacturers ensuring that the makers of her garments are treated fairly and that the environmental impact of the garments will be minimal.
“I love being out in the field,” Shrestha says. She travels to both India and Nepal and works with artisans to ensure those making her designs are paid a fair wage and treated fairly. She works a lot with female artisans and garment workers, finding it essential to emphasize female empowerment.
Shrestha also believes it is important to be environmentally conscious. AGAATI uses natural sourcing of all its fibers. They use non-toxic dyes, aim for zero plastic use, and manually attempt to reduce waste. Shrestha says that she works to reuse fabrics within her fashion lines and gives away any unused fabrics to companies such as one that uses the fabric to stuff pillows.
Shrestha says that her designs try to “inspire sustainable lifestyle, with design at the core of it.”
Shrestha says she has always loved fashion and design. As a kid, Shrestha recalls that she loved designing for others and herself. She is a native of the Himalayas and says her upbringing inspires her. She remembers the “pure air, not really sure what pollution was, and beautiful culture.” She lived in an environment that valued the importance of the environment and human life. These considerations stayed with Shrestha into her adult life.
Shrestha says that in her designs “you will see nature, culture, and people.” She says that her work and how her work is produced are representations of how people coexist with nature, how there can be harmony.
Shrestha and AGAATI work to counter excessive consumerism and waste. They encourage consumers to stop buying fast fashion and be more sustainable. Shrestha wants consumers to “be curious about ethical fashion” and learn more about it.
This is one reason AGAATI has decided to team up with Free the Slaves and help sponsor our 2018 summerlong Fashion for Freedom event and campaign.
“Dollars create impact,” Shrestha says. “Clothing that costs $10 is cheap clothing, you could wear 200 different pieces of clothing every year, but there is a greater cost to this – the human and environmental costs.”
Learn more about AGAATI and Shrestha’s work here.
Learn more about the Free the Slaves Fashion for Freedom event and campaign here.
John Deckers is currently a student at The Catholic University of America, studying media and communications as well as politics. His interests include LGBTQ rights, human rights, and media polarization. John graduates in May 2019.