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Fashion
May 22, 2019

Thoughtfully Designed Clothing Hang-Tags Are Becoming Narratives Of Sustainability

Text by Rushmika Banerjee

A look at homegrown labels that are narrating the brand’s story to their core consumer through fine extras

What’s the first thing you notice in an outfit?

Colour? Print? Silhouette?

My eyes directly go to the price tag (no surprises there!) and then they move to the hang-tag, which often tells an interesting tale of how the outfit was made. If weaves constitute the soul of the garment, then hang-tags are its identity – the brainchild of innovators who want to communicate their vision to a like-minded community.

The signature of a brand today goes beyond its garment-construction aesthetics. It’s being translated into the label’s communication via innovative hang-tags and care labels. These are the tangible extras that finish a garment and often take us through the journey of an ensemble. In the sea of mass-produced clothes, a hang-tag adds value to the garment. It differentiates a Sabyasachi from an Anita Dongre design (although the aesthetic gap there is slowly diminishing but that’s for another story) and details the defining characteristics of a product. The most widely encountered design would be the handcrafted heart that dangles with every péro creation. Fun fact: Along with the heart made from fabric scraps, the label also has the date of the brand’s inception stamped on every tag. Don’t forget to give a shout-out the next time you spot it. Each product by the label 11.11/eleven eleven comes with a unique product code which can be tracked back to the beginning — where the cotton came from, who the spinners and weavers were, who dyed the fabric and who stitched it.

It might be a small, inconspicuous detail, but a hang-tag is instrumental in reiterating a brand’s philosophy. A world that is slowly making conscientious efforts to move towards a sustainable future and circular supply chains, hang-tags and care labels ensure that every garment gets its due credit. These modest details also go a long way to showcase how much a brand is invested in propelling its vision. Suki Dusanj-Lenz, Country Head of Fashion Revolution India, recalled an incident when she picked up a great outfit, however, the “Dry Clean Only” label on it put her off. Every discerning consumer is aware that conventional dry-cleaning is a big deterrent when it comes to treating a garment.

We look at Indian labels that take an out-of-the-box approach to present their brand’s narrative to the consumer.

The Loom Art

This Jaipur-based label started by Aarushi Kilawat believes in creating a platform for artisans and promoting the people who work behind-the-screen. Kilawat explains, “#WhoMadeYourClothes is a cause that we support by celebrating our skilled craftspeople and sharing their life stories through postcards.”Their hang-tags will guide you through a series of things such as the name of the garment, product code, fabric type, the name of the person who stitched it along with the embroiderer’s and weaver’s names. They also add minute details like finishing details and the inspiration behind the garment to narrate a story. Kilawat adds, “You may also find other details where we’re promoting ideas like Care for Earth, Fair Employment, Fair Trade and encouraging people to reuse and mend garments.” There’s more –  a bookmark as a giveaway that describes the production cycle, from weaving to packaging. The buyers also get packaging bags made of handwoven jute and a thank-you note made from seed paper, with a request to plant and grow.

Rias Jaipur

Another label from Jaipur, founded by Avishek Mandal, aims to not just sell but to also educate people on why they should buy sustainable, environment-friendly fashion. Rias Jaipur has been working with khadi and hand block-print since its inceptions. “We got our tags printed with the idea of passing on some knowledge to our customers. One side of the tag has The Wheel Of Fortune manifesto. It points out how khadi as a cloth benefits the society and holds a strong historical significance, while the other side has information on the hand block-printing,” says Mandal. Another insightful feature of their tag is the picture of their master artisan, under whose supervision the collection has been printed. Mandal explains, “They should also know that they are a major part of this change.” They also have another detail known as the garment tattoo, embroidered onto their garments. You can find it on the back of the collar, sometimes on the sleeves or the hemline. It reads Hathkargha in Devanagari, which means handloom.

Moborr

The label based out of Bangalore, was founded by Madhurima Tongia in her quest to minimise carbon footprint and supports a zero-waste philosophy throughout. “Handwoven, organic cotton textiles are the heroes in our quest along with small-scale production, natural dyes, coconut shell buttons and hangers made from waste wood logs and bamboo sticks,” says Tongia. The hang-tags are made from recycled paper and the product is sealed using plastic-free packaging. The carry bags are infused with herb seeds and the label encourages the shopper to grow their own kitchen garden after shopping with them. All organic cotton bags are hand block-printed by young adults with autism and are carefully placed in eco-friendly boxes for shipping. “We work with the Nav Prabhuthi Trust, which is based out of Bangalore. The Trust provides quality vocational skills training to individuals with special needs.  So, we get our carry bags hand block-printed in organic colours by them,” explains Tongia.

Little Things Studio

Founded by Ankita Srivastava, this Delhi-based label works with thoughtfully-sourced sustainable fabrics to create effortlessly chic clothes and accessories for women. Comfort and ease are the two pillars of the brand’s aesthetic, which is reflected well in its packaging. “We make sure that that the packaging done at our studio is free from plastic. Everything is wrapped in parchment paper and tied with a paper yarn and cotton tape is used for care labels to ensure comfort. We are definitely working towards using more eco-friendly options in future. We also send a thank you card to the customers with handmade illustrations and a message supporting their conscious effort towards sustainable fashion,” says Srivastava.

Taaka

The Bengaluru-based label‘s easy-to-slip-into silhouettes come with quirky extras. Talking about the packaging process in detail, founder Natasha Tyagi Sachdeva says, “Each Taaka garment comes inside fine muslin bags. The tags come with handmade red tassels, which are made by our artisans using spare threads. We love having something to read, so why not add a few words of love and kindness onto the clothing itself? Tucked in discreet corners, one will find words on our clothes that spread the message of slow clothing for the earth.” Along with this, Sachdeva also sends out handwritten notes with online orders, thanking the customer for choosing conscious clothing.

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