This blog was written by Srishti Kapoor and was originally posted on Apparel Resources in March 2023.
Consumers of today are embracing an eco-conscious fashion aesthetic in which organic textiles continue to capture a larger share of the market and are experiencing a surge in popularity in India at the moment.
With sustainable raw materials in their product line such as organic cotton, sustainable marketplaces are truly sustainable adhering to 100 per cent ethical sourcing, following sustainable practices in their daily activities (even in packaging and shipment), fair trade, zero waste, local sourcing, transparency and social responsibility.
The growth of the global sustainable fashion industry is projected to be US $ 9.81 billion in 2025 and US $ 15.17 billion by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 9.1 per cent, therefore hinting at the transition of the market dynamics.
The growth of sustainable marketplace in India
Sustainable marketplaces in India emerge as a response to growing environmental concerns and a desire for more ethical and sustainable consumer products. Previously, brands sold independently on Facebook or Instagram, but there has been a shift in how these brands operate now. The emergence of sustainable marketplaces enables brands to be listed on them, increasing their reach and also helping to promote sustainable living and consumption in India and create awareness about the importance of sustainability among Indian consumers.
There are many online sustainable fashion marketplaces offering multi-category products such as Sustainkart by Kanthi Dutt, Brownliving by Chaitsi Ahuja, Saahra by Saachi Bahl, Meolaa by Ishita Sawant and Shuffling Suitcases by Devyani Kapoor. Each of these platforms cater to 300-1000 brands.
According to the Bain report, sustainability is also a growing concern for Indian consumers; 20% of consumers in India are environmentally and socially conscious while 49% are health conscious. The trigger that has motivated the Indian consumer to move towards sustainable products has been the personal impact due to environmental issues, followed closely by family and friends who have influenced their choices.
These marketplaces not only meet the needs of consumers who are increasingly concerned about sustainability, but they also demonstrate that it is possible to build a profitable business while also focusing on social and environmental responsibility.
Customers are exploring the shop by certification
Modern consumers are savvy about product certifications and increasingly prefer to make purchases based on these labels. What they wear and how it affects the planet both factor into their commitment to sustainability. The certifications listed on the websites are Ayush, Ecocert, FDA, FSC, GOTS, Oeko-Tex, PETA, USDA Organic.
Chaitsi Ahuja’s Brownliving is a multi-category, eco-friendly online marketplace for fashion and lifestyle. The business offers plastic-free shipping and Pragya Kapoor, an environmentalist and film producer, is affiliated with the organisation. Having received 75 lakhs from an angel investor and seeking further funding, the marketplace boasts of 420 different brands with a total of about 12,500 products and its quarterly growth is at about 44 per cent. Brownliving with its sustainable practices till now has been able to save 2,03,602 kg plastic from entering landfill since its inception in 2019.
Some brands listed on it are Nimbu Pani, One less, AAtman, Mhysa, ECO 365, Naari Pads, Malhar’s Children, Tarasha.
“Brown living is different from other sustainable marketplaces as we only list verified sustainable and 100 per cent plastic-free products, after doing a detailed check on sustainable metrics through the Brown Lens for each brand. Our intent is to ensure true and genuine sustainable consumption, so consumers don’t get any falsely-claimed products or get greenwashed,” – Chaitsi Ahuja
Challenges hinder the pace of growth but there is still scope
India has made strides towards creating a sustainable marketplace, but the country still faces significant challenges. One of the biggest obstacles is the lack of knowledge and awareness among consumers and businesses about sustainable practices. This means that many products that are not sustainable are still being bought and sold, perpetuating the unsustainable status quo. Additionally, the price of sustainable products and the infrastructure to support sustainable practices can be barriers to adoption. Another challenge is the complex supply chain ecosystem in India, which makes it difficult to ensure that supply chains are ethical and sustainable. Finally, funding for sustainable businesses can be scarce due to slow growth and a lack of interest from investors.
“To address these challenges, there is a pressing need for more awareness and collaborations in the ecosystem,” has been the unanimous verdict of all marketplaces.