British Indians usually travel to India to buy clothes.
There is no denying that British Indians have heard of fast fashion.
It’s a term that stays on the tip of the tongue for countless fashion-conscious buyers.
Fast fashion is also a term frequently directed at the South Asian community.
For example, Bangladesh has remained at the center of fast fashion concerns in the twenty-first century.
According to the Borgen project, 83% of the country’s exports are made from the garment industry.
As a result, fast fashion has raised broader concerns about the sustainability of fashion in South Asia.
Sustainable fashion is about making and consuming clothing in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner.
But apart from fast fashion, how is South Asia and especially India raising awareness of this?
A trend that was popular with the British Indians was to travel to India in search of new clothes.
Whether it is a relative’s wedding or an upcoming party, the desire to wear new and fashionable clothes is common.
However, the consequences of these fashion-centric trips can be devastating.
Despite the consequences, fashionistas continue to make such trips frequently.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has partially halted travel and weddings. Before that, such campaigns were common.
Despite the mounting climate crisis with non-essential air travel, these are concerns that are not conveyed well to older audiences.
Therefore, the older generation may not understand the obvious about returning to their homeland in clothes specifically.
It raises the question – is going back to India for clothes a major concern?
And if these trips are still committed, how do they contribute to environmental problems?
DESIblitz explores the issues with these shopping trips, as well as the alternatives available to British Indians today.
Why do British Indians travel to India to buy clothes?
British Indians usually travel to India to buy clothes to reach the markets they know well.
Younger British Indians may not see this call.
Many British Indians are born in the UK and find it easy to browse for clothes in stores where they can best navigate.
But for those who have migrated, India’s markets may be more suitable for them.
British Indians who are not completely confident in speaking English may find it difficult to shop in Britain.
Another reason why British Indians go to India for shopping is the variety of clothes available.
Again, younger British Indians might think that the streets of the UK perfectly cater to Indians.
Indian clothing centers are famous for their availability in bridal bridal wear.
Charming lehengas and delicately covered sarees attract British Indians and encourage window shopping.
The Birmingham Mail recorded how one of the West Midlands’ ways succeeded in the British-Asian clothing trade.
“Ladypool Road in Sparkbrook attracts regular shoppers from as far away as Newcastle, Oxford, Bristol and even Scotland.”
There are many areas across Britain where you can find cascading avenues filled with luxurious Indian suits, jewelry and accessories.
However, the globalization of British street has not always been what it was in the 2000s.
Only when the settlement of British Indians in the interior of the city became noticeable did regeneration take place on the main streets of Britain.
Prior to this, the variety of clothing sets available to British Indians was less.
The collections were restricted due to the supply coming from India, which later increased later.
Even in the days of peak post-immigration, there is still recognition of the inclusiveness of Indians in retail fashion.
Vogue Business argued: “UK retailers need to do more to attract Indian shoppers.
“Increasing affluence and increased mobility are attracting more Indian visitors to the UK, but the shopping experience leaves much to be desired.”
Therefore, the most diverse product ranges were and still are in India.
The range of clothing available to Indians will continue to be prominent in India itself.
Moreover, the accessibility of tailors, changers and fashion designers in India for Indian clothing remains superior.
While there is a rise in the number of Indian designers in Britain, the numbers surprisingly outnumber those in India.
The problem of traveling to India for shopping
Many British Indians may not see a problem with the shopping trend of going to India for clothes.
After all, isn’t India where the cheapest and best tailored Desi clothes can be found?
Why should we discourage British Indians from buying from places where they feel good?
The above are all valid questions and inquiries regarding this topic.
As with a lot of things, these shopping habits are usually established regardless of the consequences.
With this in mind, the result is over-consumption, which leads to a negative impact on the environment.
With the help of a carbon footprint calculator, one can see the detrimental effect that travel abroad specifically for clothing can have.
A return flight from Heathrow, England, to Amritsar, India, produces approximately 3.74 tons of carbon dioxide.
It can be said that the environment acts as a sacrifice of individual needs.
With the growing concerns about fast fashion in India, it is surprising that other environmental issues related to fashion are being ignored.
The reason for the lack of attention on this matter boils down to the fact that people are simply not aware of the harm they can cause by taking such trips.
It may be increasingly difficult to communicate this concern with older British Indians due to the generational divide.
However, the steps one takes after learning about these environmental consequences are much more important.
So, what could British Indians do instead of traveling to India for new clothes?
Shopping alternatives in India
Finding and supporting UK fashion designers has never been easier.
In a multicultural country, it is no longer difficult to find British Asian designers and curators of collections.
Moreover, British Indian designers can often provide a more distinct style and edge.
They often create galleries that you might not have access to in a shop in India.
British Indians also have different preferences in clothing compared to the individuals residing in India.
Therefore, British-Indian designers can specialize in creating fashion collections that suit the British-Indian eye more.
This may take the form of a fusion of Western and Indian styles.
The Financial Times highlights how British Indian designers are beginning to dominate a new market:
“Until recently, only a handful of UK-based designers were celebrated for translating their Indian heritage into a new, mixed language.”
By looking inside Britain itself, British Indians can often find clothes that relate to their personal experiences.
The designer who offered this heritage listing is Priya Ahluwalia.
The New York Times Style magazine said of Priya:
“British designer praises immigrant experience.”
Priya Ahluwalia also recognized the urgent need to promote sustainable clothing.
As a result, the designer took an environmentally friendly initiative to make clothes.
Speaking with The New York Times Style Magazine, she said:
“If I’m going to add more clothes to the world, I can use materials that already exist.”
Therefore, British designers started designing a fashion experience for British Indians.
Investing in British Indian shops results in far fewer pollutants than making trips abroad.
Thrift stores are also worth a visit, especially if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind pieces.
Clothing rental services are also becoming increasingly popular. It is only a matter of time before Desi clothing becomes readily available for rent.
Platforms like Depop and Vinted are also great sources for browsing and buying items at a great price.
However, the easiest way to buy Desi clothes, along with a rare trip to India, is to shop on a small scale and locally.
In cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Southall, Indian clothing stores are a force to be reckoned with.
An occasional trip to Indian clothing hotspots is more ecologically acceptable compared to a journey of a thousand miles.
Investing in British-based Indian clothing reduces the environmental impacts of traveling to India.
British Indians do, and will undoubtedly continue to make trips to India to buy clothes.
However, by amplifying the problems with these flights, there is hope for change.
The impact of flights on the environment is increasingly being taken into consideration, especially for millennials and Generation Z.
Sometimes, it can be hard to realize that you may be sticking to unnecessary and harmful lifestyle habits.
But by recognizing the problems that caused this, British Indians could become more educated and willing to make adjustments to their shopping habits.