I chanced upon Ecentic India while looking for a birthday gift for a friend of mine. What better gift to give a close friend than something organic. I was looking for something special in organic and viola, there it was, this wonderful online website selling hemp clothing. Of course, I simply had to order from them. Mind you, despite the lockdown I was able, with help from the messenger on the website, to order a beautiful blouse for my friend.
I was very intrigued by the fact that this one courageous person who had followed his passion to create sustainable clothing in India, I wanted to know more, and I messaged Salendra Gupta of Ecentric India to ask if he would be willing to give me an interview. The excerpts of the interview are given below:
Madhavi: What is the Ecentric story?
Salendra Gupta: I was born and brought up in Surat- the textile hub of India hence I understand the industry basics and I have friends and connections in the industry. After my MBA from IIM Calcutta, I was working with Godrej properties. Last year in March the pandemic hit us and we were all confined to our houses. I started doing household chores and started focusing more on food, fitness, etc. I realized the life I was leading was not sustainable enough starting from everyday clothing and after my initial research, I learned that there is a very limited number of sustainable fashion brands in India. So I thought of starting a sustainable fashion brand. I researched more about the hemp industry and hemp fabric in India and there were not many options available especially affordable ones. Hence I started on the journey to hempower the fashion industry in India to bridge the gap and providing customers an option to try sustainable fashion. Therefore we created an environment-centric (‘E’centric) sustainable fashion brand.
Madhavi: What did you do before You started Ecentric India?
Salendra Gupta: As I said before I was born and brought up in Surat- the textile hub of India. I am an engineering graduate and was working with Ericsson before completing my MBA from IIM Calcutta. After my MBA, I was working with Godrej properties in the land acquisition team.
Madhavi: Why did you choose Hemp and not organic cotton or banana fiber?
Shalendra Gupta: Hemp has many advantages as a plant over other plants like cotton, organic cotton, bamboo, banana, etc. The water required by hemp is 4 times less compared to cotton. Hemp doesn’t need fertilizers, pesticides and helps in soil erosion. Overall hemp cultivation is carbon negative. Organic cotton still needs water for cultivation which is comparable to traditional cotton cultivation. As pointed out by an environmental journalist (Stephen Leahy)- “85 % of the daily needs in the water of the entire population of India would be covered by the water used to grow cotton in the country. 100 million people in India do not have access to drinking water”. So it is very important and crucial to understanding the environmental impact of the cultivation of various plants used in the textile industry.
Madhavi: Where do you get your hemp? Locally or from different states or farmers directly.
Salendra Gupta: Currently, in India, hemp cultivation is only allowed for medicinal purposes in 2-3 states. We import the hemp fiber and then spinning, weaving, etc is done in India. Once the fabric is made, it comes to stitching partners where end products are made.
Madhavi: Why do you think farmers should turn to hemp farming. ?
Shalendra Gupta: The benefits of the cultivation of hemp are well documented. Indian climate is suitable for hemp cultivation and it requires quite less water compared to the cultivation of cotton. Hemp grows fast and the complete cycle can be completed in 4-6 months.
Madhavi: Is the process of making hemp cloths chemical-free?
Salendra Gupta: Yes, absolutely. Our complete supply chain from cultivation to weaving factories is GOTS compliant which is the highest organic textile standard. We only use azo-free dyes for dying our fabrics.
Madhavi: Why the name Ecentric?
Salendra Gupta: Ecentric was born with an idea to create “E”nviornment-centric community and so the name. The organic way of living is getting popular every day as people learn to live sustainably and for it to successfully transform our future, we need to embrace it in every aspect – not just limit it to food and personal care. Clothing is an important part of our lives and the fashion industry adds a significant amount to the world’s carbon footprint. Hence, we believe sustainable fashion is the future and it is essential for all of us to be a part of an environment-centric community (Ecentric).
Madhavi: How is the response been to your products since you started.?
Salendra Gupta: We have seen really good traction so far. Indian consumers are price-sensitive and they want to try sustainable clothing but there are very limited options and the available options are not very affordable. Given our price range is very attractive, we have seen consumers easily making that switch to trying sustainable clothing.
Madhavi: Is hemp clothing catching on in India?
Salendra Gupta: Globally sustainable fashion/clothing is very vaguely defined. Different people have a different meanings of sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion can be defined by the virtue of using organic raw materials like hemp, bamboo, organic cotton, etc, using eco-friendly dyes, and other such practices in the value chain of apparel manufacturing. We are seeing good traction and more and more people are getting aware of the harmful impact caused by the fashion industry at large. However, given the limited number of options and their price range, the adoption or switching to sustainable fashion is slow. With our affordable hemp clothing offerings, we are trying to fast-track that adoption.
Madhavi: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Salendra Gupta: Well, 10 years is a very long frame of time. We would want to create well established environment-centric community.
Thank you very much Salendra for this interview. I am looking forward to shopping from Ecentric India again.
If any of you would like to buy organic sustainable clothes for your loved ones or yourself please do give hemp a chance. Hemp clothing goes a long way with us humans. Want to know more click