DUBAI EXPATS STORIES. Girl next door advocates sustainable fashion

Born and raised in Dubai, Deepthi Chandran Joyau, a frequent shopper, always found great comfort in buying clothes regularly at a discounted price. After ending 15 years in the corporate world, she wanted to explore, learn and get creative by shifting her lifestyle to include more sustainable choices.

During this time, Deepthi, founder of Only Ethikal, a sustainable fashion e-commerce platform in the UAE, realized there is a lack of awareness about the need for sustainable fashion and the impact today’s global fashion industry has on human rights and our environment. 

This led to the idea of creating Only Ethikal, a platform that could bring together ethical brands and connect them with people who wish to shop, both casually and sustainably. 

Deepthi, who started her career as an accountant, shares how it all started: 

“Before 2019, I celebrated when I found a good garment at a cheap price, completely unaware of what goes behind making it available at that price,” she said, recalling that it was a year earlier when she got caught of “a lot of talks on sustainability,” which caught her attention.

Deepthi did her homework and learned about how the current fashion industry works, which she was “alarming.” It was also “unsettling,” she said, “to realize how I was a part of this big problem.”

“Before then, I never checked if I was wearing synthetic or a natural fabric as long as the price was low,” said Deepthi.

“During this time, many of us (including myself) found the options available for sustainable fashion as expensive,” she added, further sharing that it is when she came across some of the makers in India, with whom she works with today. 

“These makers were already mastering the concept of sustainable fashion and offering quality designs at affordable prices. Only Ethikal was created from there, where I wanted to create a space to bring sustainable brands together so that more customers can include sustainable fashion in their wardrobe,” she said. 

Deepthi said part of Only Ethikal’s mission is to give back. “We have, therefore, committed 1% of our earnings to One Percent for the Planet every year since 2020,” she said. 

One Percent for the Planet is an international organization whose members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes. Their mission is to “build, support and activate an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet.” 

Only Ethikal curates from brands that believe in defining fashion through the stories each piece of clothing narrates, giving it not only a purpose, but also a trend. All designs produced are traded ethically and are made from sustainable fabrics by workers skilled in the craft of making designs.

Deepthi views Only Ethikal as a platform that can bring a positive change in people’s wardrobe and have an influence on consumers to make conscious choices when they buy clothes. 

By choosing sustainable fashion, Deepthi feels she has grown closer to many cultures, processes, people and most importantly the piece of clothing itself.  She believes that each design on her website speaks a unique story and creates awareness in its own way.

“Pre- and post-production waste are two major concerns in the fashion industry, and we are focused on controlling this by making clothes on order and also by ensuring that we have partnered with the right brands who are recycling or upcycling their cutting room waste,” Deepthi said. 

Having been born and raised in Dubai,  an expat city of people from over 250 countries, Deepthi said this melting pot city is a land of opportunities where “we get to meet people of different cultures, eat different cuisines, and also learn a lot about the history of different countries..”

“Dubai has allowed my family to have the life that we have today, and for that, I will always be humble and grateful. I would like to find ways on how I can contribute to the welfare of the city,” she said. 


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