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NYC to Mumbai, a real-life Swades story - Apurva Kothari, Founder, No Nasties

Cool Because…

Co-founder, No Nasties – India’s first 100% fair trade, organic clothing brand.


Apurva Kothari.

The Story

Picture this – a software engineer from Mumbai, sitting in a fancy New York office, troubled by the rising farmer suicides in India, decides to move back to the country. Sounds straight out of a movie? Well, it’s not, although it might make for a good one.

In 2011, when the advent of genetically modified crops was leading farmers to commit suicide by the thousands, Apurva started No Nasties, a clothing brand that uses organic cotton and follows fair trade farming and production practices.

This means that farmers in their supply chain use natural seeds and fertilizers instead of genetically modified (GMO) seeds and synthetic chemicals. The company pays farmers a fair wage along with an additional premium that goes into a community development fund. No Nasties is one the first relatively affordable, young sustainable fashion brands that has garnered mass appeal. Apruva is a driving force behind the sustainable fashion movement in India due to his collaborative and awareness-driven approach. #CollaborationNotCompetition

Why Should You Care?

While the fashion industry is booming, the farmers at the bottom of the supply chain haven’t had a fair deal. In the last two decades, 300,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide in India. Farmers’ hands are the first set of hands that touch our clothes, and No Nasties is a home-grown option for you to choose style that supports eco-friendly and fair practices so you can look good, feel good, and do good!


We caught up with Apurva on what inspires him and more!

What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

Fashion is sustainable if the it’s “profitable” on all 3 bottom lines of People, Planet, and Finances.

What do you think is the biggest hindrance to the sustainable fashion movement?

Lack of awareness, a lack of understanding of the urgency of the issue and a lack of

viable options for consumers too.

Can you talk about some of the challenges you face in your work?

On the production side, being a small business means our factories never give

us priority. There are always delays! On the consumer side, being a small business means our budgets can’t compete with the big fashion brands so being seen/heard online is getting

tougher every day.

What’s some advice for our readers to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?

You don’t need to overhaul your entire lifestyle in one go, but start taking small steps

towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Ask questions, realize your impact and do

something about it.

Tell us one inspiring story from your work.

We were doing a photoshoot in Mumbai for which we had to rent lights; along with

the lights came a lightman to take care of the equipment. On the day of the

shoot, the lightman started asking us about our use of organic cotton - why, where, how? Only after he heard all our answers did he open up and tell us that he himself is/was a cotton farmer and had left his family farms to come to the city for a job; that he could not sustain living on a farming income. He blessed us for all the work we were doing and even got us some cotton the next day from his own farm. Of all the lightmen in the big city of Mumbai, how did we get this one? The world works in mysterious ways to connect you with the ones that you need to meet.


The Elevator Pitch

  • Started by Apurva Kothari, a software engineer, back in 2011 No Nasties is India’s first 100% fair trade, organic clothing brand that supports farmers through fair wages and price premiums.

  • Rising farmer suicides motivated Kothari to start No Nasties which quickly became one of the first relatively affordable, young sustainable fashion brands in India with mass appeal.


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