Secteur 6, Maker of Kaftans, Sets a High Standard for Sustainable Fashion

These flowy garments are becoming everyone's favorite summer outfit.

kaftans by Secteur 6
Secteur 6.

It's the summer of kaftans, according to the Sunday Times. This news should make everyone happy, from those who long for a tropical beach vacation, to those who have spent so much time wearing sweatpants that they cannot imagine squeezing into anything else, to those who love to rock a daring new look. 

"With travel restrictions getting in the way of their usual jet-setting, fashionistas are modelling their beachwear in town," the Times reported in early July. "Long, shapeless, wafty frocks in holidaymaker prints are what they are wearing to lunch now, but with heels instead of over a bikini."

If you're wanting to jump aboard the kaftan trend, then there is one maker you should know about. Secteur 6 is about as Treehugger-friendly as fashion companies come. Based in India, where it was founded by brothers Amit and Puneet Hooda, Secteur 6 is meant to be a force for change in an industry that desperately needs it. Its goal: "To create cutting-edge fashion while implementing progressive, regenerative solutions that heal the earth and uplift workers."

Secteur 6 kaftans

Secteur 6

In order to achieve this, it has committed to six practices—or "secteurs", if you will. The first is building their own factory in Delhi because they couldn't find one that met their exacting standards for transparency. (It's also air-conditioned, which is a rare luxury for garment workers.) The second is embracing regenerative farming as a way of supporting farmers whose agricultural practices are kinder to the environment. No pesticides and 30-40% less water usage are standard practice.

Next comes workers' rights and wellness. Secteur 6 pays its employees 20-50% more than the national minimum wage, and offers health insurance as well. It also sticks by its employees in hard times: "During the 2.5 months our factory shut down [last year], we paid our workers fully."

All materials used are 100% natural and biodegradable, so as to reduce shedding of microplastic fibers. The fabrics are made with waste products, such as banana peels, rose petals, and mushrooms, as well as bamboo and cotton. A spokesperson for the company told Treehugger, 

"The fabrics are made from the waste of the organic materials, e.g. discarded rose petals. [With] plant-based fibers, like viscose, the waste is converted to pulp, and the fibre is derived from the pulp. The [vegan] fabric gives the feel of silk, while being absorbent like cotton. It's perfect for summers and humid climates."

Gender equality is another priority, with women guaranteed equal pay, equal opportunity, and equal treatment. Finally, preserving the local artisanal culture is another focus, with traditional embroidery added to help preserve the craft.

All of this might sound fabulous in theory, but are you still wondering about the feasibility of actually wearing a kaftan? Secteur 6 offers reassurance. 

"Originating centuries ago in the Middle East and North Africa, the kaftan is a uniquely versatile garment that can be dressed up or down with ease. Is it a gown? A housecoat? Who cares! It’s the quintessential clothing item for a year in which comfort is essential, leaving the house is aspirational, and sweatpants are finally starting to feel a little depressing." 

With no waistbands, no belts, and no buttons, a kaftan is a blank slate for whatever you want it to become. They come in long and mid-lengths, with scoop necks, straight necks, and V-necks, and a range of patterns. 

The Secteur 6 spokesperson described them as "the perfect utilitarian look for lounging, entertaining, resort wear, or travel. They’re breathable, can be worn to work with a festive sandal and belted for a night out. You can even sleep in them."

It sounds like everyone's post-pandemic dream garment. What are you waiting for? Check out Secteur 6 here.