Web-based organic clothing line a fusion of East and West

Ian B. Murphy

Fashion designer Shubhra Chandra has started her own business, creating an organic clothing line that combines Western style with Eastern flavor.

The label, called Shubrah, launched Sept. 30. The clothing line will be a Web-only product at first, available at

“Shubrah is geared for a global person who wants something unique,” Chandra said. “It’s very bright and vibrant. The styles are very Western, but the fabric and some of the accents are Indian. It’s a mix of East and West; it’s a fusion.”

Chandra, a 12-year resident of Lexington, has worked for The Limited, Inc., which owns Express and Victoria’s Secret. Most recently, she worked for Talbots.

“I was working with the big companies for years, and now I’m finally branching out on my own,” she said.

Shubrah, a variant of Chandra’s first name, means “the good path” in Hindi. For Chandra, the name was the perfect fit because she’s tailoring her business practices to be as environmentally responsible as possible.

“We all liked that the way [the name] was spelled also resonated what the brand is about,” she said.

Shubrah’s clothing and accessories are either 100 percent organic cotton or 100 percent silk. The clothing tags are made from recycled paper, and items will be shipped in cloth bags, not plastic.

Chandra has a contract with a non-government organization (NGO) called Chintan, which works with rag pickers in New Delhi, India. The rag pickers use plastic bags to create several different items, weaving file folders, brief cases and purses. Chintan tries to provide them with some money, and helps their children by taking them from the poorest areas and puts them in schools.

“They try to give them a living, and give them some money for what they’re doing,” Chandra said.

Chandra said Chintan’s products are exclusively available at her Web site, and that a percentage of the sales will go back to the NGO.

She said that the fashion industry creates a lot of waste, and uses toxic chemicals for bleaching and dyeing clothing. America and other first-world nations have restrictions on dumping and waste disposal, but many of the countries where the clothing is produced do not.

“Not every country has [regulations], and traditionally fashion goes to countries with cheaper and cheaper labor,” she said.

Chandra said it’s easier for a small business or start up to try to stray from the bigger fashion companies’ practices, because she doesn’t have to worry about alienating her base customers.