Image by Wolf & Badger
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Commonly known as kimonos or cover-ups, festival dusters are a beloved staple of the high-vibe travel circuit. This cute, lightweight piece is easy to throw over your outfit to make it a bit more modest (or stylish).
Here at Ecocult, we think everyone needs a quality festival duster. They’re just too versatile to ignore. Not only do they make a great statement piece over your festival look, but you can also wear them as swimsuit cover-ups, an accessory at yoga retreats, or as a bridesmaid robe.
However, we urge you to be careful when shopping for a festival kimono or duster. While authentic, Japanese, vintage kimonos are made with silk or cotton, many modern takes are cheaply made with polyester and won’t be as breathable as natural fabrics. Synthetics aren’t light and gentle on your skin and don’t feel as good when you’re dancing on the beach or stepping out of a sauna.
Here’s what we suggest when looking for your own:
Second-hand: If possible, it’s always best to buy an existing piece of clothing. Some of the highest-quality kimonos on the market are vintage or pre-loved. Not only can often you get a much better price from a second-hand retailer, but you can end up with something truly special. If you can’t find a pre-loved one you like, consider a brand that uses second-hand materials. (Note that if you buy a vintage Japanese kimono, you may need to take it to the tailor to get it folded up so it doesn’t drag on the ground, a worthy investment!)
Ethically and transparently made: It’s important to know who made your festival duster and how they were treated in the workplace. Additionally, the manufacturing of your new piece shouldn’t be harmful to the environment. Luckily, a long festival duster lends itself to traditional artisan techniques. Brands that have a small team of artisans or are transparent about their supply chain are more likely to follow fair labor practices and be proactive about their environmental impact.
Non-toxic dyes and materials: Look for natural cotton, silk, or linen. These tend to be the most breathable, safest, and long-lasting. Many kimono artisans use block printing, a beautiful and sustainable technique that involves hand-pressing large stamps to create a pattern with non-toxic ink. Several of the brands on our list also use recycled fabrics to keep quality materials from going to waste.
Care: Before you purchase a festival duster, be sure you’re prepared to take care of it. Some need to be hand-washed or washed alone in cold water, while others are less fragile. Be sure to follow the brand or seller’s instructions to prevent your new piece from getting damaged. But avoid, if you can, anything that is dry clean only!
Wolf & Badger is an online retailer that vets ethical and sustainable artisans from around the world. Each product it hosts has certain sustainability guarantees listed in its online description, such as non-toxic dyes and low-impact packaging. Its selection of festival dusters includes a variety of silk, cotton, and linen options, as well as incredibly eye-catching patterns that are perfect for your festival outfit. Some even come with an optional belt or fringe, or are reversible.
This Italy-based vintage luxury online boutique hosts a variety of high-quality vintage goods, including silk kimonos from the ’60s, ‘70s, and the ‘90s with floral, checked, geometric, and abstract prints. Angelo seeks to reduce the environmental impact of fashion by making existing vintage pieces affordable and accessible.
Studio 189 is an African-based brand that produces high-end and handmade clothing. It uses all-natural dyes from local plants and herbs for all of its pieces, including its silk and organic cotton kimonos, which come in several eye-catching patterns and styles. Its store, manufacturing site, and online shop are all based in Accra, Ghana, to minimize transportation emissions and support local artisans.
This Etsy seller offers a collection of handmade dusters that are cool and lightweight. While most are made of cotton, some are made with vintage silk and recycled Indian Sari fabric. The shop has a wide variety of unique colors and prints, and most come with belts and pockets for extra versatility. Be sure to hand wash or put it on a gentle cycle when you’re ready to clean your duster.
D and E Discovered sources its materials from leftover cotton and block-printed fabrics from India to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. The sellers even take the leftovers from their colorful dusters and turn them into tote bags and hair ribbons. The brand buys in small batches, so its wide collection of distinctive prints are all limited run.
This India-based block printing shop specializes in handmade cotton apparel and home decor. It’s a small team of talented artisans led by a second-generation block printer. Its kimono selection includes almost every color and print imaginable at accessible prices, but if you can’t find your favorite design, you can place a custom order. Be sure to hand-wash it!
This shop makes one-of-a-kind festival dusters from cotton, vintage silk, and sari fabric from all across India. This mix of new and old fabric results in some seriously stunning pieces. Its collection includes brightly colored patchwork, tie-dye, and floral styles, many of which are block printed. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and perfect for protecting your skin from the summer sun. The shop’s prices are affordable as well!
Wearwell is an online retailer that only partners with brands that fight for workers’ rights and care about their environmental impact. In addition to its initial assessment, Wearwell interviews and continually checks up on its brands. It has a small collection of block-printed festival jackets in colors ranging from gold to red. Wearwell also offers a secondhand program for those who have gently used its garments, and even offers a discount for those who participate.