Vaishnavi Bhatt, A Zero Waste Fashion Designer making lovely slow fashion clothing right from design to detail. Here’s her inspiring story.
What is slow fashion?
Slow fashion is effortless, timeless and elegant clothing that doesn’t follow trends that keep changing every season.
It’s about better quality products that will last for longer.
Top 3 problems caused by the fast fashion industry?
- Fast fashion is trendy clothing that people buy on a whim, wear for as long as it’s fashionable, and then gets ignored. Or worse, disposed of, thus adding to the already growing mass of the landfills.
- Fast fashion brands look to minimize their manufacturing costs, and thus find cheap labor and underpay the employees for overtime efforts.
- “Oh, I have that same dress!” Ever heard that before? Fast fashion clothing items are often mass manufactured imitations of designer clothing. They re-shelf every 2 weeks. The creator of the trend and design is the one who suffers, and the uniqueness and authenticity of their designs are diluted.
What’s the story behind the sustainable fashion label? When did the vision come into existence by you?
It started as a very small idea, to make comfortable clothing. I have never liked the feel of synthetic fabrics, and have always loved the touch and feel of soft cotton and linens, the way they allow the body to breathe, the way they look, the way they move and crinkle, it adds to the charm of natural fabrics. That was the very basis of my brand. Natural fabrics only. And the more I followed that the more I got exposed to the benefits of using those fabrics, and various ways to become a more sustainable brand. It slowly became more than just the fabric for me, I started cutting smartly, wasting less fabric, I started saving and segregating small scraps of fabrics, always in the hope of not throwing them and giving them a purpose.
What challenges do you face while setting up or even today as a zero waste label?
Yes, it can be a challenge. Both in terms of production and in terms of selling. It was a challenging task to explain to my master-ji and tailors why I want them to save the scraps. They’ve developed this habit since so long of just throwing all the scraps they don’t use, it wasn’t an overnight transformation. I still sometimes go across the studio and pick up all fabric pieces, making them aware that every little piece matters. As far as selling is concerned, often I need to interact with the customer and explain what the brands stand for, what the purpose of what I’m doing is. People who are environmentally conscious, they understand how these clothes are made, they understand why they’re more expensive than clothes you can just pick up at fast fashion brands in malls. But not every customer is the same, not all of them understand the story and where I’m trying to take this brand.
How has been the demand or reaction from the market for your product?
As mentioned above, there’s a variety of clientele I have to please. And some people don’t care or aren’t familiar with the concept of sustainability. That’s when my styling comes into play. I always try to come up with unique cuts and styles for each piece, styles that are appreciated by all. I want to break the stigma that sustainable fashion has to be loose, boring, bland clothing.
What drives people to find-use-buy your fashion label?
Of course, the fact that I’m a slow fashion brand helps attract a conscious crowd, but I also source a majority of my fabrics straight from the weavers, I ensure that those who are working hard to make these beautiful handloom textiles reap the benefits. I have realized that a lot of people have appreciated this, and a lot of people also are attracted to handlooms, the colors and unique textures. People have also appreciated the uniqueness in my designs. They respond well to something they’ve not seen before, and they like that it’s a one-off piece, nobody owns the same thing that they do. Each one is cut individually and handmade with love. People adore that they have unique pieces that they know almost nobody else owns.
What has been one of the peak moments for you so far into the journey?
I think we’re still a very small brand to have that kind of stand out moment, but the overwhelming love and support for the brand definitely is a highlight. Also, one amazing moment was when a friend saw a garment and said: “I immediately knew it was yours, the style is just so you”. And I liked that feedback, it’s good knowing that in such a small period of time, people have started recognizing the clothes by their styling and cuts, that’s always been my USP.
What’s your next milestone?
My next and biggest goal is going truly zero waste. We’re already a slow fashion brand that creates minimal waste. The waste that I do create, I’ve been collecting. I’ve started making small accessories that I personally hand-make, that’s something I would love to expand- upcycled fabric waste accessories so that we can truly go 100% zero waste.
What motivates you to put your effort into this knowing that it may not be a quick money making business idea?
I believe that any business goes through a journey where there isn’t any instant gratification. It’s a seed you plant that takes a lot of love and care to grow. I’m a dedicated and hard working person with a goal, and I’m keen on achieving it. And this goal doesn’t just end at having a large known brand that makes profits. It’s about having a conscious brand, a brand that stands for something. I believe that every effort, small or large to help the environment will count. And I look forward to doing my bit.
What future do you see for this field of industry?
I think that with people becoming conscious in every industry, and with people across those industries going the extra mile to talk to their consumers and sharing their story, we can really go far. Fashion is a very polluting industry, but it’s honestly such a great feeling to see so many of the younger generation of designers doing their bit, no matter how small or large to reduce their carbon footprint. A sustainable lifestyle has slowly started becoming more than a choice, it’s now a need. And as more people get conscious and aware, each industry can evolve and change for the better.
Interview Curated by Mridula Joshi