The conversation around sustainable fashion has been growing stronger, especially, ever since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the world. This has led to many designers believe in making sustainability the main focus of India’s fashion industry, but some others have already been promoting sustainable fabrics for a while now.
Nitij Singh, who co-founded the startup Aslee with Zoya Wahi, is one such example. They began the initiative two years ago when they happened to be in Nepal while a massive earthquake rocked the mountainous country. Now, they promote products made from bamboo, hemp and native nettle fabrics.
Being a cause-driven brand, most of their sales happen offline and prior to the lockdown, they were working on a line of events, participating in different farmers market. “We were pursuing this very aggressively and this was to continue this year as well. We had planned to participate in various events across India, introducing our products and talk about how fabrics and climate change are interrelated. So, when the lockdown started, everything came to a halt,” says Singh.
But that’s not all. With the factories they were working with closed, the supply change was also disrupted. “Now the process has been resumed, but with months of no manufacturing, we are running short on our inventory.”
With numerous challenges posed due to the lockdown in the country, the brand is reinventing itself. “We are now trying to shift towards collaboration with artists and platforms. In order to make sustainability a viable option, we are looking into ways of lowering the prices of the products we are currently selling,” says Singh, who on a brighter side looks at the work from home culture creating a space for comfortable T-shirts they sell.
“It has been two weeks since we reopened our business and there has been traction digitally to get our products. So, in that sense, there is some positivity around.”These couple of months have also seen a huge rise in the use of disposable masks, causing more pollution. Looking into the matter, the duo is working on prototype bamboo mask. “With reports of water bodies getting flooding with single-use masks, we thought of experimenting with bamboo facemasks which can be distributed to people.
Rather than being a profit-driven campaign, this will focus on creating awareness among the people. We have the fabric needed to make the masks but are currently looking for an NGO to partner. We can supply the fabric to them to make masks and the revenue generated can be given to the NGO,” adds Singh.
With no events and platforms open in the near future, the brand is looking at Business-to-Business (B2B) collaborations, primarily in Australia and Germany.
We are hoping to revive ourselves depending upon these B2B partnerships,” concludes Singh