In Part III of Road to Sustainability, we go on a sustainable fashion trail to unearth some industry secrets with sustainable fashion champion Doodlage founder, Kriti Tula, and Hyundai KONA Electric.
As time evolves, our approach towards many things change. And lying at the core of these changes is sustainability. Right from the world of travel to culinary, arts and fashion–everything is now being created with a sustainability-first approach.
Keeping in mind the significance of being sustainable in this day and age, Travel + Leisure India & South Asia in collaboration with Hyundai KONA Electric, brings Road to Sustainability, a three-part video series on sustainable living with thought leaders from the fields of travel, food, and lifestyle.
In Part III, we traverse the roads of Delhi and Jaipur, with Kriti Tula, who runs her own sustainable fashion label—Doodlage—with co-founder Paras Arora. As we marvel at her studio, she begins the conversation about sustainability in fashion by pointing out its need. “There’s a conscious effort from the fashion industry to keep us in the dark about what mass production is doing to the environment. Slow fashion is a need, not just an alternative. When I was growing up, it was just a way of life—good quality clothes that would last you years. That’s what I’ve spent my career building—an ecosystem where clothes are made from the stuff they called ‘waste’ in the fashion industry,” she shares.
Sustainability and Fashion
Before we understand the world of fashion through the lens of sustainability, Tula also helps us navigate the basic difference between slow and sustainable fashion—the two words that are often used interchangeably but are two varying concepts. “People often confuse slow fashion with sustainable fashion. The key difference is that slow fashion is about getting the most amount of use out of garments that already exist. Sustainable fashion is when garments are made ethically, from fabric that was made for that purpose. It’s a better balance between people, planet, and profits,” she says.
Tula and Arora’s brand, Doodlage, is known for making garments from fabric that would otherwise be dumped. The duo creates their products from upcycled or recycled material to give their consumers sustainable wear.
Highlighting some basic facts about slow fashion, Tula says, “Every year, 342 million oil barrels are used for making polyester for the fashion industry. And when those clothes are discarded, they cannot be recycled. The whole world sends its garment waste to India to recycle, and this has been happening for decades. So, we know how to recycle, but we don’t have a collection system. There’s no one place where people can send their old clothes to be recycled—which means we know what to do but are not practising it in our own country. There’s no middle step.”
Talking about sustainability in fashion on a personal level, Tula shares, “India has become the 6th largest consumer of goods in the world. I often think about how sustainability is about personal responsibility. At a micro level, we should take small steps. For instance, simply swapping clothes with friends, or even buying two value pieces instead of the 10 pieces online. The older clothes can be repurposed or reused, and you save on time, space and money because higher quality pieces last you longer.”
Following a similar mindset like Tula is Bhaavya Goenka, who runs Iro Iro, which upcycles industry waste by weaving it back on handloom with local artisans in and around Jaipur. “Collaborating with brands like Iro Iro enables us to do more with Doodlage—like creating home furnishing collections, garments and accessories–that help us create a better supply chain, one that is less harmful for the planet,” shares Kriti.
Hyundai KONA Electric and Sustainability
Talking about her journey to Jaipur with the Hyundai KONA Electric, Tula says, “Thanks to the trip, I got a chance to take the Hyundai KONA Electric out for a spin.”
Highlighting the similarities between Hyundai and Doodlage, Tula iterates, “Hyundai is doing some great work to offer alternatives to people who want to be mindful of what they’re leaving behind. They have recognised that work needs to be done. They’re encouraging people to pick a greener path to sustainability, which aligns with my work with Doodlage.”
She further explains, “I wanted to work with people who felt the same way. I kept waiting for a brand that gave me a sustainable alternative. When that didn’t happen, I decided I just do it myself. With Hyundai, I get a chance to open up this conversation to a much larger audience. Their medium is technology, while mine is fabric. They’ve spent time and energy where they’ve said–what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint? Take the Eco mode of the Hyundai KONA Electric [for example] that saves energy while you’re driving, especially when you’re driving through peak traffic in Delhi.”
Before parting for the day, Tula ensures that she shares some steps that we can inculcate in our daily practices to adopt a sustainable approach towards fashion. “You can start with simple steps, like learning about the brand and the material you are wearing and shopping for garments you will wear for longer. I love clothes just as much as the next person, but I want to be part of the solution. We employ fair wage workers who are paid well to create garments that last a lifetime. It’s about making small decisions, buying from local vendors, and upcycling, thrifting and repurposing the clothes. How can I minimise the waste I create vs. maximise use from products that already exist? It is these small steps that make a big difference.”