The pandemic has brought certain lifestyle modifications — first-time consumers of eco-friendly products and consciously adopting change which has translated into bigger markets for sustainable fashion brands, says Pankaj Khabiya, co-founder and product head at Ethik, a cruelty-free fashion brand for men.
He says that post the lockdown, the market scenario has seen substantial growth of 50 percent in business and up to 80 percent in certain product categories.
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Khabiya speaks to IANSlife about the changing fashion preferences of people. Excerpts:
How do you think the pandemic has changed people’s fashion preferences?
Khabiya: The pandemic has brought with it challenging times in many ways and its direct manifestation has been a change in people’s perspective altogether on how they live and what they choose to consume. This also entails all aspects of their lifestyle making them first-time consumers of eco-friendly products and consciously adapting to the change which has translated into bigger markets for sustainable fashion brands like ours who are trying to develop more innovative products keeping the fashion sensibilities in mind while being ethical, and sticking to our core values of ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ & ‘Live Leather Free’.
Did you witness a surge in demand during this period?
Khabiya: Yes, post the lockdown the market scenario has been encouraging and once we resumed business from August onwards, we have witnessed a fair growth for the brand and awareness about our products. Until now there has been a substantial growth of 50 percent in business and up to 80 percent in certain product categories. Also, we are expecting this trend to continue and get better in the next coming months.
Tell us about the exclusive new collection?
Khabiya: Combining all our learnings from the previous collections, the design team at Ethik was given a clear brief to go all out for designing keeping comfort and aesthetics as the priority. We have added 25 new styles in footwear for men and also introduced a new collection in wallets. The material used for producing wallets is named acorn for its distinct look, all-natural feel, and jaw-dropping performance. The material is a result of the processing plant and wood fiber pulp, combined with other recycled cellulose, paper, and natural fibers. This material is eco-friendly recyclable and sustainable and since the process is long-drawn, it maintains the highest standards of quality. This material premium, therefore, it is imported.
How does the whole process of procuring fiber from plants work?
Khabiya: The acorn collection is made by special processing of plant and wood fiber pulp, combined with other recycled cellulose, paper, and natural fibers. It is eco-friendly and sustainable. The bonding agents and colors used in the manufacturing process are safe. It is strong and non-tearable at a reasonable thickness and compares favorably or better than leather for the same thickness. It is washable, takes stitching well, and can be fabricated into small and large bags, purses, and accessories. The product will pass all testing including REACH, ROHS, and Oeko-tex.
What are its environmental impacts?
Khabiya: As far as the environmental impacts go, incorporating an eco-friendly lifestyle helps keep a check on the carbon footprint and its proliferation. It has been able to ensure that no more animals end up in the endangered category or are killed for our exotic tastes.
Can sustainable clothing and accessories also be affordable?
Khabiya: Yes, sustainable products can be and are already considered affordable as they last longer in terms of usage and maintenance and give a good ROI in the long term which weighs out the pricing of the product. Moreover, eco-friendly products are inherently durable and all-weather resistant which adds to the long life of the products.
How have you set the cost of each eco-friendly product you create?
Khabiya: Every venture, whether eco-friendly or not, has to be profitable to its makers. Rather than focussing on high markups on the costing, our design and production teamwork on various material combinations and manufacturing best practices to ensure the costing is always under control and zero wastage is achieved.
Our focus is to remain premium and cater to the luxury buyer, in a price range that is entry-level luxury hence creating a larger consumer base for eco-friendly sustainable non-leather products.
How can one move towards sustainable fashion?
Khabiya: Buying what you need in fashion preferences is a crucial initial step towards this goal, educating yourself on what sustainability really is and what it means for your lifestyle will help you make more informed choices on what to look for when buying sustainable products. Appreciating the change in your lifestyle must make it to more ears to help them also choose wisely too. (IANS)