The concept of sustainability in fashion has become what is called a ‘buzzword’, used and defined very vaguely in many practices and issues. If you are looking for inspiration then this is a good start: look at what others do. We looked at KARIGAR and share five points of inspiration with you about starting a sustainable fashion brand.
First about KARIGAR. They design capes, shawls, and scarfs in the Netherlands, which are produced in India. They use natural materials such as sheep wool and nettle fibers from the Himalayas and they try to use mostly natural dyes. For the production, they work with artisans in different parts of India, mainly women. People who buy a KARIGAR product can actually see who made their product on their price tag. Kanak, co-founder of KARIGAR: "We at KARIGAR started out of love for fashion and design. And because we saw that things had to change in the clothing sector."
Down below the five points that we found inspiring about KARIGARs way of working.
1. Multifunctional fashion
Nowadays, we buy 60% more clothing compared to 2000, while a large part is not worn or ends up in the bin. Furthermore, fast-changing trends are resulting in people being already fed up with their piece of clothing. The challenge is thus: people should buy less and keep their clothing longer. KARIGARs solution for this is the multifunctional KARIGAR Cape, that can be worn in 17 different ways. This video shows how you can wear it.
2. Talking Tag
Transparency is important in the textile supply chain. The distance between customer and producer sometimes looks infinite. On the other hand, the world is becoming smaller with the possibilities of social media and more and faster information. KARIGAR used this development as an opportunity. They developed a ‘talking tag’. Via a QR code, consumers can see who made their product. The video below shows how it works.
3. Make to order
More and more companies commit to same day or next day delivery. However, keeping stocks can be very unsustainable. In 2017, luxury brand Burberry destroyed £28.6m worth of unsold goods for this reason. KARIGAR wants to produce only as much as they need, and thus only 'make to order'. Delivery of a piece of clothing can therefore take up to five weeks. “Five weeks can seem like a lifetime to many. But in the world of handmade, it’s called worth the wait.”
4. Local public transport
Local transport in India is known for its chaos of tuc tucs, motorbikes, and cars. KARIGAR does not want to add another vehicle to the busy roads and uses public transport for its business. Indian busses bring the wovens to the tailors. With this, they reduce their carbon footprint with 10kg. “By doing this we accept the risk that we might lose a bag of wovens.”
5. Benefits for Indian artisans
Development, an issue where a lot of people puzzle about. Especially with long and distant supply chains, it is hard to ensure a positive impact on local communities. KARIGAR works closely with Indian artisans and pays them a reasonable salary. This impacts the workers and their families directly. “We see that the women that work for us are investing in their own personal development and in higher education for their children.”