Sustainable Fashion Designer Kriti Tula Tells Us Recycled Stories From Her Wardrobe
- IWB Post
- January 31, 2019
Second chances do come your way. Like trains, they arrive and depart regularly. Recognizing the ones that matter is the trick. Jill A. Davis
I might have taken it a little too far with that quote, but you get what I am trying to say, right? This fashion designer is giving clothes a second chance by recycling them, and to the humanity – a second call to board tomorrow.
Kriti Tula is the founder of Doodlage, a company that creates a blend of sustainable and exclusive high street fashion. She is hard-working, fierce and a woman on a mission. She took a million different jobs to sustain Doodlage and now has finally managed to focus on it entirely.
She believes that recycling has always been a deeply rooted tradition in our lives. This could go a long way if a lot more focus could be given to people who are bickering the fashion industry, and receiving help from the private and public sectors would be great. Here are her ideas on sustainability and her vision for the future.
When did you realize that garment waste is becoming a serious problem?
As a designer in the industry, you cannot ignore it. I have worked in various mass production units starting from my college days in 2007, and since then I worked with different exporters, printing units, and designers. Every time I worked with them, I could see the amount of fabric that goes to waste at every step.
Also, the outside exterior is cut. For example, the garments are received in square shapes, and the T-shirt shape is cut out, 16 % of fabric goes in waste at that point. If you multiply these numbers with so many brands, it’s crazy. It was a no-brainer for me to create a brand that pushes towards recyclable fabric and works with things that are already produced. I want to optimize each fabric that has already been produced.
What challenges did you face while building Doodlage?
A lot of them. I started working on something that didn’t have a supply or delivery chain before. When I started, I approached companies that I had worked with earlier to give me the discards. But once they learned what I was using that waste for, I was charged for it, which otherwise would have any way gone to a landfill. I cannot just go to the market and pick up fabrics. I wanted to work with post-consumer waste, but I felt Indian market wasn’t ready.
When I did a few exhibitions, there was an acceptance but hesitation from consumers to pay for something that was worn by somebody already and now looks like a different product. Even to come to a conclusion about what we should make, how to price the product in the right way all that were great challenges. I have overcome many of them in the past year and reached this stage.
Tell us the story of any recycled attire from your wardrobe.
My first garment for Doodlage was my dad’s very old blazer. It was something he had for 15 years, and it was the first blazer he got. It was very close to his heart, and he wasn’t ready to part ways with it. Good news that he couldn’t fit in it anymore (laughs). So, I then made it into a jacket for myself as the first sample for Doodlage.
And, what was your transition from quick disposable fashion to sustainable choices like?
I was wearing only disposable fashion until I became aware of the practices of the fashion industry. Once I became a designer, on a very personal level, I started practicing sustainable fashion. However, I didn’t think I would be able to start a brand this early in my life that focuses on ethical fashion.
Where should we start from?
Stop buying excessively. Also, switch to buying more ethical clothing.
Ethnic brands are quite expensive and not everyone can afford them.
A lot of ethical brands are expensive because they are working on a very labor-intensive model. They are making sure their workers have good working conditions and are getting paid enough. There are so many ethical brands working with handlooms and helping to keep the arts of our country alive. So this excessive cheap buying that is so polyester based and the fabric is so cheap that it cannot lead to any productive product even post-consumer usage needs to stop. The quality is not even good enough to sustain very long thus leading to quick disposal.
People need to invest in smaller brands that have a heart and a story and will sustain for much longer. Move away from the concept of not wearing a garment again, there is always an option to style it in different ways. Get creative with it. If there’s a problem with your garment, try to fix it. It’s not fashionable to keep buying and just storing it in wardrobes. It costs the planet a lot at this moment.
Any favorite mainstream brands moving to sustainable fashion?
There are a lot of brands doing this already. H&M, for example, is getting into more ethical fabric by reducing the polyester or using recycled polyester. They have an initiative called ‘I collect’ for collecting garments to recycle. They do organic cotton silhouettes as well, and eventually, they also have the vision to use sustainable fabric, like fabric made out of orange peels or food product waste. A lot more fashion brands need to adopt and adapt to it, and H&M has given a start to it.
What is your current collection about?
My current collection is called Dreams and Dystopia. Every garment has a very chaotic under layer with patchwork and grids which represent the urban situation like fights, wars, over dumping, over-consumerism, etc. It has another top layer of flowers which are hand embroidered and pose a hope that if people make better choices, it can lead to a better future.
Tell us about your dreams from dystopia.
To be able to impact enough people to push them to adopt a healthier lifestyle and designers to work towards more ethical fashion. Also if I could help people to find a cause, they can associate with and strive to do more for the current situations rather than just thinking about it.
You were a part of Lakme Fashion week, must have been fun! Tell us about your backstage experience.
Backstage is always a very stressful time. This time I ended the show so by default you are using the models from the first round and my garments had a lot of layers. One of my models walked without stockings. A lot of hustle bustle. Everyone was scared if they would reach on time. Backstage is very contrary to the ramp that is so calm. You literally have 4 minutes to change from one outfit to another.
How was it different from the first time?
Extremely different. Today we are more confident about what we are showcasing. In 2015, I started retailing, and I knew what my retail line was going to look like. But when you are doing a show it’s more about communicating the mood of the collection. Back then the validation that I looked for changes your outlook but by now I know my direction.
What is your idea of sustainability?
Sustainability is a lifestyle, not a garment or a product specifically. It’s what you eat, how you travel, what you wear and all that. Sustainable choices is a change of your lifestyle. The basics would be trying to grow your own vegetables or products you use for your skin. It’s a slower lifestyle. Your work can be hectic, but your lifestyle choices go a long way.
And, how do you reconnect with nature?
I always travel. It’s something that I cannot rejuvenate without. My mother comes from a place called Ranikhet in Uttarakhand. If I cannot escape for a holiday, I go there to spend a few days. I recently went to Vietnam, the entire landscape was extremely exquisite. There’s a lot of learning every time I travel. I try to explore what their country is known for, what kind of handloom, what kind of people, all of it. It’s fun and challenging at times. It helps me to also incorporate some of it into my designs.
Give us a sneak peek into your creative process.
It is very essential to start from the raw materials because we need to know what the fabric looks like. It’s not something we choose, it is something we find because these are things coming from somebody else’s production. We don’t go and pick but search for and hunt. Once this is done, I decide the mood of the selection. After the mood is established, I start designing my final silhouettes.
I have already started making a pile of clothes for donation and taken my vow of shopping carefully not carelessly. Let me know when you do that too.
First published on Dec 6, 2017.