Can you tell us a little about who you are, what you do, and what Vritti Designs is?
Vritti: My Name is Vritti Pasricha. I am based in Mumbai, India. I am graduate in Textile Design and post graduate in Apparel Production and Merchandising Management. After working in corporate for brands like Levi, Triumph and Amante, I have realised there is a lot more that can be done to reduce carbon footprint. This is how I started doing research on textiles which are environment friendly which led to the birth of Vritti Designs 6 years back. Through Vritti Designs we want to represent work of rural weavers and artisans at the global level. We work with organic and eco-friendly raw materials like cotton, silk, linen, hemp, nettle, wool. We produce hand-woven textiles product through rural weavers.
Mumbai! A city close to my heart. Now that we know the inspiration behind Vritti Designs, who makes these textiles, and the materials used, I have some follow up questions. Are you an artist at heart? I ask because your company values artisans and what they create. How do you find these people? Tell us about the people who make your products. #whomademyclothes
Vritti: Yes, you can say that I am an artist at heart. Since childhood I have loved painting, I have tried making things with different old vintage fabrics so you can say that I feel very connected to these weavers and artisans at every level. I regularly visit rural areas to meet weavers and artisans. I understand what special skills they have which is different from other weavers as you know India has a very vast majority of skilled people in the texiles industry. I visit them, I stay with them, I learn about their culture and skills. 90% or our weavers and artisans are women as I support women empowerment.
I feel the same way. I appreciate art over manufactured chaos. My mom once said to me that I can make gold from waste, when she saw me make a diary out of waste paper. I would say the same about you. I agree that India has a diverse set of textile artistry. You also mentioned that you visit rural areas to meet weavers and artisans. What’s the difference between a weaver and an artisan and what places has your work taken you and what have you learnt from them?
Vritti: Weavers are those who weave the fabric and an artisan is someone who creates things manually with skill to make it beautiful as well as functional. I have been to northern, western, southern, and eastern parts of India to meet weavers and artisans. India is very diverse in textiles so each and every region in India has its own speciality of textile products. About learning, hmmm, I have learnt something very important from them. That is to be content with whatever you have and to be patient, whatever you create , create it with love, passion, and love without expecting anything in return. One of the very important lesson you can say for me from these visits is to create products with love and care and to be patient. If you see now a days everyone is in some kind of rush whether it buying, learning or creating. The best example is fast fashion.
It must be an amazing experience to actually be with the people who make your clothes, something a common man doesn’t get to experience. I’m glad companies like you exist that can bring that to us. I truly believe that companies have a far greater responsibility and influence in this world, and it is they who can make us consumers conscious about the issues faced in this industry and be a part of the positive impact that the companies have on the people they work with and the environment they work in. Vritti Designs is a socially conscious company and is unlike the fast fashion that we see around. India Textile Industry being the second largest employer after the Agriculture Industry, unfair labor practices and human trafficking are pervasive in the country. For example, Sumangali is one such form of child labor forbidden but practiced in Tamil Nadu. How do you think such issues are being handled?
Vritti: I totally agree with you that as an individual I get to experience such wonderful things when it comes to know about who are making your clothes but for consumers it is very difficult to visit these places, so thats how organisations like Vritti Designs can be a medium to make our customer aware of how the clothes are made and who makes them. In today’s world where customer want new stuff every month as a result of which fast fashion started. To meet customers’ expectations, brands are making things on a very fast pace and in doing that they forget about a few facts which need to be considered while making these clothes such as no child labour, fair trade practices, clean working environment etc. To stop this madness of fast fashion our customers needs to be educated or aware about the effect of this has on our environment and the people. An issue like child labour in Tamil Nadu can be also solved once our customers demands to know where there clothes are made and who made them. It has to start from the very end of this chain.
You mentioned the materials used to manufacture your products, but what about dyes and water? How ecofriendly are the dyes used and what does Vritti Designs do to conserve water? Also, from your years of experience, how do you think is the Indian Textile Industry doing with regards to recycle and reuse of process water? Are outdated washing systems still used in the industry?
Vritti: We dye products with natural dyes like onion peels, pomegranate skin, turmeric, flowers etc. We follow processes which does not require any chemical use. In fact we use organic cotton to make our fabrics. In India, scenario is now changing, a lot of organisations and factories have started recycling water and harvesting it. It is changing.
You talked about how fast fashion should be dealt with from the very end of this chain. Can you tell us about Vritti Designs’ supply chain and how you keep it traceable and transparent?
Vritti: A lot of new fibers like banana, modal, hemp, nettle are being used so that there is less use of water and less chemicals involved in textile processing. Vritti Designs business model allows us to work with designers who want to make their collection in India. Our clients i.e. designers or concept stores owners, are allowed to visit our weavers, artisans if they wish to know about the processes we follow. By doing this we are very transparent when it comes to showing them about the whole chain who works in making the products.
I once went to a sari shop in Mumbai for my wedding. I asked them where the saris came from and they had no answer. In fact, they got quiet defensive!
Vritti: We need to understand that practices which have been followed since decades will take a lot of time to change. We can’t expect changes to happen overnight. With the time and patience things will change. People are getting more and more aware about these facts. We need to make consumers aware about how fast fashion is affecting our environment and ultimately human beings so they can start questioning the brands on the how their products are made.
How do you label your products? Labeling products can help raise consumer awareness and help consumers choose greener products. Are there any certifications or labels that Indian Textile Industry has embraced? What will be your advice to the consumers?
Vritti: We do have labels and tags in all our products. We tag our product with the specifications such as raw material used, whether fabric is hand-woven or power-loom, natural dyed or chemical dyed, and how to wash. These labels also recognizes that the product is organic or ecofriendly made by rural weavers and artisans.
Are your products and practices certified by a third party?
Vritti: There are different certifications for organic or handmade products. For example, for organic is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification and for hand-made fabric is the Handloom Mark. We work with rural artisans in different regions and through different processes so it is very difficult and not affordable to get our products certified at the moment. In the future, we definitely would like to develop a system for it. However, for raw materials and yarn like organic cotton we get certified organic cotton. The designers we work with we get lab test done for fabrics if they wish to confirm this.
What do you think about zero waste and how do you incorporate the concept in your work?
Vritti: Zero waste is very good concept and we are already using it in some of our projects. We do not throw the fabric which is leftover after cutting of garments as we use that left over fabric in making scarves, fusions, and bags.
It is very tempting to buy something cheap. Before starting this company, did you face the dilemma of wanting to buy a sustainable product but also wanting it cheap? How does the market look like in India for sustainable fashion? Why are your products expensive as compared to fast fashion and why is it worth it?
Vritti: To be frank I have always been a person who prefers quality over quantity. So I have never given importance to something which is cheap but is of poor quality. For me quality is always an important factor. I believe that less is more. In India, people are getting more aware about sustainable products such as for example, Khadi. Sale of Khadi products have been on an increase in India since our Prime Minister started promoting it. Our products are expensive because they are made from handmade and natural dyed fabrics. The process is time and labour intensive. More over, we follow fair trade practices and we do not negotiate with our weavers and artisans.
I love Khadi myself. Sometimes I would go to Khadi Bhandar in South Bombay to get material for my dresses. I often shop from Fab India. It’s good to know I have another shop to go to – Vritti Designs. Does Vritti Designs have physical shops or is it just online?
Vritti: We do not have physical shop. We sell online only.
For our student readers out there, could you tell us a bit about your career choices and how they led you here? We know you are a graduate in Textile Design and post graduate in Apparel Production and Merchandising Management. Could you tell us a bit more about this and what your advice would be for the young people out there seeking direction? I also noticed that you were seeking interns.
Vritti: Yes, we are looking for interns. I have worked with corporates for 5 years but after seeing the effect of the chemicals used in textiles and fast fashion, I wanted to do something as an individual to contribute a bit from my side to save the environment. Being a nature lover and textile lover, I was curious to find out new ways of making textiles products which led me to here today. I would say only one thing to the youth of today is what ever you do, do it with love, care and passion.
Well put. Where do you see Vritti Designs in the future?
Vritti: It’s not about Vritti designs, it’s about the people we work with, especially women. We want to see them grow along with their skills and art. We want them to be in a position where they don’t have to worry about their future.
I thank Vritti for her time. You can read here more about how Vritti Designs has a positive impact on the people who make their textile products and also on our environment. You can also reach out to Vritti directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about products or internships. Follow her on Twitter @vrittidesigns. Shop Organic and eco-friendly products from Vritti Designs: https://vrittidesigns.com/product-category/apparels/dresses/