Conversations and visual narratives about ethical clothing
Ongoing personal project to encourage conversation and education about ethical and sustainable fashion, and what we can do to improve our thinking and actions in this direction.
Using a surreal visualisation of floating clothing to assert the beauty and superiority of the sustainable and ethical approach in fashion.
Photography, Digital Art, Creative Direction by Rhea Gupte
IN CONVERSATION WITH KARISHMA SHAHANI-KHAN
I want to start off by congratulating you on the win at London Fashion Week where Ka-Sha alongside five young labels was part of the team which won the International Fashion Showcase Country Award. This is only one of the several awards the label has won over the last few years. Makes me want to take a walk down memory lane to the very beginning.
Pursuing a career in fashion wasn’t something I aspired to do growing up. I wanted to be many different things – an anthropologist, a lawyer, an environmentalist even a veterinarian. Design was something I became interested in over time through interactions with different people and subjects such as Art History, Social Sciences etc. Fashion just seemed to tie it all in together.
I have watched your shows at fashion week and they have always been very specific, unique and directional. I am also a fan of the content you share on social media. Tell me a little bit about how you went about creating the brand as it stands today.
With a focus on design as a form of story telling, Ka-Sha celebrates handcraft and sustainability. The labels’ aesthetics lie in influences from multi-layered cultures and the ever-changing social landscapes of our modern India, obsessed with its past but treading on to create new histories. With a zero-waste policy focussed on merging art with innovation the products tell stories of their makers and their journey interpreting materials based on current situations and needs, with love from India.
We all get acquainted with facts about the fashion industry at some point as we become more aware and informed about the reality we live live in. Was there a specific starting point for you?
I studied at the London College of Fashion and Ethical Fashion was gaining momentum during that time internationally. I cannot remember one specific instance but it was just obviously a necessity. Fashion is a big industry and the fact that we make products that are bought lesser for their functionality and more for their aesthetic appeal reinforces the fact that it is essential we don’t add to the already existing land-fills, filled with unwanted and poor quality clothing.
Is this knowledge something that propelled you to make your label eco-friendly and to go on this journey?
I think it was a combination of this international education but also a sense of Indianness where it has always been about creating heirlooms that can be passed down through generations. For me heirlooms are supposed to have a persona, are individualistic and high on quality – all the keywords we focus on to create sustainable and ethically made products.
What are the hardships you face with this cause?
Educating the customer is a challenge due to the infiltration of sustainability as a trend. Filtering out from the use of the words associated with this theory is a hardship.
If you could tell the whole world something about ethical fashion, what would you like to communicate?
However uninterested you may seem in Fashion, everyone still wakes up and makes certain decisions on what to wear based on their schedule, climate and mood. We don’t realise how impactful Fashion is and how it touches the lives of so many people – the wearer and the maker. Clothing is second to skin so it’s imperative that it is essential – with social connotations, environmental implications, health-related impact, climatic influences.
Our previously featured designer, Kriti from Doodlage would like to ask you, “What can you do to plan your waste production better, to make it sustainable and efficient?”
We have a zero-waste policy already in place. This ensures that no fabric remnants are discarded. Everything goes back into making or embroidering products. We ensure all our production cycles don’t have unnecessary waste to add to the land-fills. Also we work very hard to ensure that our production line works efficiently by focussing on planning out pieces and larger orders placements so as to ensure more work for the weavers of a particular textile and lesser carbon footprints due to less frequent logistics of delivery. We also work very closely with our team focussing a lot on fair trade being a crucial part of producing efficiently and creating a sustainable socio-ecosystem.
I would like to ask you to contribute a question I can ask the next designer I interview for Ethical Threads.
Does the cause that you have taken on with your work also affect and shape decisions in your daily life? If yes, would love to hear about it.