Sustain catches up with the well travelled, Ethical Fashion Designer Vino Supraja
Vino Supraja is championing the catwalk as well as fashion's ethical issues, in between her busy schedule she talks to Sustain about about 'The Thirty Wears Rule' and biggest inspiration Mahatma Ghandi...
Hi Vino, from the bio in your website it looks like you’ve had quite the life! Tell our readers about yourself, where you’re from and your brand Vino Supraja!
I am VinoSupraja. I belong to a small town called Vandavasi in the South of India. I am an Architect turned Fashion Designer. I studied Fashion in IFA Paris, Shanghai, and studied Fashion Marketing in ESMOD, Dubai. My collections have walked on the ramp in Shanghai Fashion Week, Brooklyn Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, and several other runways and have won International Awards and recognitions. I have recently launched my Sustainable and Ethical fashion brand based in UAE, enjoying every bit of my life as an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to create your own ethical brand?
Like any other fashion designers, I was attracted to the runways, red carpets, glitz, and glamour of the fashion industry until I met my teacher, Mr. Jean Micheal, in Esmod, Dubai. He exposed me to the other side of fashion. The truth hit me very hard. I couldn’t take the fact that I am part of an industry that is causing enormous pollution on earth, a sector that is ruthless on the environment. That planted the seed in my mind to start an ethical, sustainable brand.
What inspirations from the world do you take and put into your collections?
My collections are inspired by Architecture, History, Literature, Culture, and Art. I have lived in many countries so far, and that influences my aesthetics.
How does your brand use ethical and sustainable practices within the making and transporting of your clothes?
The fabrics are all hand-loomed in traditional methods by a group of weavers from an ancient weaving village that is adopted by an organization in Tamil Nadu, South India. Our weavers are mostly women who weave in an eco-friendly green building. Delicious food is being served in a community canteen every day. These are the people who are into weaving for many generations now. We have GOTS certification starting from the cotton fibre to the final fabrics. The same community also makes the garments. I have met them all, stayed with them, had food every day in the canteen, and made sure these people are happy at their workplace.
How do you go about educating your consumers about minimising their waste?
Educating consumers is the key to sustainable fashion. As the market isn’t well aware of what sustainable fashion is and why it is not merely a trend but a necessity. We write regularly on our blog about capsule wardrobes, zero waste lifestyle, and talk about sustainability on every possible occasion. The change is going to happen slowly, but it will happen.
Where did your rule about “each piece of clothing should see at least 30 wears before you think about evicting it from your wardrobe” come from?
‘The Thirty Wears Rule’ is a general thumb rule that many flag bearers of sustainable fashion talk about. I came across this on a TED Talk first and read about it in many places when I was deep-diving into the whole concept of sustainable fashion. I think it is a very effective rule that everyone must follow.
Do you think the fact that this rule is putting an expiry date on clothing is defeating the object of sustainable fashion?
The sad truth is, we are caught into the world of #ootd, and there is a general perception that repeating an outfit is a big blunder. New clothes come with very cheap price tags and people are able to afford it. The old, used garments are being thrown away so easily. As you know in this world, a truckload of garments is being added to landfills as waste every single second. As clothes no longer carry a story, there is no emotional connection with them. We are not buying clothes because they are special, but we are buying because they are on sale. It will be challenging to bring a change by asking people not to buy anything new at all, but attaching a thumb rule to it will definitely increase the life cycle of a garment.
Who/ what are your sustainable influences?
Mahatma Gandhi is my biggest influence. He was the greatest Fashion Warrior this world has ever seen, dedicating a major part of his life towards the welfare of the weavers. He not only preached but lived a minimal life. I can go on and on about Gandhi and his sustainable lifestyle. I belong to the same soil, and I feel it is my duty to carry his vision forward.
What message would you like to tell consumers about sustainable fashion?
Please be mindful of what you are wearing. Every time you buy some clothes for a very low price, think about the people who made that garment for you and their daily wages. Buy clothes because they are unique, not because they are on sale. Please follow a minimal lifestyle. In the current scenario of the world, can’t we all see what matters in the end? Nature knows to hit the reset button when it needs to. The more we burden her, the more often she will reset.
What’s next for you personally and your brand?
I am a child of destiny. I take life as it comes, and I don't plan much ahead. Professionally, I am watching the current COVID-19 scenario and waiting to see how it is going to affect the economic conditions of all the countries. The situation is a little uncertain now for all the businesses. I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying for humankind to bounce back stronger.
Where can our readers find you online and on social media?
You can check out our website and know more about our brand story, production facilities and our collections on www.vinosupraja.com
Find us on Facebook @vinosuprajadesigner and Instagram @vinosupraja