De rigueur of the times we live in, fast fashion as a concept is an embodiment of the 21st-century lifestyle. It does not dig deep into our pockets, is available at the click of a button and caters to our need for instant gratification almost as well as social media. With new collections being displayed every few weeks, the pressure to find the perfect item of clothing has almost disappeared. Because there’s always tomorrow to return and rummage through new stuff. And if tomorrow doesn’t work, you can come back in three months and be just as spoilt for choice.
However, this fairytale has a rather ugly side to it. Fast fashion companies, in an attempt to keep up with the industry trends often put pressure on small factories to produce faster and cheaper. This translates into lower wages and horrible working conditions for the factory workers. Many companies even seek out nations with a record of having subpar labour laws for exactly this reason. Of course, the kind of pressure mass production puts on our existing resources, along with the disposal thereafter, is also a matter of great concern. While many are trying to adopt greener ways, others are trying to introduce them to the world. But if we’re already knee-deep in latest fads introduced to us by the likes of F21 and H&M, how is one supposed to come across these alternatives?
Founded in 2016, IKKIVI is Nivi Murthy’s attempt at creating a global platform for emerging Indian designers who are practising sustainability and slow fashion. All of 29, Nivi realised the problem of overstock early on in her life while she was interning at Steve Madden, after completing her studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “I wanted to do something about it so I started a fashion data analytics platform partnering with a tech company to allow designers to test their products directly with their customers prior to manufacturing”, she tells Homegrown. After building a foundation for her future endeavours, Nivi moved back to India and started ‘IKKIVI’ with the intention of discovering and supporting India’s vast network of independent designers.
Like many, Nivi wasn’t aware of the perils of fast fashion until much later: “I only became aware of slow fashion in 2017 after watching ‘The True Cost’ and immediately decided that it was important for IKKIVI to express these values. Hence, it became our second focus, apart from being a platform for Indian designers.” This lack of awareness is what surprised her beyond measure as Nivi’s education, at one of the foremost fashion institutes in the world, failed to elaborate on this particular aspect of the discipline. Currently, IKKIVI’s social media is trying to do its bit by creating awareness through real-life stories of inspiring individuals living the ‘slow’ lifestyle.
As a founder of an independent venture herself, Nivi recognises the challenges that come with incorporating slow fashion in our daily lives. She understands that the society is divided into those who are aware of slow fashion and those who are not. She elaborates further, “Some don’t care as they are personally not being affected by the hazards of fast fashion, and the rest either lack options or are unable to afford the alternatives as ethical fashion comes with a price. At IKKIVI, we’re tackling this by educating and providing affordable options so that more people can be a part of this movement.”
A curative platform at heart, IKKIVI is currently driven by a team of four passionate women based out of four different places, namely—Bangalore, Goa, Imphal, and Nairobi in Kenya. Each constantly trying to discover new designers through the internet, word-of-mouth, or on-ground exhibitions and boutiques. Of course, for independent designers to be able to afford an entirely sustainable brand is a challenge in itself and IKKIVI is making an effort to encourage these designers to become as ethical and sustainable as they can.
With over 20 designers currently live on their website, IKKIVI has bigger plans of expanding into menswear as well. In order to make sustainable fashion more inclusive and accessible, it will soon start featuring conscious brands that sell a wide variety of products like t-shirts and undergarments.
Safe to say that IKKIVI and its treasure of slow fashion brands might just be the light at the end of the tunnel, in the bleak reality of things.
Feature Image Courtesy: Rhea Gupte for IKKIVI
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