28-year-old Devyani Kapoor started out like many of us. Growing up with a childhood dream of pursuing journalism, she found herself shuffling within the media industry, unable to find something that would hold her interest for long. However, alongside pursuing jobs in journalism and later in the advertising industry, Kapoor was also running a simple blog which she used to create fashion content for herself. A woman of varied interests, she didn’t actually take her blog very seriously until September 2014 when she decided to quit her job to discover her own creativity. “Only when I once checked the backend of the website, I realised I had visitors from all over the world coming to read what I was creating. And that’s when ‘Breviloquent’ was officially born,” she shares.
Giving up fast fashion came as a natural turning point in her career. Working with a wide range of independent fashion labels opened her eyes to the importance of slow fashion as well as slow living. Ever since then, there just has been no looking back. In fact, today, Kapoor has gone beyond the constraints of her virtual blog and currently runs a unique travelling pop-up that promotes smaller and ethical fashion labels and independent artists across India.
“Every time a small, ethical brand came to me for creating content, they would have very little funds to spend on actually making their brand. I instantly knew, I had to create a platform for ethical, slow, sustainable brands and help as many people know about the amazing work they do”, she tells Homegrown. And what better than to actually take these brands to the people who were interested? “That’s how the name ‘Shuffling Suitcases’ came about. We would shuffle our suitcases which came with some of the best ethical brands and travel across the world”, she adds.
Since Kapoor has always been an art appreciator at heart, she didn’t think twice before adding another side to Shuffling Suitcases - one that would find underground artists from across India and help them sell their art to a befitting audience.
The first edition of Shuffling Suitcases was held in Kolkata in May 2017. “I did it as a one woman army, right from designing to marketing to calling influencers to pitching to brands to finding a venue to paying for everything to making it happen.,” she says. The result obviously was a phenomenal display of ethical lifestyle options that managed to intrigue even those who weren’t as aware. Today, Shuffling Suitcases is run by 4 strong women all working towards one cause - sustainability. The desire to promote small fashion labels and artists, who otherwise would not be able to afford such ambitious marketing, and spread awareness about slow fashion is what unites them. So far, the initiative has worked with over 100 brands, both Indian and international, through 7 editions. Some of the brands include Twofold, Sui by SueMue, Msafiri, The Sufi Studio etc.
One of the main challenges of curating a lineup of entirely ethical brands is trying to find the most honest ones as, in Kapoor’s experience, many brands claim to be ethical but when asked, their story says otherwise. “The selection process takes about 2 months where we go through their stories, meet them if possible, have endless conversations about how they produce what they produce, where it happens, who does it etc.”, she says. Shuffling Suitcases also doesn’t take any commission from the brands that is provides a platform to. “I like to create an experience, more than just selling brands. Which is why we have happily converted so many people from fast to slow fashion and it makes me feel absolutely proud of what Shuffling Suitcases does”, she adds.
But beyond just bridging the gap between creators and consumers, Shuffling Suitcases also helps create awareness in the society. Every pop-up encourages a free Q&A session with the brands, Kapoor herself conducts workshops and keeps her social media open for queries. “The movement is getting bigger and better and I can see so many people wanting to be a part of it”, says Kapoor.
When questioned about the affordability of slow fashion and how most of India still can’t afford to make the switch, she has an understandably succinct response, “There is a reason why it’s so expensive and once you know that you won’t think twice. After all, a dress shouldn’t really cost a life now, should it?”
As for 2019, Kapoor informs us about some really big plans that she has in store, “We have the entire schedule for the next year ready. New cities, new brands, a whole lot of new stories to be told, and even a new country this time!”
Look out for Shuffling Suitcases’ 8th edition which will be held on 2-3rd March at Pioneer Hall in Bandra. You can also follow it on Facebook.
If you enjoyed this article, we suggest you read: