Musing through the designer’s conscious and compassionate thoughts on sustainable fashion

The PETA awarded Ahmedabad-based designer Purvi Doshi who gave voice to the #iwearcrueltyfreeclothing movement succinctly talks about her motivation, collections, and her utterly inspiring journey in the direction of sustainability. Here’s what she has to say.

Photo credits: Purvi Doshi

IFM: Let's start with your fashion story. When did you realise that you wanted to work in fashion and your inspiration behind it?

PURVI: Being born to a humble family, self-reliance and independence became integral parts of my personality. The designer in me was born at the age of 18 when I dumped the tailors who stitched my clothes and decided to stitch a garment for myself, which made me so happy and content when I wore it. Each time I walked the college corridors wearing the garment designed and stitched by me, I felt no less than a showstopper. With appreciation pouring from friends and well-wishers around, I decided to make more outfits, eventually making outfits for friends too. The journey with fabrics, threads, needles, designs and ideas finally reached its destination at Label Purvi Doshi

IFM: Today, Purvi Doshi is a well-established name in ecologically sustainable clothing and fashion but back in 1992 when you started the label, conscious fashion was only a budding ideology, how did sustainability hit you?

PURVI: Back in 1992 when I started my label, I never knew about sustainable fashion. It was 5 years back when I saw a video of Silkworms burning alive while making silk, I decided to stop silk completely. That was my first step towards sustainable fashion, post that we kept on researching more and more about sustainable fashion which made us realise a lot of facts about the pollution created by the textile industry. That is when I decided that I want my label to be completely sustainable and cruelty-free fashion label.

IFM: With the growing awareness and number of sustainable fashion brands, do you think people have actually started recognizing and accepting sustainability viz a viz fast fashion? How do you see the Indian fashion market evolving 5 years down the line?

PURVI: Yes with the increased awareness in people, they have started accepting sustainable fashion viz fast fashion, but still there is a long way to go to completely put a stop to fast fashion. In the last 5 years due to an increase in sustainable fashion brands, yes the awareness has increased which has resulted in an evolution in the Indian fashion market. People have now started adopting cotton even in their bridal trousseau, also for parties, brunches instead of heavy silk kurtas people have started adopting sustainable cotton clothing.

Photo credits: Purvi Doshi

IFM: We really appreciate the motto of your label 'Looking fabulous should feel great'. Tell us about the challenges you had to face in establishing the same with your customers.

PURVI: The biggest challenge was to combat a commercially viable fabric like silk with a handspun and handwoven organic fabric. The point was to find the right flow and feel in a fabric that is design-friendly and wearable. Another challenge was finding naturally dyed fabrics and the disadvantages that come along with these. While natural colours are good for the planet and humans, they can fade and bleed fast. Our production cycle also becomes a hurdle at times as the process is slow - a single garment takes 3-6 months to get ready with hand-embroidered work being done in the remote villages of India. Also, educating our clients and customers on the importance of each garment, which is made with a conscious effort in saving the planet, no cruelty towards animals and the revival of the art and craft. They don’t realise that their wardrobes act as a preservation space of the art each time they buy a Purvi Doshi outfit. 

Photo credits: Purvi Doshi

IFM: We see a lot of Bollywood celebs wearing your label, who do you think can be the face of the label Purvi Doshi and why?

PURVI: No one in particular, but someone who values Indian art and crafts, someone who really understands and values the whole procedure of being a sustainable and vegan fashion brand.

IFM: How do you blend luxury with sustainability?

PURVI: Sustainable fashion is luxury. It’s a myth that sustainable fashion is only available in casual dresses. We have been working on sustainable fashion since past 5 years and we have been creating formals, contemporary clothing. We have also recently created a bridal sustainable line.

Photo Credit: Purvi Doshi

IFM: Would you like to give our readers a little teaser about your upcoming collections for the year?

PURVI: We have adopted a beautiful 500-year weave called Kutch weave in last winter. We started with one loom and now we have 10 looms working on the same line. We would be creating a beautiful contemporary collection with the same weave. Along with that, we are also working with Mirror embroideries in a very different way.

IFM: While we talk about the beautiful pieces from your collections, how can we not mention the artisans and craftsmen who make them? We would like to know about the special efforts Purvi makes for her team.

PURVI: Behind every art, there are skilled artisans, craftswomen, and craftsmen. Their needles are like wands that wield magic on the fabric they touch with care and purity. The skill of the human hand showcases the beauty of their crafts with delightful results. It is vitally important that the hands that produce our designs are able to support themselves and their families. It has been our constant endeavour to keep the livelihood of these magic makers in perspective. Not only do we want to make ecologically sustainable clothing, but we also want to empower people to give them a livelihood and allow them to live their best life. We not only adopt our art we also adopt our artisans. Our creations are an innate tribute to these arts and the artisans whose unmatched dedication gives meaning to it. "Looking fabulous should feel great!"

Photo credits: Purvi Doshi

IFM: We are sure that your journey from Silk to No Silk will inspire a lot of budding designers, what message would you like to share with them?

PURVI: It takes around 3500 silkworms to make one meter of silk. We humans keep on talking about problems with bigger animals like elephants, tigers but we don’t talk about silkworms because they are a smaller creature and there is no awareness about the process of making silk. I would just like to say one thing to the budding designers, “Being fashionable does not mean you compromise the lives of other living beings, you must learn to co-exist!”

IFM: Your label's zero waste strategy starting from ensembles to visiting cards is commendable. Did you ever think of starting a vegan cafe at your store?

PURVI: No, never thought of opening a vegan cafe at my store.

Photo credits: Purvi Doshi

IFM: What would be your special recommendation to IFM readers for their summer wardrobe from Purvi Doshi label?

PURVI: Easy breezy summer short dresses in ivory from our Spring Summer 2019 collection Marine Runway.

IFM: On this World Environment Day, what message would you like to give to encourage a clean and green environment?

PURVI: On this World environment day, I would just like to say every human being should do their bit to preserve and protect the environment and earth. If every human starts thinking on those lines, we could successfully save the environment which will be good for our future generations.

Photo credits: Purvi Doshi

Find Purvi Doshi online or visit her Instagram to stay updated with her upcoming collections.

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