“Sustainability is the way forward for any fashion business to survive and thrive in this day and age. Consumers are conscious and asking questions on the provenance of raw materials and the ethics behind the manufacturing of products. We cannot fool our consumers anymore with a greenwashing facade, they are very aware, switched on and clear about their buying needs,” says Dina Udupa, Founder of the luxury label brand by the same name.
Alumnus of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, Dina studied fashion buying and merchandising.
She aims to educate her consumers about the importance of slow fashion and the need to buy less. She advocates the ethos to buy quality over quantity by using ethically sourced sustainable materials for her apparel. “My aim with every collection is to use natural fabrics as much as I can. Apart from this, I use organic cotton and ethically sourced silk.“
Sharing her origin story, she says, “I have been designing and making clothes for myself for a very long time. Friends and family over the years would prod me to start my own business as they liked my designs. I also felt there was a gap in the market here in the UK for sustainable sourced minimalistic Indian clothes and accessories catering to the discerning western clientele who love Indian fashion but with toned down and pared-back aesthetic. Hence, I decided to take the plunge and launch my brand online in December 2019.”
Dina further shares her design philosophy saying “ I am very inspired by the minimalistic design approach of Scandinavia; which is in stark contrast to the maximalism of India. So, the focus for me is more on fabrics and patterns; I tend to lean towards clean lines, simple silhouettes, and a muted color palette. I try to blend this design philosophy in my clothes and accessories; marrying western sensibilities with Indian silhouettes.”
Pricing for accessories start at £35 and go up to £55, and clothes start from £75 to £375. Based in London, the products are available only online in the UK and globally.
Talking about the challenges she faces as a leader with the malpractices happening within the fashion industry, Dina expresses her concern saying, “The term ‘Greenwashing’ is being rampantly used these days in regard to the big high street fashion businesses. It is giving many businesses a facade of being environmentally friendly which is a principle I don’t believe in. I feel the big giants have a global influence to create real change within the infrastructure of the fashion industry and encourage the same concerning consumer habits on an unprecedented scale.”
Being an advocate of slow fashion, she aims to create timeless designs and garments that can be treasured for years to come, reinterpreted, and restyled; thereby promoting the longevity of the lifecycle of my pieces. “My use of natural and organic fabrics in the collection also goes a long way in fighting the issues of environmental damage,” says Dina.
COVID-19 disruption has been extremely challenging for MSMEs, and the recovery can take some time, Dina shares her challenges saying,” I rely heavily on pop up events and fairs to showcase my collection especially as I don’t have a physical store presence.
COVID-19 has put a hold on these events for now. In conjunction with a few other small local businesses, I have formed an online platform wherein we can continue to showcase our products to a live audience via Zoom video presentations. Every participating business at the event gets a stipulated time to showcase their product and services. We have been doing this event over the lockdown period, heavily promoting it on social media. We started with five local businesses and now have over 200 businesses and an audience of approximately 800 viewers.”