SUSTAINABILITY - I’ve been thinking about this word for a while now and as a maker also asking myself the question - ‘how is making more sustainable?’
Over time the meaning of the word has changed for me from a macro to micro level. The realisation that change truly starts with ourselves. It has made me question about the ways in which we function at Love the World Today. It makes me revisit our core every now and then and stick to it like nothing else matters. That also simplifies decision making.
Of course two of the most critical aspects are
- Sourcing right and the ways of making
- Reducing waste, and upcycling whatever waste is generated into something of value and function
But beyond these measures, our focus has shifted greatly to the things I’m about to mention. These have always been part of our processes but now hold a much higher value because of the contribution they make towards building a sustainable brand.
1. Design elements - Paying attention to how a garment’s usage can be made longer, especially in the case of children since they outgrow clothes so quickly.
Use of elastic waist bands (and ensuring they are of good quality so they last), roomy neck openings, adjustable tie up options, loose yet stylish silhouettes, layering possibilities so outfits are not bound by seasonality and versatility to ensure clothes can be used from occasion wear to casual wear with just a little tweak in styling.
2. QUALITY! - Cannot emphasise enough on this. The chances of clothes reaching landfills or discarded easily is lower if they are made of great quality and if they are designed to love and last. Great design and quality also encourages people to hand down the clothes to another loved one.
Quality comes from investing in durable textiles, skilful un compromised tailoring (for example - the use of french seam finishes, which is more time consuming and expensive but ensures the garment will have fewer chances of tears and rips apart from the fact that it’s these little details that make a difference in finish. Another example is something as basic as providing extra buttons to encourage people to repair and fix instead of discard.
We’ve had customers tell us that LTWT designs have lasted them almost 2+ years (in spite of a growing child) and even after that they’ve been able to pass them on to others.
3. Closing the loop by offering to take responsibility - Providing a solution to the busy ones, the non-creative ones.
Sometimes people do care but may not be able to do much for whatever reasons. This is where as a brand, we step in and offer support beyond the relationship of just a purchase.
For LTWT customers, once your child outgrows a Love the World Today garment, you can send the clothes back to us. We will donate the ones in good condition and upcycle the ones that aren’t. This is our attempt at closing the loop and finding solutions for the complex issues of the fashion industry.
We set this policy out even before we were available for purchase in October 2015. Of course it helps since we started out small and it seemed implementable and manageable at our scale.
To be honest, in over 4 years, we’ve only had three enquiries about clothes being returned and never received any clothes. We are hopeful that this is because in India we still have a system of hand me downs. But we keep reiterating and reminding in our communications to ensure that customers know that they can reach out to us even 2-3 years after purchase.
With this we hope we are able to give you an insight into our approach to sustainability besides our choice to work with organic cotton, handwoven cotton, natural dye, low impact dye textiles, recycled fabric packaging, upcycling waste.
And with this we are also looking at replacing the term ‘sustainable’ clothing brand with ‘mindful’ clothing brand because every choice we make at LTWT is one that must support our vision of creating a mindful, kind, inclusive world.
We are living in a time when entrepreneurship is in its full bloom, people are full of ideas, people want to take risks and dream big, people want to lead a life on their own terms and slog it out to make that happen.
On the outside it does look quite pretty - to lead a life on your own terms. But only people in the start up world know what it takes - the hours, the non existent social life, the struggle, the anxieties, the months without salary.
There’s a lot that we give to our businesses, our so called babies.
But I’ve realised there’s a lot more that my business has given to me in 1.5 years than I could have ever managed on my own.
So here’s writing a letter to my business today.
Dear Love the World Today,
We started out a while back and I honestly didn’t think it would be such a tough and satisfying ride. I always hated the term ‘business’ and I remember being shy of telling the world that I’ve started my own business out of fear of being looked down upon as someone who has sold their soul to the big bad world driven by money. But I’ve seen such a transformation in the past 1.5 years thanks to all that you’ve brought into my life. I now take immense pride in saying that I’m the co-founder of a purposeful business. You’ve given me so much and I must let you know how thankful I am for that,
- Thank you for changing my buying habits. I used to be someone who loved shopping and loved brands. I cannot stand malls anymore. I prefer researching a brand and understanding the make of clothes before buying them - what fabric it uses, where is it stitched and why it costs the way it costs. I’m happier owning a LOT LESSER but knowing that every outfit I wear is made responsibly, will last me long and even though it may not be trendy, it represents me and can be worn in a lot of other ways.
- Thank you for making me hate plastic. I take immense pride in carrying cloth bags when I step down to buy some groceries. I take immense pride in my little steel bottle and copper water bottle that go with me wherever I go. I’ll be honest though that everytime I pack a courier for LTWT, I don’t know how to safeguard the delicate handwoven whites and end up putting those few pieces in seal kings and ofcourse the courier bag itself. I can only hope that these are getting reused by the homes that they go to - to store shoes or paper or pack dabbas.
- My husband made me realise that we can get rid of body washes and move to soaps since we’ll reduce the packaging trash we create. And I happily embraced the idea which I may not have done earlier.
- No more straws for me with coconut water at home.
- I’ve finally mustered the courage to order cloth panty liners.
- I value nature way more than before. I’ve always been a nature lover but I feel a sense of ownership and responsibility now. The world truly is ours and we are nothing but teeny tiny smallies in front of it.
- I’ve met some of the most beautiful and inspiring people through my journey. The guys at Happy Startup School and Ashram Week. All the social entrepreneurs through Unlimited India. And it makes me so happy and hopeful that in spite of all that’s wrong with the world, there are people who care.
- Oh! And my wedding outfits were a dream thanks to you. For all I cared was that these are classic handwoven textiles and nothing synthetic. I know I’m going to use my wedding outfits for years to come.
- I only buy what I absolutely need and love. I care for my things a lot more.
- My new home doesn’t have much storage space because we realised that if we don’t have storage space, we won’t be tempted to buy and hoard. And it’s actually possible to fit your whole world in pretty much a wardrobe.
Of course, the more you read and research on sustainability, it’s like pandora’s box and now I’m beginning to see the true extent of damage we might have caused to the world around us, how every single choice we make (right from the toothbrush we use) affects the planet and I also feel depressed at times that we might have reached a point of no return. But something inside of me tells me that we’ve got to try.
So here it is, a small list of all positive things you’ve brought to my life. They may seem really small but to me they are a big change in who I am and who I am becoming. And that to me is far more important than any other ambition.