For Saachi Bahl, sustainability was a concern ever since she delved into manufacturing. When the designer set up her eponymous label in 2015, she was struck by the wastage involved in the production process, and started implementing ways to dial back on the damage by minimising wastage and reducing the carbon footprint of her workshop. “This is when I began researching about sustainability in the garment business. I realised there were only a handful of designers in the country who had taken the plunge and were manufacturing luxury sustainable wear.” Recognising a gap in the market for a one-stop-shop of sustainable, fair-trade and animal cruelty-free contemporary fashion, Bahl put a plan in place. Vogue got in conversation with the designer turned creative director about the launch of her new venture Saahra, a store that champions mindfulness in its essence.
How long were you working on the idea, and what are you hoping to achieve?
Saahra has been a work in progress for a year now. Our process is oriented to satisfy three key goals—to be reliable, contemporary and to uplift. We aspire to take great pride in being reliable, responsible and ethical in our practices. Therefore, a great deal of time, effort and research has gone into filtering the collaborators we work with on various levels, such as their design philosophy, manufacturing methodology, supply chains, quality control, labour working conditions, etc, to ensure they align with the globally recognised parameters of being labelled sustainable and fair-trade.
Secondly, we aspire to break the stereotype that sustainable and eco-friendly clothing is not stylish. That’s why we curate labels and products based on their design language. All products embody the characteristics of being modern, minimal, functional and stylish to match the sensibilities and standards demanded by an urban, modern and well-travelled consumer of luxury goods. In support of our objective to uplift, we stock artisanal hand-crafted products to give the dying indigenous crafts and skills of our craftsmen a platform.
What is unique about the labels you’ve chosen?
All the labels I have chosen are sustainable, but also fair-trade and animal cruelty-free. They are aesthetically modern, classic and minimalistic. Some of them are PETA approved while many use raw materials that are certified organic.
How do you plan to make the concept of a sustainable multi-designer store relatable to those who still aren’t aware of sustainable clothing?
To create awareness about sustainability and sustainable brands, we are hosting events in different parts of the country called the ‘Conscious Effort’ edition. With the help of social and print media, we are encouraging consumers to adopt our motto of ‘Everyday Living Sustainably’ by shifting the way they view and consume fashion. We also have an upcoming ad campaign called ‘Irreplaceable’, sharing the benefits and advantages of choosing sustainable fashion. Our next ‘Conscious Effort’ event will be held on July 14 and 15 at 1, Central Avenue, Maharani Bagh, New Delhi, and will house a number of leading sustainable brands showcasing curated pieces to reflect our minimalism and sophisticated aesthetic.
What are the ethical practices you plan to enforce while running the store?
Our packaging is plastic-free. We seal all purchases with organic beeswax instead of stickers. Our customers have the option to receive an e-invoice. We are also in the process of finalising hangers that are easily decomposable and made from recycled waste. In terms of our partnerships, as mentioned, we are filtering the brands we work with through various parameters to ensure authenticity for our clients.
Who are some of the partners you will be working with in the future?
We are working with some wonderful brands like Anavila, Anomaly, Akaaro, Chola, Lovebirds, Doodlage and 11.11/Eleven Eleven. In the future, I would love to work with labels like Grassroot and Péro, and I look forward to curating works from responsible upcoming designers too.
Do you plan to take the concept to other cities?
Apart from opening stores in other parts of the country, we plan to host events in tier two and tier three cities to create awareness outside metropolises too. We also have plans of taking our ‘Conscious Effort’ edition abroad to showcase the fine skills of our craftsmen, and show the world that the Indian fashion industry is not just about producing garments that make people who wear them look good, but also ensuring that the garment has contributed positively to society and the environment.
Saahra will open its doors to the public on July 16. Address: Suites C-16 and 17, Hotel Suryaa, New Friends Colony, New Delhi
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