During our trip to India in February 2018, we stopped by a boutique in Jaipur and came across a coat made entirely from offcuts. As chance would have it, Bhaavya, the owner of the brand was there to share about her collection. As a zero waste fashion brand, IRO IRO takes offcuts that would usually be trashed and weaves them into a textile of their own before overdyeing it with natural dyes like indigo and kashish created by artisans of Bagru. Based in Jaipur, Bhaavya Goenka and the artisan partners of IRO IRO work with leftover cotton, linen and denim. Since the inception of her brand, Bhaavya has upcycled over 1,500 kg of scrap.
From there conversation beget collaboration and we created a limited range of zero waste coats made entirely from 30kg of our production offcuts and roll-ends. The idea, beyond minimizing waste, is to give new life to our offcut fabrics.
Here are 7 questions asked, and answered by Bhaavya of IRO IRO:
What is the inspiration behind IRO IRO? What did the journey look like to get you where you are now?
My mother: her practices and the waste itself. My mother always had an issue with waste. As a child psychologist and an educator, she made sure that one of her legacies is being conscious. She would take up waste made within our factory and make things out of it such as hangers and baskets with the help of the women who would come for checking packing finishing. All my design projects at design school in some way or another utilized waste. This seed was further watered by a TED talk I came across during my initial research. This talk stated to appoint expert waste managers and upcycle designers at all garment factories and it was given by one of the most inspirational icons Orsola De Castro.
Why zero waste? How did you decide on this as a way to create impact?
Zero waste is Indian and I wanted the world to know that. Before colonization and this inflow of fitted garment, textiles were our currency and India made up of 70% of the world market share. We would cut our textiles in accordance with a garment that would give a very rich drape. First and foremost, this technique leaves out no further waste and second it gives us the opportunity as Indians to reclaim our position as just not the makers but the designers of expert, elevated craftsmanship.
Are there certain challenges with this?
Definitely. However, doing anything is challenging so might as well give our best to the challenges.
How do you see IRO IRO growing?
We have had amazing opportunities of collaborations and get different perspectives from people who have inspired this journey on how they see us growing. Right now we are in the middle of re-branding ourselves as indo ito (Indian thread). My sister 5 years my senior and a fashion designer is on board. We are looking at designing and making the essential Indian Basic.
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
Practising humanity. For me, it’s just fashion or clothing. The practices that constitute being “sustainable” I believe are just acts of humanness. People not following these practices should use the labels of “unsustainable” or “unethical”.
What do you hope for the industry of craft in Asia?
I hope for craft and being a craft person to be considered respectable profession, something that is sought after. I hope for “designed and made in India” to be sought after. I hope we are all able to build a better quality of life. I hope that we start talking about evolving the craft not just preserve it. I hope that we can give each other the respect we want someone else to give us.
Evolution. Searching for the right ways to evolve. I felt this quote articulates how I feel “to invent the future and re-discover the past is the same gesture”. More than preservation or adopting the new there is a need to look back and learn lessons from the successes and the mistakes.
Read more about the Zero Waste Coats here.