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Success Story of Harshita Chandra
“I broke up with fast fashion and you should do too”
I quit my IT career to be a Fashion Sustainability Advocate for a reason- “I love glamour and I truly love clothes”
It was a hard decision to switch my career from an IT Engineer to a Merchandiser without any relevant knowledge as I belong from a white-collar job family background where everyone asks to be as smart as a doctor or an engineer. I was the first one in the entire family to put my foot forward in the fashion industry and I was lucky enough to have got immense support from my family who helped make my dreams into reality.
So as a graduate in Information Technology and a masters in fashion technology from one of the premium fashion design colleges in India- National Institute of fashion technology, New Delhi, I started from the nascent stage and got a chance to work deeply with the best of the industry export houses, Designer Labels, Liaison Offices and Internationally. I was always surrounded by clothes every single day! Be it a fabric sourcing or production sample. I have watched lakhs of clothes getting constructed every season.
Thinking of clothes, here is a quick interesting quail-
“How many times have you bought clothes saying- It was on Sale!
How many times have you bought a dress saying- This outfit can do best for a night out!
“So now just close your eyes and look into your closet. Count how many T-shirts, Dresses, Jeans, Tops, Shirts do you have? How many pairs of shoes do you have?
Now open your eyes & think about what have you pictured.
When I look into my closet, I have 80 T-shirts, 50 dresses, 35 jeans of all shape and color, 50 tops, 25 shirts, and miscellaneous approx. 150 varieties that make a total of 390 garments!
So, I have a closet FULL of CLOTHES but still nothing to WEAR!!
I have uttered the same words out to myself a many a time. Needless to say, that I love fashion and a passion for putting up things together and looking and feeling stylish was always a game for me.”
So my journey started while I was working for huge labels in the industry, I found out that a huge amount of waste which the industry was relatively not mindful are been dumped into the landfills annually. I also realized besides factory waste there were other problems too in the supply chain. I have spoken to many designers, brand managers, suppliers, retailers, and consumers, there is often a lot of finger-pointing that goes on, consumers blames brands for paying such low wages to outsource workers, brands say that the price of their garment is so cheap that over people want to pay, activists organization blames the brands to follow a business model that prioritize profits at low cost and govt watches from the sidelines.
This made me curious to know what’s next? After extensive research on the disposal of clothing every year. I came across that the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world and around 82% of the people do not consider fashion a contributor.
According to UNCTD, the water used by the industry is enough to meet the needs of 5 million people and the microfibre dumped into the ocean is equivalent to 3 million barrels of oil annually. As for carbon emission, the industry is responsible for more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
That’s when I found an upcycle homegrown fashion label where we used factory waste to manufacture bags and accessories. Since the concept was new and lack of awareness for the idea of sustainability, the brand manufactured a capsule collection for a few designers back then. While constant working for the revolution I figured out that the industry is unorganized and the chapter of sustainability can’t be heard alone.
So I came up with the idea of bringing together all sustainable brands on a single platform which believes sustainability is just not a trend but a lifestyle where indulgence in intricacies brings in each product a luxury makeover.
My technological skills came into use when besides creating a sustainable fashion platform, I also integrated science-based sustainable target solutions into it. The Platform was named 'Upcycleluxe' where our vision is to build a huge sustainable lifestyle community, by offering disruptive technologies, enabling innovative and transformative ways of sustainable luxury through the process of change by adding value at each step of product development.
Our mission is to create an ethical, sustainable, and eco-efficient textile & apparel industry. A luxury industry where eco-friendly products are not just seeking a premium image but are products with sustainability reflecting in their luxury value chain. Our sustainable luxury products are life-long products that never go out of fashion making them stand out in the market. Upcycleluxe strives to redefine the odds and bring innovative sustainable products to our consumers.
My vision became even stronger when I was selected for Do School, UN Women's industry disruptor, WeEmpowerAsia program. The industry disruptor cemented my dream and vision and gave us the boost I needed. Apart from this I also deliver my experiences of the fashion industry globally with young entrepreneurs, fashion students, and industry professionals.
Hence, I now introduce myself as a Socialpreneur and a Fashion Sustainability Advocate. Fashion is sexy but how about wearing something biodegradable and yet stylish. Imagine if Fashion goes through an organic transition like wholefoods, a place where you can buy ethically made garments, stylish & yet eco-friendly. Sustainability asks us as humans to consider really deep questions about a personal relationship to nature and the ethics of our actions and strategy used dint really consider this as deeper issues.
Ultimately sustainable fashion is about value, we have to decide what we value. For people who love fashion and love to shop we have to decide how we spend our money and how we care for the clothes we already have, we have outsourced so much in our lives in the form of food and clothing but now it’s time to bring things back home. It is easy to point finger on brands for not having a transparent supply chain or government for not having a landfill tax for instance, but we really have to take responsibility of our choices and there are several ways we become more mindful about fashion by-
Learn the simple art of hand stitching with needle and thread, we all have that in us but we have lost that touch for clothing
Buy second-hand clothes
Things are changing for the better. We are currently in a transitional phase to a new type of fashion industry based on the ecological & holistic principle of closing the loop of material that prioritizes communities, values, and respect for all people in the supply chain.