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Vik Manchanda
Interview

Sana Rezwan Sait

10.20.14

Sana Rezwan is no stranger to the fashion industry with years of experience in the international luxury fashion market. Rezwan logged time in the PR, marketing and buying departments of Stella McCartney, Jasmine DiMilo, Giorgio Armani and Liberty while living in London prior to launching her high-end concept shop, Maison, in India. She started Indelust, an e-commerce aiming to bring ethically sourced fashion and home decor from emerging designers on the Indian Subcontinent to a global audience, with her husband and business partner in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory disaster. Their goal is to maintain a fashion business with a social conscience while introducing the world to the exciting and modern burgeoning design culture currently happening on the Indian Subcontinent.

Interview

Can you tell us about Indelust?

Indelust is a curated site for ethically sourced fashion, art and home décor from the Indian Subcontinent. We are currently focused on sourcing product from emerging designers and artisans that are based in India and Pakistan and look to expand to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

What inspired this new venture?

Our aim is to bring awareness to what we call “slow” fashion. This means supporting handmade, hand-loomed or hand-woven goods over mass-produced, factory-made products. It also means taking into account all parts of the supply chain from procurement to design and production. We aim to be a business that focuses on positive social impact on every level.

Your fashion world experience is extensive – how did your previous roles influence Indelust?

Having been part of the international luxury fashion industry for so many years, I was drawn to India’s rich history in craft and handmade goods. I felt it was important to create a platform that showcases our tradition in today’s perspective.

Why did you decide to focus only on providing access to designers employing sustainable techniques?

Unlike other ethical fashion e-commerce stores, some of our designers who meet our fashion criteria are not necessarily focused on social impact. We feel that if we work with these up-and-coming designers to begin incorporating socially responsible practices to their business model, they can scale up sustainably, which in turn would benefit the people who work for them, their families and their communities. In the West we call this ethical fashion, but in places like the Indian Subcontinent, shedding light on the supply chain is still a revolutionary concept.

How do you select the designers featured on Indelust?

I really look for simplicity and functionality in design – that is key to the aesthetic of Indelust.

How does the Indian fashion industry differentiate between sustainable resources and non-sustainable?

Many of the designers in India have access to a wealth of traditional crafting techniques. For instance we have over 22 different embroidery methods that are specific to each region in India and hundreds of different types of handspun yarns, natural dying and block printing techniques that are reminiscent of centuries-old traditions. Some of these haven’t stood the test of time, but the few clusters that are around today are a testament to our heritage. It is a question of choosing to support and revive these crafts over purchasing cheaper machine-made goods.

What are the most common misconceptions about sustainable fashion?

That it can’t be cool!

Who do you think is your target audience with the new site?

Women and men who really love design. They are socially responsible, even though they are not passionate activists consumed by a cause. They like fashion, but they aren’t dictated by labels or trends.

What are the biggest hurdles to maintaining Indelust’s current mission?

Ethical sourcing – because it is still a new concept for many businesses in the Indian Sub-Continent.

Are you still involved with your shop Maison in Bangalore?

Unfortunately, I had to close my store so I could move to New York.

Who are the top Indian designers we should know about?

For beautiful womenswear my favorites are Bodice, Drvv, Sanchita, MSMD and HUEMN. The best menswear labels are Josh Goraya, Kardo and Lacquer Embassy. If you are looking for beautifully made ethnic or bridal clothing, Anamika Khanna is my go-to label!

Where do you see the sustainable fashion movement in the next 5 years? 10 years?

I would draw the analogy to organic food, which was a relatively novel concept 10 years ago. Today, every grocery store offers the option because consumers care about what they eat and how it is grown. Similarly, I think people will care about what they wear and how their clothes are made.

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