This month we would like to introduce you to REFASH – an India-based, global platform for upcycled fashion. Started by fashion entrepreneur, Akanksha, the brand is the world’s first singular online space for all things related to upcycling – from products one can purchase from their web shop to upcycling events, features and pop-ups.
Akanksha got in touch with us last year with a prospect to collaborate and we finally met this month when I came for my yearly visit to my home city, Mumbai. A lot is in store for us – conducting workshops together, having my products on the REFASH platform and now this feature! It’s an inspiration to meet like-minded individuals like her and I would love you to meet her too:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start REFASH?
I studied Fashion Design & Marketing at London College of Fashion, UAL. After graduating, I worked in the space of online retail with an Indian fashion marketplace and then moved on to working in my family business of apparel manufacturing for 4 years. All of this helped me understand the different sides of fashion retail, design, production and witness first-hand the massive amount of waste that is generated through the conventional model of apparel manufacturing for large fashion retailers.
I started REFASH in April 2018 with an idea to build a movement for upcycling. I attended an upcycling workshop where I learnt how to upcycle an old shirt that I wasn’t wearing anymore, into a more contemporary top by tweaking its fit. And, I walked out thinking, gee that was so easy! And yet every time we have somewhere to go, we feel the need to buy something new, and invariably that ends up being from a fast fashion brand.
Upon researching more about what was happening in the upcycling industry, I realised that a lot of brands were creating upcycled products, but it felt that they were all doing it in their little silos, each trying to make its own mark. What was missing was a space or a community that would bring all of them together under one umbrella and give it the momentum of a movement. This is why, REFASH.
What is REFASH all about?
REFASH is the world’s first platform for upcycled fashion. Here we feature and retail collections of designers, brands and creative artisans that are made out of old, discarded materials. It is a singular platform for everything to do with upcycling – brands creating upcycled products, events on upcycling and sustainability, books on upcycling, DIY videos to create upcycled products and more. Over the last 2 years, we have collaborated with over a hundred global brands in the form of three verticals – online features, online web shop and offline events like workshops, talks and pop ups.
What are your personal values and how do they translate into your professional choices?
I strongly feel that if you do good work, eventually it will get noticed. It is very important to push the boundaries, challenge yourself and think out of the box. This is very important to us. At REFASH, we want to create value for each brand that we partner with. We want to be able to tell their story to millions of people, how they are creating unique products with a soul and why creating “good” brands is so essential for consumers to make “good choices”.
How would you describe the environmental awareness in India when it comes to consumerism and fashion?
India is at a very nascent stage with respect to awareness about environmental issues and ethical practices. The more evolved consumer definitely understands the need to make conscious choices, however, design is still a very important factor to make buying decisions. We have learnt that a consumer will not buy your product just because it’s sustainable. Well, they might do it once or twice but not after that a consumer will buy your product because they like the design of it, and sustainability is an added benefit. The idea is to be able to create great designs using ethical practices which last long.
What advice would you give someone starting out on their sustainable journey?
Be excited, but be patient. Sustainability is on everyone’s radar right now, which is what makes it very exciting. But, only brands that are truly genuine, authentic and “good” will sustain over time, so be patient, ‘cause that could take a while.