Featured Brand: Auréole

Auréole was born in 2017. It was lovingly conceptualized by Aditi Mohoni, a Mumbai-based lawyer whose passion for conscious creativity prompted her to swiftly switch careers, and her partner Kunal Virwani. The brand operates out of a studio in the Mumbai’s quaint Kala Ghoda district.

We at Pasithea, has the pleasure of working with Auréole for our March 2020 issue. A brand that carefully crafts every single piece, we featured their blouses that pair beautifully with all kinds of bottoms.

To get to know them better, read our interview with Auréole.

Who is your muse and what is she like? Our clothes give expression to the carefree wanderer in our hearts - the non-conformist who places her faith in the purity of her beliefs. Rooted in simple living, her clarity of thought pierces through the blur of today's rush, drinking in the timeless beauty and unbridled joy of the natural world.

She stops to feel the sunlight on her skin, she pays heed to the whimsical, sweet song of a bird and she finds happiness in the little things. She is the embodiment of a life that is wholesome, well-balanced and aligned with nature.

What makes your products sustainable? There are a lot of facets to sustainability in the fashion industry and at Auréole, we do our best to touch as many of them as we can. From the minimal environmental impact of the fabrics we source, to the fair trade practices we incorporate in every step of our supply chain and even through our zero-waste packaging, we like to think that the final garment being sent to our customers is one that reflects their and our own values of social and environmental responsibility.

Tell us more about the materials you use and how they're good for the planet. The fabrics we use form the crux of our story, which began when Kunal and Aditi stumbled upon the old world charm of the khadi process during a road trip. Today, khadi fabrics are featured in most of our garments for more reasons than one.

For anyone who doesn't know, khadi is crafted by artisans painstakingly weaving fabrics from handspun yarns, which means it involves time-intensive labour and skill. It has immense potential to create more jobs in small towns and villages, and thereby empower local communities. This makes khadi truly sustainable from an economic growth perspective.

When it comes to the environmental impact of khadi, you'd be hard pressed to find something that has a lower carbon footprint. Being hand-spun and handwoven, its production requires no electricity and it also uses far less water than machine-made fabrics (3 litres as compared to an average of 55 litres). We also make sure that our garments generate zero toxic pollutants by strictly using natural dyes. The final garments are then cut and sewn at our own studio by our talented tailors, the backbone of Auréole. (Fair trade practices are in desperate need to be implemented in the fashion industry, and we're doing what we can in our own little way).

We also tend to source dead stock textiles every now and then, to recycle beautiful fabrics that would have otherwise been sent to the landfill or burned. In terms of our own excess, we have come to realise that making pieces to order is the most sustainable way to go, to prevent potential waste. Any remaining scraps of fabric are then up-cycled into accessories like hair-bands, which are then donated to charity organisations.

Given that sustainability and longevity are also inseparable concepts, we're extremely particular about the quality of the fabrics we use, to make sure that they will age well and remain as loved pieces that last for a long, long time.

Tell us something about your best seller piece. We're really grateful for the love we receive for so many of our pieces! Of these, the Jamdhani Tent Dress is probably one of the bestsellers right now. It's handmade from gorgeously soft cotton khadi, and forms an incredibly breezy yet elegant silhouette.

It's also really unique in terms of its design process. Generally, a fabric's design is block/screen printed over it once it's been made. Here, with our jamdani pieces, the fabric is adorned with intricate jamdani motifs that were handwoven into the fabric, during its creation itself. The work really speaks to the pure talent of the weavers and neatly demonstrates our ethos of simple yet meaningful design.

In the long run, what change would you expect in the way people buy? As great as it is to see growing awareness about the social and environmental implications of the things we buy, there's no denying that consumerism has also reached an all-time high today.

The culture of getting more at a cheaper price and a faster pace is only being honed by the large corporations that stand to benefit from it; they have the resources to cater to these demands and little care for the consequences - which are grave.

The fast fashion industry itself has a lot to atone for. Reading up about the cotton farmers' crisis in India, the terrible working conditions of garment factory workers and the environmental impact of fast fashion - it's all staggering, and we can't blame these on people's buying behaviour alone. We need better policies and large-scale action from the bigger companies to truly address these issues.

The good news is that the more small businesses like ours demonstrate the right way to do things, the clearer the need for these solutions becomes to the consumers as well. When they see ethical business practices in play (like safe working conditions, fair pay, lower consumption of natural resources, less polluting processes, generating less waste), consumers start looking for their tell-tale signs before making a purchase.

In the long run, this would mean people being more selective about the things they buy, to ensure that they were made well - in happy conditions, and with a clear focus on quality rather than quantity - and will therefore last longer. It would also mean strictly avoiding products that are only in use for a short while before leave a lasting negative impact on the planet, with plastic and its many forms being classic examples. All of this translates to a more mindful, personalised approach to shopping, where a buyer considers the way a product would fit into their own lifestyle and their individual long-term needs before making a purchase.

It's already happening in many parts of the world, including in India. It's just a matter of it being spoken about more in order for it to become increasingly common.

Do Indian consumers understand sustainability? How seriously do they take it? Indian consumers are just as well-researched about and aware of sustainability as consumers anywhere else, depending on where you look. In fact, one could even argue that sustainability is a core Indian trait; our habit of recycling old clothes as cleaning cloths, our affinity towards creating our own plant-based personal care products, and our love of collecting and reusing all the jars and shopping bags we've ever owned  - these are all lifestyle habits being espoused as sustainability tips from influencers across the globe today.

On a more consciously-responsible level, more and more people have grown aware of the consequences of the fast fashion industry, especially after the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy. It's been heartening to see and to even be tagged in social media posts asking fashion brands who made their clothes.

Climate change is also becoming a bigger concern, thanks in no small part to inspiring figures like Greta Thunberg and our own young climate change activists in the country. India, along with other parts of the world, is also seeing the impacts of climate change already, which is definitely making many Indians more cognisant of the environmental impact of their choices, including purchases.

We're also blessed to have been able to build a community of like-minded individuals who remind us why we do what we do all the time. They're kind enough to reach out with words of love and support, appreciating the thought behind our clothes and their inherent sustainability. That's what really keeps us going and maintains our optimism about the future - and our faith in humanity, as a whole.