Text by Rushmika Banerjee
The Oxford 2018 word of the year is toxic. The word is a clear reflection of our environmental concerns and the society’s conscious need to move towards a more sustainable existence. And when one of the biggest Parisian fashion houses in the world decides to ban exotic skins across all its product ranges, it’s time to take a stock of our consumption habits. Chanel made an official statement on Monday stating that the brand will stop manufacturing products made from skins of snakes, crocodiles, lizards and stingrays. Finding responsibly-sourced alternatives to replace exotic skins has been on the rise in the past few years and this move by Chanel is a welcome change in the outline of creating a cruelty-free future. Spearheading this philosophy, some designers have found substitutes like vegan leather, polyurethane and cork leather, which imitate the look of feel of leather. A few homegrown labels, however, are also working on sustainable means to produce leather goods, without compromising on the quality of the material:
Founded in 2015, the label (which means pure cotton in Hindi) by designer Shilpi Yadav, is known for its free-spirited, bohemian aesthetic. The collections comprise of minimal shapes, a subdued colour palette and clean cuts, all handcrafted in natural fabrics. The label recently ventured into designing ahimsa or cruelty-free leather bags manufactured from slaughter-free leather, which is sourced from animals that have died from natural causes. Add a touch of smart sophistication to your everyday style with their range of smart carry-alls, which includes satchels, cross-body bags, wallets and bowler bags.
Designer Avinash Bhalerao works with ahimsa leather and decades-old tanneries in India to create an uber-stylish range of messenger bags, laptop cases and backpacks. Retailing through social media channels, Mumbai-based Grain was started by Bhalerao in 2014. The label wants you to experience good-quality leather products and Bhalerao doesn’t compromise on the ethos. With its fuss-free design philosophy and emphasis on artisanal handcrafted leather, the label will remind you of the simpler times in fashion.
Started by designer Smriti Sain in 2015, Chiaroscuro is a New Delhi-based workshop known for its single-artisan-made leather accessories. The label works with upcycled leather – surplus animal hide from tanneries and production cycles. The imperfections in these discarded leather samples make the final product one-of-a-kind and leads to less wastage.