March 10, 2023 FDCI

Zero Waste Warriors

Kriti Tula adds recycled to her upcycled offering with denims and handlooms taking centerstage in her sustainable language of clothing at Doodlage.

By Asmita Aggarwal

The bridge between creativity and sales is often one that many fall off, but Kriti Tula of Doodlage not only studied design at Pearl Academy, but went on to win a full bright scholarship to the London College of Fashion where she completed masters in design management. This honed her skills at product management as well as understanding the nuances of the individualistic Indian market.

She began her journey ten years ago in the capital when creating garments out of “waste” was an unexplored concept and she was “timid” in admitting this proud fact. Today the client has changed, they want to adopt the word “conscious”, and Tula almost announces it on her website. “R and D was a challenge and today how to scale it is to reduce price points down,” she says. Bigger numbers are the only way forward, but to achieve that volume when you are working with rejects and discarded fabric is an uphill task.

Identifying production houses, fixing defects, then creating garments, and then again converting that waste into accessories has been her motto. In this attempt to stick to her philosophy, she now works with three ethical sources, which have in some ways eased her supply chain. This year, she is introducing newer materials for the FDCI X Lakme showcasing in Mumbai. From recycled handlooms, econyl, Tencel, polyester, she hopes to make the product more approachable. “I want to strike a balance between the consumer waiting for seven days to three-hour delivery of the product they ordered from Doodlage,” she admits.

Sustainability needs to be scaled, and as the entire label has been bootstrapped by Kriti, coming from a middle-class family with limited resources. Her father, a State Bank of India employee, encouraged her tremendously, but cash flow has been problematic. The future is creating an eco-system where —from the ensembles, to the packaging, who is making it to how it is reaching the consumer must be organic. “The waste we source is biodegradable—cotton, silk to rayon and the rest we convert into paper,” she confesses. But till today buying a dress for Rs 6,500 seems unaffordable for a price sensitive market, even though it is your first experience with the brand.

This season, Kriti hopes to bring it down to Rs 4500 and will also introduce tees, even though their men’s offering is till now only a capsule line. Hats, caps, and recycled canvas bags are a new addition along with recycled denim.

“The conversation around sustainability must be stronger, part of the fashion institute’s curriculum too. I graduated in 2010 and I felt this was hugely missing,” she alerts, adding design wise there is a rethinking of processes. In college they were taught to start from an inspiration and then work forward, in Doodlage, they first source materials and then begin working on the moodboard. “We don’t buy from local markets, but only certified sources, who are authentic suppliers,” she adds.

Gen Z and millennials are now more than ever connected to the impact of climate change, there is a palpable eco-anxiety, they understand the evils of fast fashion. “They are intrigued and are our potential buyers, only the pricing bothers them, so many refrain. Thus, we work on seasonless offerings, more classics, without calling them spring-summer or autumn-winter. Circularity is what we aim at, and we urge buyers to make this a lifestyle choice,” she admits.

This year two main materials are the highlight handwoven handlooms as well as denims, both recycled with “Nostalgia” as the overriding theme. The vibe is 90s, with doodled flower prints, the concept is a life lived outdoors, hand-me downs, looks are multi-layered and on the runway, you will see how you can wear a jumpsuit, trench, shirt, transitioning to various looks, channeling versatility, an important feature post-covid.

Inspired by her grandmother, who set up an indigenous support group for women of Kumaon, teaching them knitting, stitching and weaving, Kriti counts her as an avid supporter, inheriting her genius for inventing patterns. “I don’t want to invest in a store, the focus is online, currently I am raising funds to expand organically,” she concludes.


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