Building a Community for Sustainable Fashion Brands

UpcycleLuxe

5. Gender Equality 6. Clean Water and Sanitation 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

UpcycleLuxe is a sustainable fashion marketplace that caters to the producers of sustainable fashion and makes it possible for customers to shop for eco-friendly products. Upcycleluxe has a zero-tolerance policy for the violations of their protocols, called LuxeLens. The marketplace lets its customers know the positive environmental impact and SDG impact from the purchase. If a crude simplification has to be made, it is Amazon.com for sustainable fashion.

Authors

Shubham Bhamre

Shubham Bhamre

Harshita Banthia

Harshita Banthia

Nishith K Shetty

Nishith K Shetty

Arpit Sheth

Arpit Sheth

Saurabh Malik

Saurabh Malik

Bhagya Jyothi S

Bhagya Jyothi S

School

Goa Institute of Management

Goa Institute of Management

Professor

Divya Singhal

Divya Singhal

Innovation

Ms. Harshita Chandra, Founder CEO of UpcycleLuxe believed that sustainable fashion is at a growing stage and it's typically unorganized. Upcycleluxe is an emerging player and the main motivation behind her starting up is that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and the majority of the people didn’t even take it as a contributor.

"To bring together brands onto one platform and make It a voice In fashion industry, to let the change happen in terms of sustainability as well as the waste that we are creating In the industry" - Interview Extract

For following the principle, she used factory waste to manufacture accessories and clothing garments. She mainly believes "Green is the new luxury," where they promote a low impact lifestyle. The company connects their customer base with the homegrown business that uses organic products and industrial waste for their production. UpcycleLuxe believed in lowering and reusing industrial waste. With time increasing the efforts and contribution towards sustainable development. Gradually they started increasing the number of products and varieties of the products and went on to the international level by selling in the European Market.

Building a Community for Sustainable Fashion Brands

https://upcycleluxe.com/

Inspiration

As an IT graduate, she had experience in incorporating but even then she took on a dive into the fashion industry which was one of her inclinations because of the “glam & glitz” of the fashion world. She was inclined and thankfully enough her parents supported her in pursuing what she wanted to wish to be and diverted her computer IT engineering background to something which was alien to the entire family because she comes from an administration family.

So, once she indulged herself in the fashion industry. What happened? The real scenario of the industry wasn't that glam.

"The first internship that I did in the export house saw a huge shipment that got canceled and there were people who were coming to the factory and asking for the clothes in kilograms - they wanted to resell these products, i.e. export surplus called today," shared Ms. Chandra. She was very curious in understanding what is the entire supply chain, how the entire supply chain works in any industry irrespective of the fashion industry.

She interacted with one of 'Master Ji' (main tailor) there and asked what he’s going to do with that sort of wastage and if there is a possibility of reusing it. He offered her the clothes for free and asked her to share them with her friends and family. He added that the remaining clothes of the canceled lot will be dumped in the landfill anyway.

This ignited her curiosity even further, and she started her electronic capsule collection of upcycling product factory waste, especially so it was like a mini venture that she created to gain experiences of the consumers, and back then, sustainability wasn't something which was a norm. And to make consumers understand the aspect of sustainability was really new.

She collaborated with a few high-end fashion brands in India where they saw a capsule collection getting off the shelf really fast. But the aspect of sustainability wasn't heard. "This particular norm was not gonna get heard in a single-handed way, but then they had to curate something, bring together brands onto one platform, and make it a voice In the fashion industry, to let the change happen in terms of sustainability as well as the waste that we are creating In the industry". - Interview Extract

Overall impact

UpcycleLuxe is able to perform a fact-based evaluation that calculates the true cost of fashion and the sustainability strength of each brand and its products. By measuring the economic footprint and comparing it to traditional industrial practices, it can show the environmental savings one can make when one purchases a product from their store. The evaluation consists of quantitative and qualitative questions, each of which is integrated into the 7 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and categorized into our 6 strengths of sustainability, i.e. Water, Air, Energy, Materials, Conditions of Work, and Commitment.

UpcycleLuxe believes that "Each brand has to educate the consumers that we are transparent enough and we are trying to eliminate greenwashing from the industry." - Interview Extract

To follow this principle Upcycle dives deep into the entire supply chain and evaluate the life-cycle footprint of each product, right from the production of raw materials to its management and recyclability. UpcycleLuxe creates impact with the following measures:

Waste: An estimated half a million tones of clothing microfibers are leaking into our oceans every year and fabrics can otherwise be downcycled into things like upholstery or upcycled into beautiful new garments. UpcycleLuxe partners with other brands to ensure management of their textile waste, usage of organic dyes and materials, and recycling their textile waste in order to reduce the overall amount of waste.

Emission: More than 98 million tones of non-renewable resources are used annually by the fashion industry. These include oil for the production of synthetic fiber, fertilizers for cotton plantations, and chemicals for dyeing and finishing of fiber and fabrics. In addition to these, the fashion industry is also responsible for about 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions.

UpcycleLuxe takes a deep look at the sustainability standards and renewable energy practices that the brand implements and follows to improve air quality for all life on earth. They have successfully prevented approximately 15,000 kilograms of carbon emissions, 80,000 chemicals through these products, and the water being conserved as 38,000 of bottoming conserved.

Water: Water, the common denominator for all life on earth, and yet the fashion industry is responsible for polluting more than 93 billion cubic meters. This phenomenon not only bites a large portion of our natural water resources but also deteriorates human health.

It takes up to 200 tones of fresh water per ton of dyed fabric. In most clothing-producing countries, after the dyeing phase, untreated toxic wastewater containing lead, mercury, and arsenic, among other things, is directly dumped into the surrounding freshwater resources. This is extremely harmful both to aquatic life and to people living around these freshwater resources.

Upcycle luxe supports brands that choose to monitor and reuse their water as much as possible, opt for waterless non-toxic dyes and solutions, and are willing to opt for better alternatives to address these issues.

Energy: Clothing production is an intense process, often synonymous with low wages, exaggerated working hours, and human rights abuses. The fashion industry is one of the most female-dominated industries in the world, but unfortunately, it has not been able to provide these same women with a basic and fair living wage.

UpcycleLuxe takes a strong stand against the above practices. Gender equality, fair play, and zero tolerance for violence and harassment are at the heart of their ethos. They also ensure that brands provide a secure and healthy workplace, do not infringe any fundamental human rights, and build a strong foundation with local community craftsmen. In short, UpcycleLuxe strives to truly harness the power of ‘Vocal for Local’ ideals.

Chemical: If it puts your body at risk for cancer, would you wear a dress? Well, we don’t think so. Approximately 2,000 synthetic chemicals are used in clothing manufacture, most of which contain known carcinogens and hormonal disruptors. These chemicals include lead, mercury, chlorine, formaldehyde, etc. These are some that we know about, while others are kept under lock and key, hidden in the depths of the industry’s most popular styles.

Upcycle Luxe opts for brands that use organic and natural materials such as organic cotton, linen, silk, wool, and hemp that allow the body to breathe, detoxify, and naturally regulate its temperature.

All brands on their website undergo a rigorous selection process. Some of them include the use of organic and natural materials such as organic cotton, linen, silk, wool, and hemp. Essentially, the fabrics and materials that allow your body to breathe, detoxify and naturally regulate its temperature.

Citations: 1.UPCYCLELUXE, 2021, https://upcycleluxe.com/

Business benefit

The main problem statement for UpcycleLuxe was that there was a scatter designer community. There were no such sustainable homegrown labels, there were many platforms that were putting them across as sustainable, but there was a lot of greenwashing that was happening in the industry. Upcycle Luxe came into the picture by eliminating these greenwashed products.

"We’ve prevented approximately 15,000 kilograms of carbon emissions through these products." - Interview Extract

UpcycleLuxe adheres to the triple bottom line business model, with the objective and mission of educating customers about sustainability and their goods. Profitability, according to the corporation, occurs when a consumer purchases even one product and is educated by it; this, in turn, results in long-term profitability. Upcycle has also moved into the European market, serving over 7000 retailers in Germany.

"So we are catering to almost 7000 stores in Germany now and we have seen a good inclination about sustainable products in Europe and now India is also changing their buying behavior." - Interview Extract

The company has collaborated with Grow Trees who help in offsetting the carbon footprint for the consumers who are buying their products. They have pledged to plant trees in the Sundarbans of West Bengal where they’re also providing employment to farmers.

Citations: 1.UPCYCLELUXE, 2021, https://upcycleluxe.com/

Social and environmental benefit

Social Benefits

1. Celebrating artisanal work and old school craftsmanship

Behind every upcycled product, there is a maker who strongly believes in a level of craftsmanship that we just don’t see very much anymore.

UpcycleLuxe has worked around 800 plus artisans since its incubation. It managed to make a strong consumer base by collaborating with the institutions. They are not only educating about sustainability but also trying to capture the market.

2. Supporting local and rural industry

Another social and economic benefit of upcycling is that it supports small local businesses as well as rural village industries.

3. Reduced manufacturing costs

If designers make items from reclaimed materials, this can drastically reduce their manufacturing costs.

Environmental impacts

One is to upcycle and recycle products, organic materials, and organic products. We are having circular designs as well as minimal waste zero waste.

Prevented approximately 15,000 kilograms of carbon emissions through these products and the water being conserved as like 38,000 of bottoming conserved.

Citations: 1.UPCYCLELUXE, 2021, https://upcycleluxe.com/

Interview

Harshita Chandra, Founder, CEO

Photo of interviewee

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UpcycleLuxe

UpcycleLuxe

Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, IN

Business Website: https://upcycleluxe.com/

Year Founded: 2020

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

UpcycleLuxe envisions building a community for sustainable fashion brands in India. With a mission to accelerate the transition towards sustainable fashion, they are committed to renewing the importance of sustainable clothing in India.