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The Green Initiative: Story of The Harra Label

Published: August 7, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

Fashion Value Chain Talked with Mrs. Srishti Mehta, Founder of The Harra Label. Srishti is on her Journey to Making India a Sustainable Fashion Hub.

Summary:

The Harra Label uses sustainable fabrics like hemp and bamboo and adopts a zero-waste policy, incorporating waste materials into packaging and design details. The brand also emphasizes ethical labor practices and supports women in rural areas. The founder believes that sustainable fashion is the future and aims to educate and inspire Indian consumers to make responsible choices

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to start The Harra Label?

I always had a flair for fashion from a very young age and loved to play dress up. This urged me to pursue a career in fashion and graduated from Sophia’s design school in Mumbai in 2012. After working in the movie and advertising industry for 2-2.5 years I realized I loved designing clothes and wanted to start my own label. I started designing ethnic wear, western wear, and wedding clothes for men and women in 2015. My passion for art led me to make clothes for people for their special occasions. But I felt I needed to do more and design for myself. So in 2020 when we were all stuck at home due to COVID I wanted to make a difference and design more consciously. I have always been an environmentally conscious person and put in all efforts to adopt a zero waste policy in my manufacturing but, with The Harra Label, I do more. We not only use sustainable fabrics but also practice environmentally friendly techniques like natural dyeing and printing. Design is an entire process and we at The Harra Label always believe less is more in every way!

How did you become interested in sustainable fashion and using natural fabrics like hemp and bamboo?

I have always been conscious of the fabric I use and have always been interested in different textiles. My husband, who is in the textile industry, wanted to develop more sustainable fabrics. We were closely working to understand what fabric we can produce and how sustainable fabrics are the need of the hour. So just before covid when he was developing hemp, bamboo, and hemp blends I became more interested in these fabrics and did my research as to how wearing these garments can actually help the environment in a lot of ways. So in a way the year 2020, we tried and tested a lot of the techniques and designs to finally launch our label in December 2021.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in promoting sustainable fashion in Mumbai and India?

Most people in India are not aware of hemp or any sustainable fabric. Everyone is confused and thinks cotton is a sustainable fabric, but cotton takes 2 times the amount of water to grow, and also more pesticides deplete the soil. The list can go on, so educating the Indian consumer is the biggest challenge. As hemp is grown less than cotton, it is more expensive than cotton and of course, polyester blends are all cheaply available. So hemp clothing is more expensive, but in a way less expensive as it’s the most durable fabric in the world. So you can buy less and save more.

How does The Harra Label ensure that its production processes are environmentally friendly and sustainable?

We put in a lot of effort to adopt a zero-waste policy where all waste materials are reused into packaging, and the selvage cut from the fabric is used in design details. We try and incorporate the waste fabric as applique work in our designs. Even the dying and printing done are all chemical-free or made from natural dyes. With every step we take, we make sure we do less harm to the environment. My team too gets their benefits and we practice ethical labor laws.

Can you walk us through your design process, from ideation to finished product?

For every collection, we come up with a theme or an inspiration and work around it. We start with what’s the trend of the season, what’s happening around us, and what we can do which is easy breezy effortless but also fashion-forward. Our summer collection has all pop colors, neons, and applique work – all a combination of trends and a love for classic silhouettes. We make sketches according to our inspiration and then try different colors and textures on smaller swatches to use them in the collection. Every collection has 12-15 designs each for men and women, we are soon planning to launch our kid’s wear collection as well.

What are some of your most popular products, and why do you think they resonate with customers?

Our most popular products are our hemp shirts, short kurtas, and coord sets. These are available in plain colors, digital prints, and eco prints. Kurta sets or coord sets are super comfy and work well for any type of day wear, loungewear, travel, or even resort wear. Some of our regular clients get hemp suits also made by us. They are the perfect summer workwear, especially for a tropical country like ours.

How does The Harra Label incorporate social responsibility into its business model?

We use different techniques on our hemp fabrics for which we encourage women from rural areas or women who can work from their houses to help us make the textile and earn money. We stand by women and encourage them to work from wherever they are independent

Being a women entrepreneur, I know how difficult it has been for me in the industry to grow and be where my label is. Right from sourcing to hiring everything has been a journey. My production and manufacturing team is a mix of men and women, who come from all walks of life giving equal opportunities to everyone. My core design team is proudly an all-women team wherein some of my girls don’t come with any formal fashion education.

What do you see as the future of sustainable fashion in India and globally?

Sustainable fashion is the future – and the world is switching slowly but not completely. Globally people do want to make a difference and save our environment in some way or the other, India has a long way to go. In India, people need to be educated about what is hemp and its benefits, whereas worldwide people are more aware and responsible towards the environment.

India is a big market for sustainability, people are switching slowly but surely steadily. We have all the resources here, all we need to do is educate everyone in the right direction.

Can you share any exciting upcoming projects or collaborations for The Harra Label?

We have collaborated with a few lifestyle and body-positive influencers. Our men’s wear collection is available on PerniasPopupShop. We are working with a few content creators for our new collection launches. And of course, we are amidst our kids’ wear design process.

Finally, what advice do you have for individuals looking to make more sustainable fashion choices in their everyday lives?

We believe in slow fashion and making responsible choices while purchasing. We should see the fabric contents before we buy anything and how we can decompose it. We should think of how the garments are also disposed of before we do so.

Everything we donate is also dumped into the landfill hence it’s important to buy responsibility as well as discard smartly.

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