In an exclusive conversation, Tanvi Bikhchandani, Co-Founder of Tamarind Chutney, talks about the latest fashion trends and the changes in consumer behavior towards buying fashion. She further speaks about the need for sustainable fashion post-COVID-19.
What has been Tamarind Chutney's journey so far? When was the startup incepted and what has been the growth story so far?
Founded in 2019, Tamarind Chutney is a social enterprise that aims to improve artisan livelihoods and reduce textile waste. We source fabrics directly with small to medium-sized artisans, provide them design inputs, and share profits with them. We also source 'deadstock' fabric from existing production to prevent it from being thrown into landfills. In the past year, we worked with 45+ artisans/tailors and diverted 763m of fabric from the landfill.
Fashion Trends - what are the consumer changes towards buying Fashion you have noticed?
There has been a growing interest in sustainable and conscious fashion in India, where customers are looking to buy from brands whose values align with theirs. Much of this shopping has been occurring online, with eCommerce growing four times faster than traditional retail (pre-COVID).
How technology is transforming the crafts sector, giving a complete boost to Indian handicrafts and artisans, and what have been the benefits to craftsmen in the D2C ecosystem?
The increased mobile internet penetration has been a game-changer for the crafts sectors, with many artisans becoming accessible via Whatsapp, Instagram, and other such platforms. They are able to reach a wider audience through informal market places on these platforms. The access to markets is beneficial not just for sales, but also for in-product development, craftspersons are able to learn about urban market preferences and inform their designs accordingly.
What are your digital plans to reach out to the last-mile customers? Are you also planning to place your products in retail stores for better visibility?
As of now, 70% of our customers are from Tier-1 cities. In recent months, we have seen an uptick in customers from Tier-2 cities, specifically in South India. We will invest in digital marketing to increase our online reach to these locations. Since we are bootstrapped, we do not have the capital to set up our own retail stores. However, we are open to shop-in-shop arrangements or stocking in existing stores that focus on handlooms and craft products.
Since WFH is a new normal. Have you made any changes to your product category?
We have begun producing masks and it has quickly become one of our top selling products in recent months. In terms of apparel, which is our core offering, we launched a capsule work from a home collection which included comfortable garments such as cotton T-shirts, shorts, and patiala salwars. We have seen a positive response to these products, specifically T-shirts and shorts.
Your thoughts on the need for sustainable Fashion post-COVID-19.
Over the years, there has been an increased awareness of the pollution caused by fast fashion. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a disruption of these fast fashion supply chains. Many brands have faced declining sales, and have canceled orders. These cancellations have been extremely detrimental for the livelihoods of garment workers. It is high time that the industry moves away from the exploitative model of environmental pollution and focus on a triple bottom line approach towards people, planet, and profit.