IKKIVI Is The Only 100% Melanin-Operated Platform Making Dope Indian-Based Designers Visible In The Luxe Sustainable Fashion Market
We had the pleasure of speaking with Nivi Murthy who is the founder of IKKIVI - slow fashion platform, curating ethical and sustainable designers from India. Of all of the amazing online sustainable fashion platforms and e-commerce shops - this is the first one we’ve seen that is intentionally created to highlight ethical fashion-forward brands that are based in India with a platform that is creatively curated by all people of color. With beautiful imagery and a host of outstanding brands, we are excited to share more about this hub.
Check out this interview:
When and why did you start IKKIVI? What does the name mean?
We started IKKIVI late 2015 as a platform for emerging designers of India with a unique Indian aesthetic and modern style. We felt the need to share the talent of Indian designers who were definitely capable of competing internationally. We then came across the documentary ‘The True Cost’ and that changed our focus. We became a platform for slow fashion. Lucky for us, most of the designers we had already curated were using ethical and sustainable means of production, a lot of whom we still have onboard with us till date. From that point on we are focused on solely curating designers who match our ethos.
The name is a combination of first names of the two of us who originally started IKKIVI.
From your vantage point - what is the fashion scene like in India (or certain regions of India that you're familiar with)?
The fashion industry in India is and has always been rich in culture and tradition. Sewn garments have existed since ancient history. The textiles produced and unique techniques used on these fabrics have been a major industry of India’s capital goods sector in addition to exports.
Almost every region of our country is popular with a certain textile or craft. Here is a link to a board we have gathered on Pinterest that showcases the textiles specific to each region as well as a little detail about it.
With access to the talent, tradition and craft as well as global knowledge/access via the Internet there are a large number of Indians from the millennial generation creating finished products matching if not better in value proposition to the global standard. Several Indian designers have been recognised globally for their distinct eye and aesthetic and have even gone on to win prestigious awards. It is a truly exciting time for Indian fashion. In terms of educational institutes and access, India has limited options and I wish we had more to offer to the young and and those interested in the fashion industry.
How do you define sustainability? What role you think sustainability plays in the Indian marketplace?
Sustainability is anything that is consciously and thoughtfully crafted with less or no negative impact to the environment or the people involved.
As a culture we have always been sustainable in our practices, whether it was the fashion industry or beauty or food. That is how we were raised and a lot of it is deeply rooted in our Indianness. For example, our ancestors have always used naturally available resources when it comes to beauty, fashion and food. Natural textiles have been woven in India for decades, our grandmothers would opt for natural alternatives such as turmeric and milk to beautiful themselves and a meal would always equal to a freshly cooked dish from scratch. The resources available to us and the mindset a lot of Indians have, of saving, mending, reusing, make us closer to being sustainable. However, now, with the influence of the more developed countries we are quite rapidly falling trap to fast fashion, packaged beauty products with chemicals and processed chemically induced packaged foods. All of this is happening because of the lack of recognition that is well deserved of Indian craftsmen and traditions. Sustainable fashion also comes at a cost which is difficult for an average Indian to partake. We have a long way to go in terms of building awareness and also making sustainable fashion accessible to an average Indian.
What is the number 1 misconception you're trying to dispel about independent Indian fashion designers?
QUALITY. We are not just low cost, cheap labour as is the perception at times. There is talent here as well as design sensibility, knowledge of the craft, great finishing and long lasting products.
How does being a WOC/ India woman shape your understanding of ethical fashion? (Intentionally a broad question)
I am lucky to be exposed to both sides of things. Having been brought up in India, I have definitely seen the progress and struggles of a developing nation but at the same time being exposed to more advanced education, an experience that has allowed me to see ethical fashion from a different point of view.
From the Indian perspective, both urban and rural, there is a lack of awareness. Individuals working in the industry, at least a large percentage do not know why the harmful chemicals being driven into the ocean are bad or why landfills are bad.
Women working in factories are not educated about their rights which ends up in them being taken advantage of and not treated right.
But at the same time, these jobs earn them a living. However, intervention from the government and organisations can make this a better environment for them to thrive and grow in.
Then there are the consumers who are just unaware of what goes on behind the scenes. Being educated and in the industry, I myself did not know until two years ago the negative impact of the fashion industry as I knew it. Which is why our two main focuses for the business are, 1. Creating awareness and educating and 2. Providing customers an option of buying conscious fashion.
What is your biggest inspiration?
The beauty of India. The culture, traditions and the small things that make us who we are.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
In the future we are keen to exploring further product categories and trying to make all kinds of sustainable clothing available under one roof right from basics to swimwear. We also want to continue being a voice for not just sustainable fashion but also for slow, mindful living. We are soon going to launch an online magazine for this purpose, to draw more of our thoughts and ideas about these subjects and share them with a wider audience.