Fashinza is building the biggest B2B apparel manufacturing marketplace for clothing brands. Over the past year, we have experienced 20x growth despite the pandemic and this would not have been possible without our dedicated network of manufacturers. One such manufacturer is Suvastra, a name well known among the garment manufacturing community in India and abroad. What makes this Bangalore-based decade-old manufacturing company stand out is their end-to-end dedication towards sustainability. Karthigeyan Baskaran, the Managing Director of Suvastra believes, “Sustainability needs to become more than just a marketing gimmick in the fashion industry, it needs to be adopted as a way of life.” We asked 5 questions to Karthigeyan about sustainability, the manufacturing industry, and his experience with Fashinza. We trust that this case study will offer our readers a glimpse into the psyche and operations of our dedicated manufacturing partners.
Fashinza: As a manufacturer, you prioritize sustainability. What steps have you taken to ensure sustainable production from end to end?
Karthigeyan: To begin with, I would like to shed light on the meaning of ‘Suvastra’ - 'Vastra' as we all know means clothing, but the prefix ‘Su’ means goodness or happiness. Suvastra’s purpose is to spread happiness among our partners, employees, and the world at large. But the world cannot be a happy place unless we take care of it and hence, sustainability comes into play as our core value. Human beings often behave like they own the planet but that’s not true, we own nothing, we’re here on borrowed time and it is our responsibility to leave behind a healthy and habitable planet for the generations to come. Acting sustainably, as such, should not be a lifestyle choice for us, it should be the only way of life.
Now it’s easy to talk about sustainability, it’s a great marketing strategy, but the question is, how many of us can offer proof of the claimed sustainability? When we talk about building a transparent supply chain, it is this proof that matters at the end of the day. At Suvastra, we secure transaction certificates along every stage of production - from sourcing raw fibers to fabrics to final products - which guarantee that every vendor involved in the process and their respective products are sustainable. At the same time, we use natural dyes and advanced energy efficient equipment to minimize power consumption. We’re located in Bangalore and given our prevalent climate condition, we have been unable to harness enough power to make the entire plant solar-driven but we do use solar power for lighting purposes. We are also definitely considering the possibilities of making a more radical shift towards solar energy in the future.
Fashinza: Why do you think most manufacturers still prioritize traditional products over sustainable ones? What tips would you offer to manufacturers who want to shift towards sustainable production?
Karthigeyan: It really depends on the core values of the manufacturers themselves. For the ones who believe sustainability is non-negotiable, it is not a difficult feat but for those that believe in using it as a marketing hype only, it might seem like a hassle to build a sustainable establishment. The problem from the supplier's end is that they don’t incentivize sustainable products. Brands do watch out for the cost in most cases, so if they were offered sustainable products at the same price as the regular ones, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t choose it. However, when prices of sustainable products are marked up significantly, brands tend to gravitate towards alternatives. This is an issue that needs to be resolved at the supply end and manufacturers who are planning to embrace sustainability for real should focus on finding a solution along these lines.
Fashinza: Can you tell us about some challenges you have faced in the sustainable manufacturing industry?
Karthigeyan: We have been promoting sustainable fashion for a decade now, it is a part of our organizational culture. Every employee who works with Suvastra plays a role in ensuring that our products and operations have a minimal negative impact to the planet. This has never been a challenge for us. We have, however, faced other challenges in the industry. For instance, despite experiencing high demand for our products, we have faced certain handicaps in scaling. That has been a major challenge for us.
Fashinza: How has your experience been with Fashinza? Has your business experienced any change after pairing up with this B2B platform?
Karthigeyan: In Fashinza I’ve not only found a great partner but a true friend. As I have mentioned above, scaling has been a challenge for us over the years. Now that I have paired up with Fashinza, I’m being assured that I shall have access to all the support I need but the question is how much I can deliver in return. This has come through as a challenge for me and now I want to explore and see for myself the extent to which I can grow and scale. This has been a rare partnership where Fashinza has literally walked up to me and said all my worries are theirs now and I shall have access to end-to-end support, I only need to focus on my growth and delivery. From the founders to every single representative of Fashinza that I have interacted with so far, everyone has been extremely nice, supportive and encouraging. Fashinza has definitely boosted my confidence and is pushing me forward in the right direction.
Fashinza: So now what are your plans for the future?
Karthigeyan: Fashinza doesn’t just talk about transparency but they mean it - that is what I’ve come to realize. Now that I can count on the team for necessary support, I’m definitely looking forward to scaling my business in the near future. I believe Fashinza has a powerful global platform to talk about sustainability and I’m really moved by the fact that they have decided to focus their energy and resources on sustainable fashion, which is the need of the hour. I'm delighted to be a part of this initiative and want to contribute towards their endeavor on a grander scale.
Our conversation with Karthigeyan left our hearts brimming with joy. To learn that we have created such a huge place for ourselves in the heart of our manufacturing partner only confirmed that we are indeed making the difference that we're here to make. One of our primary goals is to contribute towards the growth of MSMEs and now here we are. In future, Suvastra and Fashinza will continue to work hand-in-hand to build a sustainable fashion supply chain for global brands.