We are in a time of crisis. While at any other time, fashion could have been an escape — eight LBDs to match your inner rage and helplessness, perhaps — now it seems silly to talk about it in the ways we are used to. Instead, amidst the pandemic chaos, young indie fashion brands have been leading the way with fundraising drives. With online sales actioned, proceeds are being donated to organisations working towards Covid relief.
“The last 15 months have been tough on young brands. Still, given how dire the situation in India is, help is help,” says Gauri Verma of crafts-focussed brand, Jodi. Brushing aside questions on whether the ‘me too’ pressure has been a factor, Karuna Laungani, her partner, adds, “There will always be someone doing something first. What’s important is one is not last.”
Most small brands function on cash flow business models. And the positive flow for these sales has been heartening. While Jodi managed to raise ₹18,75,400 — 50% of which has been donated to organisations like Hemkunt Foundation, Khalsa Aid and Mission Oxygen India — Olio Stories, a contemporary jewellery brand from New Delhi, raised ₹12,40,974 (6x of their initial target from a three-day sale).
“I understand that sales right now can feel like a marketing gimmick, but at the end of the day, people’s lives will be saved [by what we collect],” says Rashi Agarwal Favier, of Raff, an ethical leather bags brand based in Pondicherry, that will be donating 50% from their May sales to Hemkunt Foundation, an NGO that is helping with oxygen and meal distribution. “Transparency about the contribution would be great, so it is not just about generating new orders.”
Sensitising and amplifying
And it’s not just about the money. Delhi-based veteran Urvashi Kaur, who is supporting karigars via Dastakar and Crafts Council of India, says that “amplification pushes other brands, both small and big, to offer support and be part of a much larger conversation. It helps sensitise brands to be more proactive, and build a collective consciousness”. For instance, up-and-coming brand Saundh, that focusses on Indian resort prints, worked with a Surat-based NGO to set up a 100-bed Covid treatment facility.
- Only two couture labels had expressed their support when this story went to print: Gaurav Gupta and Valaya. JJ Valaya, who has been “donating in my personal capacity to varied institutions”, has promised 20% of his online sales to Hemkunt Foundation, Khalsa Aid (which is procuring oxygen concentrators) and Give India.
As Sounak Sen Barat of Bengaluru-based House of Three (who will be donating 100% of their own sales and that of partner brands to ACT Grants, Doctor For You and Hasiru Dala) says, “Money isn’t the only thing that can resurrect us. Human effort is what’s keeping our country’s pulse ticking. Our hearts may be broken, but our spirits never will be.” Here’s to building back.
Others pitching in
Misho: Donating 100% of sales from their Mina snug cuffs to several charities.
Meera by Nandini: The crafts-focussed bag brand is donating 100% of their sales (till May 9) towards Hasiru Dala’s campaign to provide food and medical support to medical waste pickers
Verandah: Anjali Patel Mehta is donating 100% of profits (from sales till May 15) to Hemkunt Foundation, Covid Donors, Mission Oxygen, Mission Vayu, Legend Aid and Step Up.
Khara Kapas: Donating 100% of proceeds of a specially-curated collection to Hemkunt Foundation.
Bansri Mehta Design: Donating 100% of sales from a capsule collection (till May 9) to Khana Chahiye (that is providing meals and grocery kits) and Goonj (provides meals).
Selfish: Giving 100% of sales (till May 14) to Hemkunt Foundation
Outhouse: Donating ₹500 from each piece sold to Mission Oxygen and Hemkunt Foundation
Arpita Mehta: Giving 100% of kaftans sales to Ripples of Kindness, which is helping provide oxygen concentrators to hospitals
Twinkle Hanspal: Donating 50% of all sales (till May 10) will go to Hemkunt Foundation
CDC X PRXKHXR: Donating 100% of sales of a limited edition T-shirt will be given to Bajaj Foundation, Mission Pxygen, Feeding India and Hemkunt Foundation