SUI - Environmentally And Socially Responsible Clothing

SUI

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VISIT WEBSITE

Location

India

Made In

New Delhi, India

Values

“Our aim is to spread awareness on conscious fashion that is versatile, has minimal impact, is relatable and treats its makers as family. We believe conscious fashion can be engaging, beautiful and impactful.”

You took the words right out of our mouth, SUI.

Based in India and Singapore, SUI is a sustainable fashion company consciously crafting trend-defying garments with as low an environmental impact as possible. 

Meaning “needle” in Hindi, SUI is all about connection: the connection between needle and thread, the connection between garment workers and the company they work for, and the connection between fashion and nature.

All of the beautiful SUI garments are lovingly crafted and embroidered by a small team in New Delhi, India. As this occurs in SUI’s own factory, the SUI team has formed an extremely close relationship with their workers, workers who not only receive more than the minimum wage, but also benefits including medical insurance and paid leave. Music to our ears.

SUI not only places a great level of importance on ethical production but also on sustainability. Aside from only producing small runs, SUI upcycles any leftover fabric scraps into new products in an effort to combat unnecessary wastage. SUI also promises to be as responsible as possible, which is why they use plant-based and azo-free dyes and sustainable fabrics, are working towards zero-waste production, are committed to worker welfare and education, and will only ever use sustainable packaging to ship their garments to you.

As for the fabrics used, all are either hand-made or sustainably-produced, and SUI works with slow crafts, which emits lower emissions. The hand-made fabric is crafted by Women Weave in Maheshwar, and the machine-made fabric is created by SUI’s GOTS certified partners in Delhi, Calcutta and Southern India. What’s more is the fabric is hand-printed by Vijendra, SUI’s block printer, in Bagru, Rajasthan, and dyed using plant-based dyes by two partners based in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

You know we love a good “progress over perfection” moment, and SUI does, too. Although the SUI team can’t trace their entire supply chain, this is one of their long-term goals, and is an extremely important aspect of the SUI business model going forward. There are obvious limitations in tracing the entirety of a supply chain, however SUI can trace back to the fabric makers for their garments, and they can also trace the entire supply chain for their organic cotton knits and their hand-spun, hand-woven organic cotton. 

Oh, and a word on their packaging: SUI has a minimal packaging policy, and this is evident in every single one of their packaging choices. The tags are printed on recycled paper, and thanks to the reusable and unprinted cardboard boxes and the compostable bags, SUI’s packaging is totally plastic-free. This incredible ethical fashion company also runs campaigns each year in alignment with either environmental NGOs or artisan partners in need – this year, SUI is working with a NGO that works for tree plantations in India. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any better!

SUI is a company that cares as much about the people who craft the SUI garments as for the planet on which they work. SUI’s commitment to ethical production and environmental responsibility is evident through everything this ethical fashion company does, from the use of plant-based dyes and sustainable fabrics to the close relationships formed with the garment workers, and we’re 100% here for it.

Want to know where SUI sits and what they’re working on in terms of these 5 values? Hover over these values to find out.

Behind the Brand

“We respect the people who craft our pieces and the planet in doing so. This lies true for when we choose our fabrics. We consider 2 things which is the impact they have on the planet in terms of their process and how & where are they being made. This is why we choose to work at a large capacity with handmade fabrics, because they support a craft & a community behind them.”.

Mahima Gujral

Mahima Gujral We Are SUI founder

What made you start SUI?

A lot of my courage to begin SUI stems back to my foundations -I grew up in an entrepreneurial family & my mother’s side in fact owns a garment & textile business which crafts traditional Indian clothing. So whether I was aware of it or not, I was witness to the workings of a fashion businesses, the supply chain, interactions with the tailors from her business from a very young age. All my Indian traditional clothes are crafted by them & at her brand – you often meet those who craft your clothes first hand while they take your measurements. But it really wasn’t until much later that I understood how much this meant to me. I chose to study Fashion Business in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2016 when I was studying my masters in Milan – that a personal journey of mine began into questioning the story behind our clothes.

In 2016 is when I learnt about the impact of the fashion industry & began to read a lot more about it while studying in Italy. This stemmed from a sustainability module we were introduced to & the fact & figures mentioned to me – left me with many questions. Back then, I used to be an ardent fast fashion shopper who cared little to nothing about the quality of the clothes I bought or where they were made. Learning facts such as the fashion industry being a contributor to green house gas emissions and also an unstable place for those who make our garments – pushed me to question my own consumption pattern & remember how I’d actually known so much about garment making through all the Indian traditional clothes I’d owned. It was just that I wasn’t aware to the extend to which the industry was so opaque. Something in me switched that year & I never looked back.

This is when I learnt what sustainable clothing meant after all, met with individuals who were on the same journey as me and also began following brands who were vouching for a better industry. I was living in between India and Singapore back then (my two homes) and chose to join Fashion Revolution Singapore as-well to learn further and figure what my next steps would be. By then I had graduated as-well, and was also in the midst of figuring out my next career move. Through all my research & conversations, I realized back in 2017 that the view consumers had of sustainable clothing was very dry and stereotypical & additionally there weren’t many brands who were offering versatility in sustainable clothing. I wanted to be able to change that notion, and show consumers how well made clothing could be a part of their day to day journeys. This is where the idea of SUI came about. Being brought up in India, I’ve known a lot about our textile history and there fore from the start I wanted to make sure that – the clothes we created were modern, versatile and wearable but were made using Indian crafts, fabrics and makers. Today we strive forward with that exact goal!

We launched the brand in 2018, and started pushing locally in Singapore around 2019. Via our website – we ship worldwide.

Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?

Yes sort of! This includes a 45 minute workout, a quick walk with my dog and my morning coffee catch up on to do lists or the news. These 3 things are my constants – and get my started for whatever is ahead.

What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?

On the business front : Educating potential customers and making consumers understand the price and the why behind our garments. I would say this is definitely a barrier which slows down the pace in which we can scale further. However over the years – we have learnt to communicate better, in unique ways to our customers and potential customers – and hope to keep growing from here on.

On the operational front : Finding the right vendors & collaborators who are aligned with our ethos and believe in the same view as us when it comes to a fair industry. This has taken us time & work to build relationships with those who are now our fabric suppliers and vendors.

Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of SUI, who made your garments? Can you tell us a bit about them?

Of course! Our clothes are manufactured by a small team of 8 based in New Delhi, India. Many of them have been with the brand from it’s early days. Tahir is our master who cuts all our fabric and manages the team – he was our very first tailor! We have 4 tailors who craft our garments, 2 who hand embroiderers and 1 machine embroiders. Most of them are based in Delhi with their immediate families while have their larger families in villages across India. Along side – we work in a shared factory as my mother’s tailors so our garments are hemmed by the women who work for both brands. We call them our thread spellers. Our fabric is handmade fabric is via Women Weave in Maheshwar and our machine made fabric is via vendors who are GOTS certified based in Delhi, Calcutta and the South of India. Our fabric is hand printed by our block printer Vijendra in Bagru, Rajasthan while our fabric is dyed via 2 vendors based in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

All of these are teams we’ve have long term relationships with & those who aren’t based in Delhi – we visit them 1-2 times a year!

Why did you pick the fabrics you have chosen to work with?

It goes back to our ethos as a brand when we say that we craft clothing with a green heart. This means that we respect the people who craft our pieces and the planet in doing so. This lies true for when we choose our fabrics. We consider 2 things which is the impact they have on the planet in terms of their process and how & where are they being made. This is why we choose to work at a large capacity with handmade fabrics, because they support a craft & a community behind them. With all our machine made fabrics – it is important they are certified or sourced from vendors who are inline with our ethos.

Best piece of advice you have ever received?

Via my Dad, who’s been a mentor & pillar for me through this journey

“Good things take time, work hard & trust the journey – and of course don’t forget to have fun along the way”

What’s next for you and SUI?

A good question! With all the uncertainty in the world, things have been changing a lot but I would definitely give credit to the past year which helped us build a strong foundation as a brand. In the next few months we will be launching our new website and a new chapter closer to Holiday Season which we are very excited about. In a larger sense, I would say we’ve set ourselves on a path to hopefully take our story to more & more women – and hopefully introduce SUI to their day to day journeys and in term help them understand the beauty of Indian crafts & textiles and slow fashion. We hope to keep growing in our key markets being Singapore & India while slowly building awareness in new markets such as Australia, NZ and U.S.A. On the design & crafts side – we’re definitely hoping we keep growing our impact towards the communities we work with, so that we can with that growth we can further benefit those who make our clothes.

One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?

Small is Beautiful , this book came recommended to me and I read it through the very first lockdown in 2020. It wasn’t an easy read but it surely resonated with me in the midst of what was going on in the world. It helps one understand why small scale isn’t bad and in fact a way to business which is better for many aspects of our planet. It also touches upon how mass manufacturing and not knowing when growth is enough – has brought us to a point of no return. The most amazing thing about the book is that it was written back in the 1970s yet so relevant.

Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?

There are so many amazing people I’ve met on this journey – it’s very hard to pin point just one person! So I’d just like to give them a shout.

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