Journey of an outfit: Sunflower Soul blazer

“Becoming more mindful about clothing means looking at every fibre and every seed and every dye and seeing how to make it better. We want to make sustainability our way of life; we want it to be universal. Our goal is simple: Design without negative impacts right from the start.” — Eileen Fisher, fashion designer

Every step of any journey has an impact. Choices have an impact. Every day, we have the opportunity to make choices that either help or harm our planet, and within our SUI journey, it’s no different so we do our best to be as mindful of each of them as possible.

Designing with a conscious mind is something we have always dedicated ourselves to doing. From start to end, fibre to fabric, there’s endless ways to look at our production and figure out just where we can reduce our waste, use alternative sustainable materials, and so on. With each collection, we grow in this knowledge and we are so proud of how far we have come but know that there is more to go.

Today, to exemplify how our journey is going so far, we wanted to tell you more about the story of our Sunflower Soul blazer. This piece is one we’re particularly proud of, it’s a silhouette that we had longed to make for some time and finally accomplish. This is its story.

Designing mindfully

Having that one staple formal piece in your wardrobe is essential for anyone on the go. If that piece also works as a statement casual piece, even better, and that’s what we wanted to ultimately achieve.

Moreover, to take you through the thought behind it, Mahima, our green founder, shares some insight:

“I’ve always loved blazers, and a good blazer goes a long way in your wardrobe. However for the longest time, the blazers I owned were either from fast fashion brands, such as Zara, and other higher quality blazers were often too expensive to afford. One of the core reasons SUI began was to offer fashion consumers sustainable alternatives to classic silhouettes in their wardrobe and show them how just because it’s consciously made, doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. A blazer is one such silhouette and, the more I looked, the more I found limited options when it came to easy oversized classic blazers.

That’s when our journey to create our first SUI blazer began, we sampled this piece about 2 to 3 times for the past 3 years and this time around we finally got it right.

Apart from a classic silhouette, it was also important for me that this blazer stood for what SUI is - a connection between nature and textiles.”

Created by hand

Khadi is a fabric we’ve loved ever since our 2018 Wildflower and Weaves collection. To be honest, our association with khadi goes back further to 2017, when Mahima was working on the first launch of SUI and researching fabrics. Back then, the knowledge base was limited and Instagram was slowly picking up, but it was hard to find the right kind of network or fabric quality. But as we grew in this journey, we knew that it was essential for us to include this fabric in our story and connecting with WomenWeave was what locked this in for us. We’ve been using their summer khadi fabric for over 3 years now, in fact just last year we crafted over 1000 metres of this fabric for our silhouettes.

For our seasonal winter edit, with the changing weather in North India and also the monsoon season in Singapore we wanted to find a fabric that would still be as breathable, handmade, yet work for fuller sleeve silhouettes. While we were on our yearly visit to Maheshwar in February 2020, Nivedeta introduced us to the same and we fell in love with the fabric instantly. It worked perfect for silhouettes which needed heavier weight fabrics and had the same charm of handmade fabric.

Green methods

In combination with being handwoven, this piece also utilises many slow, green, effective methods we have come across in our time being active. We have loved putting them all together to create this all encompassing piece, the first of which we’ll talk about is herbal dye.

We’ve spoken about our olive colour many times and no doubt this hue was perfect was our blazer and the way which we achieved it was through dyeing with natural ingredients. Herbal dye is a method we’ve used for our pieces since 2019, it was switch we very consciously made knowing the impact toxic dyes have on our planet. Using this method, allowed us to:

1. Use colours that are safe in comparison to conventional synthetic/textile dyes whose water-waste is released untreated into our environment, damaging water bodies, their ecosystems, and harming living organisms that live within them.

2. Be in close contact with our vendor and the way he dyes our products - this way we know our process in detail and understand what our overall impact is to make sure we are staying true to our green promise.

Both these factors are extremely important to our ethos and align with our pillar: responsibility towards the planet.

To give it even more of a “SUI” touch, we also worked on how we could add on pieces of nature to this silhouette that would stand out yet merge well with the garment. The colour yellow complimented the olive shade beautifully, and there we decided to work with our sunflower motif embroidery for this piece which has been hand and machine embroidered and placed in unique spots, helping bring a pop to the blazer.

And because we couldn’t get enough sunflowers, we decided to add a little surprise on the inside of the blazer that also helped in our tryst to add more versatility to each of our garments - our lining is hand block printed with our sunflower motif!

Positive impact

Finally, how does this all help our impact?

1. Handmade fabric: being avid supporters of craft, using hand spun and handwoven fabrics cultivates the art and encourages it to be carried on and passed down to even more crafters. Moreover, the art requires little to know electricity, reducing our carbon emissions immensely in comparison to conventional machine-made fabric production.

2. Organic: organic essentially means without the use of pesticides and herbicides, opting to grow fibres in a less chemically dependent way. By doing this we are supporting safer cotton alternatives that are better for the environment and ultimately better for your skin.

3. Herbal dyes: similar to our organic point, herbal in comparison to synthetic textile dyes are safer for the skin as well as safer for the planet. The big danger with synthetic dyes also comes from wastewater that’s untreated. With herbal dyeing, within our system, water is often recycled and reused but also is much safer to then be released as the ingredients are all natural anyway.

4. Handmade embroidery and made in our small space: Being that this part of our production is overseen by our core team, we make sure to pay our tailors fairly for their work, they are full time employees of SUI, and we are, in the process, able to promote handmade craft via embroidery which is not always the case with many western brands. Our inner workings have always been something we want to share with you all and has, in the past, not been a priority for fashion brands to do. However, we will continue to do so and hope better transparency spreads within our field.

Thanks for getting to know us a little better this week, we hope you have learned something new and understand what crafting slow is a bit better. Stay green! 

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