#VocalForLocal: Bodice on Creating an Ethical Brand for the Future

Developing a new language of modernity in fashion, Ruchika Sachdeva’s Bodice is a representation of Indian women who are challenging conventions of today’s society.

Undeniably contemporary, Bodice embraces India’s rich heritage by reinventing traditional silhouettes with their unique approach on minimalism.

While corporate brands continue greenwashing to appear ethical by frivolously using terms such as 'eco-friendly' and 'conscious', Sachdeva steers clear from being labelled a ‘sustainable’ brand, as she believes it is a basic responsibility and no longer a unique selling point for any modern brand. This week at Le Mill, we got in conversation with the International Woolmark Prize winner, to further explore Bodice’s futuristic approach to design for sustainability, tracing local textiles and maintaining transparency.

Adaptability for Longevity

"Just making beautiful clothes is not rewarding. As a designer, I wanted to add more value to our collections and make our practices more meaningful. We expect consumers to increase their cycle of wearability, but as a brand how can we aim to design for longevity? We set out an inquiry and found size, versatility and design to be a few reasons why people discard their clothes. We decided to include the functional and geometrical aspects of pattern making in our collections by drawing inspiration from traditional Indian garments such as dhotis and sarees. As our clothes are very structured, we added a double button on the waist which allows you to alter a size up or down without hampering the fit. To make our garments more versatile, we incorporated our signature pleats, which can be added or removed to play with the length of the garment - Tops can be made into dresses and vice versa. Finally, when it comes to increasing the longevity of our designs, we carefully select a balanced color palette as people easily get wearied of trendy patterns and loud designs."

Androgynous Designs for a Sustainable Future

"We are all questioning genders and do not want to be boxed into male, female or other. Even as females, we have a masculine edge to our dressing and contrariwise. Not that I believe I was ahead of the curve, but my intuitive personality inspected gender neutrality before it became a trend within the industry. And to answer, 'if gender-neutral clothing could be the future of sustainable fashion?' Of course, the more sensitive we get with conversations around gender, the more we open our mind to this ever-changing Indian society."

Supply Chain Traceability and Transparency

"We at Bodice have a few factors that we keep in mind to ensure that our process is as ethical as possible. When it comes to sourcing fabrics, one of the key aspects is biodegradability. We want to be mindful about what goes back to nature and not end up in landfill. While incorporating a lot of indigenous techniques and fabrics into our designs, we make sure to work with the right local groups who are being paid ethically. To check their working conditions, I personally visit and interact with these local artisans. Before the lockdown, I had the opportunity to travel across India and really connect with our workers, as communicating their stories is the essence of our brand story.

Nowadays, consumers are making a conscious effort to be sustainable and it is the brands responsibility to be true to the promises they make. At Bodice, transparency is key, we always write what fabrics are used and share any additional information about its origins with our consumers. Even though it was challenging to achieve waterproof packaging without using plastic, it was important that we took time and invested in biodegradable packaging."

Environmental Impact of Fashion Week

"We believe that fashion weeks raise concerns around sustainability and are not the only way to communicate our vision. Hence, we made a very conscious decision and quit the traditional format of the fashion calendar about a year and half ago. In the future, we will only showcase our collection if we want to start a dialogue or convey a message, because it is crucial that the positive effects of the show outweigh the impact it has on the environment and everyone involved. The value system and philosophy behind Bodice not only reflects in our collection but also extends to every choice we make. We always remind ourselves to push boundaries and stay true to our purpose."