The constant turmoil of the fashion industry to keep the cogs of commerce moving has taken its toll on our environment. Fortunately, a few visionaries have made it their mission to repair the damage done so far. Based in MumbaiFounded by Bhavini Parikh in 2017 is one of those recycled and eco-friendly fashion brands that strives to make a difference.
âAs a textile artist and fashion designer, I was interested in learning more about ethical sustainable fashion. I saw endless opportunities in the incredible amount of tissue waste we would end up with in the creation process. I wanted to reduce the amount of waste, while maintaining high standards of design and production. Over the past few years, my work has focused entirely on converting the waste thrown onto the cutting area into commercially viable products using environmentally friendly recycling and manufacturing methods, âBhavini explains during a conversation with YS Weekender.
Textile artist, fashion designer, social entrepreneur and creative director – Bhavini has worn several hats over the 29 years of his career. She graduated from SVT College of Home Science at SNDT Women’s University with a degree in Home and Resource Management in 1987.
The desire to show her creativity to the world led her to work on the ornamentation of textile surfaces such as embroidery. She hired and trained more than 1000 women living in her locality for this business and contributed to their socio-economic development.
Soon after, she launched her own clothing line called BN Fashion with her husband, through whom they made clothes for brands like Vira, Ethnicity, Handloom Emporium, Aari, Maaya Clothing, among others. It was then that she was introduced to the immense web of waste that was an unfortunate result of the production process.
She began to creatively reuse waste materials to make clothes, furnishings and other innovative pieces to display at exhibitions, which led to the launch of Bunko Junko. The word Bunko means art decoration in Japanese and Junko is a play on the word junk.
âBunko Junko is about innovating in ways and methods to save landfill, energy and water and ultimately support sustainability. We are dedicated to recycling textiles by designing an eco-friendly business model and hiring the under-skilled youth and women in our community, we strive to improve their livelihoods through sustainable income-generating activities . We only have one planet, and it’s up to us to make it the best we can – and that’s our mission now and in the future, âBhavini exclaims emphatically.
Along with their core philosophy of recycling discarded materials, Bunko Junko’s five-member core team pride themselves on providing employment opportunities to women in need, enabling them in turn to contribute income. family and become independent while working from home and caring for their children and elderly parents.
Bhavini with the workers
Currently, they are training 50 residents of three villages in Karjat in Maharashtra and ordering quilts from workers in villages in Gujarat.
âOver the past 29 years, I have trained over 5,000 women from Virar to Colaba in Mumbai, and all the way to Gujarat. I am delighted when these women tell me about their personal successes, where they have also been able to educate their children who have become engineers and CAs, âsays Bhavini.
Other social welfare initiatives undertaken by her include educating students about entrepreneurship opportunities at local and national level.
They also recently set up an art installation at the Kalaghoda Art Festival highlighting the importance of recycling textiles to deal with the growing overflow of landfills and save the oceans from the effects of fast fashion.
Bunko Junko attempts to blend concepts of sustainability with innovative design. Bhavini shares: âWe design, deconstruct and develop chic clothing using industrial waste, dead stock and sustainable materials. This means that each of our products has its own story and that no two garments are the same.
Their design process is based on the philosophy that their garments should be comfortable and functional, made with recycled materials in accordance with their zero waste policy. Everything from production is put back into service through different types of quilting, knitting
back fabrics, or through unique accessories.
âWe hope to recreate the fashion industry and make textile upcycling a globally accepted practice. Someday we would like Bunko Junko to become the best recycled clothing brand producing clothing at industrial level. We want to be a known name both for our environmental sustainability measures and for our focus on socio-economic development, âshe explains.
Besides clothing, Bunko Junko designs and sells home furnishings, accessories, toys, masks, as well as awards and cords for corporate events. Festive specialties include Christmas tree decorations and festive wreaths, among others. However, their most popular products are their jackets which can be worn in different ways and are one of a kind.
The products are retailed on their website bunkojunko.com, as well as various online platforms like LBB, World Art Community, Upciclo, Flipkart, Amazon and others. They can
be shipped anywhere in India or overseas. Their price is in a range of Rs 799 for small decorative items and up to Rs 3500 for jackets and other fashion items.
The story of growth
According to a report published in the Business Research Company, the global ethical fashion market size reached a value of nearly $ 6.35 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $ 8.25 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 6 , 8%. This growth is mainly due to the growing awareness of the use of ethical fashion for sustainability.
The report also says countries like India and China adopting sustainability measures have further boosted growth. He points out that in August 2019, the Indian government launched a project called SURE which aims to evolve towards sustainable fashion contributing to a clean environment.
Bunko Junko is also committed to this goal. Having started with a minimal investment of Rs 5000, they have experienced widespread growth, drawing on social media and sharing their knowledge with engaged and concerned youth in the country.
Asked about the competitors, Bhavini names Doodlage. However, she believes her work stands out because Bunko Junko’s offerings fall into a more affordable category.
Discussing plans for future expansion, Bhavini shares, âWe are grateful to our supporters as their support and guidance has helped us a lot. We had taken up space to open in Orbit Mall in Mumbai, but due to the COVID-19 setback, we haven’t been able to get it off the ground yet. However, we are opening our one of a kind store on August 16, 2022 in Mumbai. “