Hyderabadi designer in search of greener pastures; sustainable fashion

Cut to today, the designer, whose designs have been worn by the biggies of Bollywood and Tollywood, has decided to shut shop in search for greener pastures, literally

author_img Shreya Veronica Published :  08th February 2022 11:04 AM   |   Published :   |  08th February 2022 11:04 AM

Shilpa Reddy

Last year in May, when the deadly second wave had reached its peak in Hyderabad, many of us had realised the importance of living a cleaner existence and switching to a sustainable way of life. CE had interviewed fashion designer Shilpa Reddy about this and she threw some light on the fashion industry being the third most polluting industry on the planet. “Though my identity had been created as a designer, it was not giving me the gratification I wanted from my profession,” she had said as she went on to explain why she moved entirely to using handlooms.

Cut to today, the designer, whose designs have been worn by the biggies of Bollywood and Tollywood, has decided to shut shop in search for greener pastures, literally. After 12 years of establishing Shilpa Reddy Studio, she has announced that she will be closing the store. She tells us why.  

Ask her the reason behind her decision and it still is the same -- the guilt of being a part of a highly polluting industry. “This thought had started to bother me a few years ago. I had changed my business module; tried to use cotton, Chanderi and other natural fibre blends such as silk and jute. But the thought kept lingering -- that I am selling more than what people need,” she says.

In short, Shilpa did not feel that her heart was in the right place. “I feel very strongly about sustainability and what I was doing did not feel right. I studied fashion in Toronto and I suddenly could not call it quits. I had always dreamt of becoming a fashion designer and I just could not kill my brand overnight. So, when I tried to change my business module, I lost a lot of clients.

 People had got used to my designs and were not willing to spend a rupee more. But handlooms come at a cost,” she says as she explains the conflict of ideologies raging in her mind through the years. While Shilpa was looking for new clientele and ideas for her label, she got the idea of opening a school. “Ekam school happened and that felt extremely gratifying as I knew that I was adding so much value to the society by educating children,” she says.

For Shilpa, money has never been a driving factor. “I am in a position to say that this is not my bread and butter. I would rather do something that keeps my conscience clear than run after money. In fact, I have spent more than I have ever earned in designing,” says the designer, who has been raising awareness on social media about sustainable living throughout the pandemic and even anchors a talk show on YouTube.

One thing led to another and she started SustainKart — a marketplace for sustainable living. “A lot of investors started to show interest in it as there is no other e-commerce website like SustainKart. That’s when I thought that it is time to drop something that is not resonating with me. I discussed it with my family and they knew that I had made this decision after a lot of thought. I wanted to exit with grace.”

Designing had helped Shilpa express her true self and she has made some precious memories along the way. “But, priorities change, I would rather be honest with myself than brushing the facts under the carpet. Life is for once and I don’t want to live with regrets. It was the right time,” she says.  Shilpa plans to hold a big clearance sale before the new fiscal financial year. She will announce the details on Tuesday. Meanwhile, she has grand plans for SustainKart and Ekam.

“We will become a house of brand by acquiring those that need recognition. We will give them visibility, branding and raise awareness about them through celebrity endorsements. There’s a lot of
work to do. The next two-three years are going to be very hectic for me. A lot of celebrities are interested in investing in SustainKart,” she says.

Shilpa Reddy, whose designs have been worn by the biggies of Tollywood and Bollywood, has decided to shut shop in search of greener pastures, literally. The model-designer wants to focus on her sustainable living venture. She speaks to CE about her plans