If I asked you to picture a beautiful scene from nature, you might imagine rolling green hills, lush tree canopies or flowers dancing in the breeze. Sounds picturesque, right? And while it may not always look like it on the surface, our planet is suffering. Overexploitation of natural resources and human negligence has lead to a climate crisis that’s completely altering the way we live and work. The production of our clothes plays a big part in this change; did you know the fashion industry racks up more carbon emissions than maritime and shipping combined?
As more of us become aware of how what we wear and how we buy affects our planet, it becomes clear that there’s more that can be done, individually and collectively. Most importantly, every small step counts, and that’s a mantra that Mahima Gujral—founder of slow fashion label SUI—lives by every day.
Mahima’s love for nature goes hand-in-hand with her love for fashion, and combines the two through SUI. She takes inspiration from every sunset, leaf and flower, to craft timeless fashion pieces designed to respect people and planet. The slow fashion entrepreneur shares how she continually deepens her relationship with nature, and how we can do the same.
You’re vocal about your love for both nature and fashion. Why merge these two passions?
Ever since my teens, nature has been a major inspiration to me. Back then I wrote poetry about the sky, plants and random things I stumbled upon during my travels, which translated into photography followed by an Instagram journal page. I documented all the little details of places I visited: what I loved, or what made my heart smile, especially sunsets, skies, and wildflowers. When I had the idea to start SUI, I dove into this inspiration journal to tell these stories through our clothing. This way, our customers can take a piece of this story back with them.
Over the years, my connection with nature has deepened immensely through SUI. In turn, our label sets out to pave a more responsible path, and craft with respect towards our natural world. My greatest joy is to showcase the beautiful relationship between traditional artisan craft and the planet and how we can incorporate the same when we make our clothes.
Given fashion’s impact, what steps do you take to make your label a force for change?
We’re honest and upfront with our community about every small step our label takes to reach our bigger goal: a greener and kinder fashion industry. At SUI, we live by the simple principle of crafting with a green heart. Essentially, we prioritise planet and people within all that we do, not just design and sales. Using this as our guiding light, our brand pillars and attributes (which have yet to launch fully—stay tuned) follow the same.
Our pillars are what we abide by when we design products, manage our teams & vendors, as we solidify and build our green heart community. Our attributes help us measure the impact of each garment and how they contribute to our values. This helps our customers understand exactly what they are paying for, and introduces these qualities to their own wardrobes.
Knowing what you know now about the fashion supply chain, is there anything you’d have told the younger you?
Yes! To stop buying so many clothes and asking questions such as #whomademyclothes?
How do you stay motivated to continue advocating for a fairer fashion industry?
I can’t do it without my support system. Speaking to my entire team, having meaningful conversations with our vendors, artisan partners, our community and of course my love for nature and craft keeps me focused. During difficult times, going back to your purpose truly helps readjust your perspective. Every time I feel down and out, I remind myself that our purpose as entrepreneurs within the sustainability space is so clear: it’s the fight for a fairer world, a fairer industry and as humans, a better ‘we’. With that, I encourage myself to not give up and keep moving forward.
Last but not least, how do you feel individuals or brands can be more #Down4Earth?
By giving Earth a chance. We need to keep remembering the connection we all hold with nature and manifest it in our day-to-day. I know it sounds cheesy, but I really believe that working towards understanding that link opens up a new unexplored path.
The first thing I’d say is that we never stop learning. Continue to educate yourself about sustainability and implement even small practices in your personal and professional life. Importantly, connect with others who are passionate about the same. Have those conversations and strive to build a support system around it. Trust me, this goes a long way.
Finally, always remember that each of our journeys—and pace—are different. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you see someone else on a different path, or on the same path but further ahead. All that matters is if you, as an individual or a brand, are taking steps to do better for your journey.
#Down4Earth is a social awareness campaign launched by ZERRIN on World Environment Day 2021. The campaign features Singapore-based sustainability advocates with a passion for urban farming, circular fashion, composting and more. They prove that there’s more to sustainability than the quintessential 3 R’s and there’s something everyone can do. Discover more about the campaign. Photography, styling and production by ZERRIN STUDIO.
With a background in fashion and textiles, Durva is an ardent photographer and advocate of social justice. She enjoys writing about fashion, socio-political issues within sustainability and partakes in the occasional 'who wore it better' banter on Diet Prada.