Hey guys! I actually had the pleasure of interviewing Karishma Shahani Khan from the sustainable designer label Ka Sha, and personally, I love her brand and her collections! Ka sha is synonymous with up-cycling, bright colours and contemporary, quirky silhouettes created in ethnic fabrics!
Initially I wanted to do a video, but the sound quality was quite poor, and so after much deliberation and massive amounts of delay, I’ve decided to post the interview as an article instead!
I asked her a few questions about her journey and what her label stands for.
Hope you enjoy reading it and learn from her experiences, as much as I did 🙂
Sonal: So, Karishma, what was your journey like? How did you begin, why did you decide to do this and what does your label stand for?
Karishma: “I’d be lying if I said that I wanted to be a fashion designer from the beginning. I didn’t. My grandfather was a freedom fighter, so everyone at home wore khadi all the time. But, as you do when people are already doing something at home, I took it for granted.
When I went to study in the UK, I actually realized the value of what we have as a country, in India – colours, textiles and so much more.
While I was away, I did a couple of internships in India with NGOs. And that was something that really opened my eyes to various things – whether it’s the plight of the craftsmen; or just the beauty of the craft.
So, while I was doing my collection, this year, I focused on India as my main inspiration and I worked on the idea of how travel between these two very diverse countries really inspired my work and my entire journey.”
“I remember my grand aunt’s reaction when I told her I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she mused. “She looked at me and said, ‘I thought you’d go to Oxford and study philosophy, and now all you want to be is a glorified tailor?’ And I looked at her, horrified, and said, ‘This is not what you’re supposed to say to me!’ And she said, ‘But that’s what you’re going to be.’
Karishma says that she was always very interested in history and anthropology as a student. “I feel like, in some strange way, fashion gives me that opportunity,” she said. “It lets me explore culture, see what people are wearing and actually create based on that. And that’s what I love about it.”
Sonal: What made you go the sustainable route and what would make more and more people take it up?
Karishma: “I learned a lot about sustainability while I was in London because it was something everyone started talking about, along with the impact of fashion on the environment. Every time I would come from London and land in Bombay, I would see Dharavi just covered in plastic during monsoon, which made me think about the amount of plastic that we use in this world.
I think that when we are working with sustainability and these kind of ideas, we are working for the larger good. It’s not an individual goal, because the world getting better doesn’t benefit me or you, it’s for everybody. Our kids, their kids, everyone to come. So, until people start realizing that, it’s going to be very hard to explain to them why people need to be paid better, why working conditions have to be better, why we have to stop throwing things in a landfill. If more people are aware of what they are buying, what they are wearing and how it’s being made, it increases our level of sustainability, so even if fast fashion brands exist, it’s okay! But that balance needs to be maintained somehow.”
Sonal: Do you feel that Indian art and craft was valued more abroad than in India?
Karishma: “I think we see color and craft everywhere, we’ve grown up with it. So, we assume that it is common, and it becomes a blind-spot. You’re not seeing how it’s being applied or how it’s being done. In other countries, I think that there’s a lot more value for Indian handicraft because they probably see lesser of it and there’s a novelty value.”
Sonal: So, what’s your message to everyone who thinks sustainable fashion is expensive for the sake of being expensive?
Karishma: “You are, inevitably, in some amazing and gracious way, funding maybe a craftsperson’s family, a farmer’s family, a weaver’s family, a dyer’s family or an embroiderer’s family. So, you’re actually benefitting a lot more people than you think. You’re benefiting society, and not an individual.”
Check out Karishma’s collections at https://www.ka-sha.in/
Hope you enjoyed reading this, and don’t forget to follow me on instagram for more regular updates and tips on fashion, beauty and lifestyle.