Q&A with Neha Kabra, Maati Clothing
Maati, meaning soil or earth, is a contemporary womenswear label by Neha Kabra based in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Their pieces are the perfect blend of creativity, comfort and functionality. This is expressed in their philosophy – ‘the more comfortable you are the more productive you will be’. Maati is an eco-friendly, PETA verified vegan brand. They upcycle a part of their fabric, use natural dyes and print colours and follow plastic-free packaging.
Q. How long has Maati been around for? And how do you perceive the industry to have changed since you first started?
A. Maati has been around for three years now. And a lot has changed. The industry has become inclusive, I have seen a change in the designer community where they have sourced their resources, increased awareness around sustainability and in the last year, we’ve also seen a change in the consumption cycle.
Q. What are the main problems you see in the fashion sector today vis-a-vis sustainability?
A. Sustainable fashion is still a niche market so it has to grow and there is still room for making it more inclusive. People know about it but understanding the cycle and fair cost system is also equally important.
Q. Given that many brands are now being accused of greenwashing, how are the more conscious brands like Maati implementing change within the sector?
A. Maati does not claim to be 100% sustainable. We are trying to make changes as much as we can. We use handloom fabric, especially khadi—which uses less water, less electricity and bare minimum carbon footprint. We also use 100% biodegradable materials—the idea is for your mind, body and soul to breathe, so we ensure there’s no use of plastic in the cycle, and use eco-friendly colours, handcrafted techniques and artisan-based work.
Q. How do you inspire your customers to continue to invest in sustainable wear?
A. We impart knowledge. More than focusing on selling garments, we are really trying to get the conversation going.
Q. Which brands would you recommend in India to imbibe the truest form of sustainability?
A. There a lot of brands who are trying to be as sustainable as possible. One of my favourites is Rias.
Q. How can we as consumers drive more pressure for sustainability in fashion?
A. So you cannot just have sustainable fashion, you need to have a sustainable lifestyle. And I think consumers have the maximum power to bring change. Question how, what, when and who made your products. And share that what would you like as a consumer so the designers can fulfil that need.
Q. And lastly, how do you envision the sector evolving? Are you hopeful?
A. Yes, post-Covid, people have become very mindful of their choices. There has been a change in the buying process where comfort is valued a lot more over quantity. And when you talk about quality, it is an overall situation where we are talking not just about fashion, but quality of life—of ourselves and others.