In recent years, we have seen several campaigns encouraging consumers to “shop small” or “buy local”, promoting sustainability and supporting small businesses and indie brands rather than larger corporations. This message is particularly poignant when it comes to the fashion and accessories sector, as big-name brands are often the most significant contributors to fast fashion and textiles waste.
Real Business sat down with Amrit Bhogal, designer and owner of indie fashion brand, Dastaar Clothing, to discuss breaking into the fashion retail industry and prioritising sustainability throughout the product creation process.
Bhogal launched Dastaar Clothing in 2019, determined to bring more affordable options to the sustainable fashion market. Often, when looking at pieces that are made sustainably, they have luxury prices attached, putting them out of reach of the average shopper. Dastaar’s aim is to introduce the planet-friendly fashion average buyers are looking for at prices that don’t break the bank, without compromising on quality or style. Bhogal’s passion for design and fascination with fashion has been a lifelong flame.
“I’ve always been that unique kid that wanted interesting fashion and I was always looking for things that would stand out. Although I would get told “what are you wearing?” or “what are you doing, buying stuff like this?”, it never put me off. That initial interest in fashion led me into design, so I’ve worked in app design, interior design, but I’m passionate about fashion. When the opportunity came around, when I finally had the time and not so many commitments, I decided to go for it and launched Dastaar clothing.”
Bhogal takes a lot of inspiration from the world around him for his designs, focusing on comfort, wearability, and an urban streetwear style that suits every gender.
“I go through a number of iterations until I’m happy with a design and I will normally put a post or story online, on Instagram, to get some feedback from my followers and if they love it and say good things about it, I will move forward with production. Making sure our customers are going to love everything we produce is incredibly important and their feedback is really valuable to me.”
With sustainability at the heart of the brand, Bhogal has made significant efforts to source manufacturers that uphold Dastaar’s brand values and environmental promises. All Dastaar Clothing products are produced by affiliates and business partners that work closely with the Fair Wear Foundation. Working with FWF certifies that Bhogal’s manufacturing process and supply chains use the best practises and processes to ensure they have as small an impact on the planet as possible.
“We do our best for the environment and the world. We know how much waste is created through packaging. We use biodegradable packaging to help keep the planet cleaner. Our manufacturers use renewable energy, we constantly get updates on how they review their working conditions, and the materials are high-quality, durable cotton or recycled fabrics that give our products a long lifetime which helps reduce fashion waste.”
There are considerable challenges for indie brands to get a foothold in the industry. Getting a new brand noticed in an over-saturated market with a small budget can be incredibly difficult. Bhogal put much of his marketing focus into building a social media following, creating content that showcased his designs for platforms like Instagram to make the most out of the low-cost nature of social media. Influencer marketing allowed Dastaar to accumulate the reviews, customer testimonials, and third-party promotions that boost a brand’s image and pushes the company out to new audiences. Bhogal’s brand now boasts a 13k following, showcasing how small businesses can use social media as a huge advantage to their marketing campaigns.
Over the next year, Bhogal is hoping to be able to travel and visit his international manufacturers to see the garment production process first-hand. The world has finally opened back up, so he is looking into options of opening pop-up stores across London and taking Dastaar to networking events and markets across the UK.
The ultimate goal? Bhogal is hoping to one day see Dastaar clothes on the shelves of high-end department stores like Selfridges. Currently, the brand is an online-only company, so getting his products into well-known and appreciated shops will be the mark of quality he is aiming for with his sustainable fashion.
What advice would you give young entrepreneurs or someone who is just starting their business journey?
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to push yourself or spend on yourself. If you don’t learn or improve your skills, take the time and money to do that. And be original, be yourself. It’s not about trying to be anybody else, try not to imitate anyone. Do what makes you happy.”