Spinning desi yarn

Siddharth's DesiTude reflects his Gandhian way of living.

Siddharth sounds very convincing and sensible when he shares his thoughts on promoting Swadeshi things. Mainly because this young man has inculcated Gandhian ideologies completely for the past five years and assures you these are not tough to crack. He loves khadi and wears clothes made with only khadi. Recently, he also started wearing the dhoti, taking inspiration from C. Rajagopalachari’s life. This was the main reason that attracted him to a fabric called khadi denim. Like everyone who wears jeans believes it can only be made with denim fabric, which is definitely not made in India, Siddharth too had only limited knowledge about this, until he saw this product at an exhibition.

Tonpha, a migrant labourer from Nagaland.Tonpha, a migrant labourer from Nagaland.

He decided to explore khadi denim and was surprised to know that jeans too can be made from this fabric. And what else could be the best way to promote our own khadi. It was this thought that persuaded him to introduce this fabric to more people and therefore DesiTude was born — an online store that makes khadi denim jeans as per orders from customers.

Rugma, an 11th  standard student.Rugma, an 11th standard student.

“I initially started the store in 2016 with the thought of making only jeans. As we started getting more orders we have now started making jackets, dungarees, jumpsuits, skirts, etc. with the same fabric. We also use different patterns like block prints, Tie and Dye, etc. I had many inhibitions when I thought of starting a business because people willing to buy khadi are very few, because the fabric itself is expensive. Making a garment and selling it after taking my margin was a tough task. Also, the fabric is susceptible to shrinking and colour bleeding.

Manu, who takes  people for horse ride.Manu, who takes people for horse ride.

Therefore, it has to be washed a number of times before making the garment. However, things have slowly started falling in place and I am getting orders. As many as 116 till date,” he says.

For Siddharth, DesiTude, is not a typical business venture where profit is the prime priority. He has certain ideologies and will never compromise on them for the sake of generating business. This is why despite all the hard work and purchasing expensive fabric, Siddharth sells one pair of jeans for Rs 4,000, which according to him is definitely a lot for an average person. But the product is purely handcrafted with an Indian fabric.

Those who respect and believe the ideology behind DesiTude are his customers. But the garments are indeed cheaper two other brands, which too have khadi jeans for sale. They cost around Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000 per pair. “This is a business with smaller margins and a lot of social commitment. I can never approach it with a business mentality,” says Siddharth, who cites this as one of the reasons why he is not getting in terms with those who are interested to invest in DesiTude.

Radha, a domestic help.Radha, a domestic help.

Another unique concept that makes DesiTude stand apart is that the people who model for the brand are migrant workers and laymen.

Siddharth explains, “Migrant labourers are the ones who leave their homeland and come to Kerala in search of livelihood. Majority of them also work hard. We require their help, yet do not acknowledge them. I thought asking these people, who do not fit in the mould of a model, was the perfect way to show them even they are talented and have a place in society.”

He adds that his photographer Anjali Gopan supported him in this regard as she too had the same attitude. Therefore, they finally ended up doing photo shoots that break stereotypes.

As part of its social commitment, DesiTude sets aside 10 per cent of the bill value of every sale towards any social cause. Siddharth has also associated with CodeRed, an initiative started by three law students, which provides unprivileged girls access to sanitary napkins. But he is in search of a more sustainable Swadeshi source for the napkins.

He has also come to know about an incinerator made by a man in Rajasthan that would help in the proper disposal of these napkins and is planning to buy it along with CodeRed. Another step that Siddharth is readily involved in is planting saplings.

“I am an environmental engineering graduate and was keen on planting trees from my college days itself. I have taken a decision that with every sale at DesiTude, we plant as many saplings. If a single customer buys three products, we plant as many saplings. It was last week only that my friends and I went to Palakkad and planted about 118 saplings,” he adds.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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