Kriti Tula, co-founder Doodlage shares her experience of working with Decathlon Innovation Lab to solve the problem of sustainability. Kriti worked closely with the store and sustainability teams on the second life project of Decathlon India.
"At Doodlage we create a limited edition collection out of large quantities of fabric wasted in garment factories in India. We have also recently expanded to include a wide range of recycled fabrics (recycled nylon, recycled cotton, recycled polyester, recycled leather) to create fresh collections. All our fabric waste is used to create accessories and stationery products making us a zero-waste unit. All this is done with production partners in India - committed to fair wages." - Kriti Tula, Co-founder, Doodlage
How, when, and why did you decide to start with Doodlage?
As a designer, I was always inclined to find solutions and Doodlage started exactly with that agenda. Our aim was to start a conversation around ways to bring circularity in fashion and raise awareness around the impact of a linear fashion model. As a bootstrapped firm, we worked with one problem at a time with very limited funds and carefully curated our small supply chain. We started collecting fabric waste from factories around Delhi, rejected for minor defects, and post-cutting waste which are panels that are big enough to be stitched back together to cut more pieces. This allowed us to create short well-finished limited-edition collections, saving tonnes of fabric from landfills and down-cycling. As we grew to understand various issues, scale, and impact of the fashion industry, we found ourselves more committed to building a social enterprise making season-less clothes working to provide better living wages for our artisans and low impact raw material.
Decathlon India's product at the repair centre
What do you think people will be most surprised to find out about you?
I hope to find out in the comments section of this post
How has Doodlage created an impact so far?
Sustainability is the balance between the environment, the economy and ethics. And a linear fashion industry has never worked to maintain this balance. The take-make-waste economy becomes profitable by selling more but garments are not so disposable. Once made, a polyester top stays with us for more than 200 years. Our artisans are still struggling to make ends meet, after working for years with multinational brands. Garment production is making irreversible changes to our environment. 1.5 trillion liters of water is used by the fashion industry every year. 342 million oil barrels are used every year to produce plastic-based fibres every year. 70 million trees are cut down each year to make plant-based fibre for our clothes. 57% of these garments end in landfills while 100% of these garments can be put to better use or can be recycled. India has no effective collection system at the moment, so every fashion product created in one of the largest fashion economies in the world is destined for landfills. In a sustainable model you care for the people throughout the supply chain, you ensure that everyone in the system earns a decent standard of living. You ensure your products are cyclic in nature with minimum impact on the environment. Value in this system is created by not just selling but reselling and repairing too. So it's hard to put a finger on a single pressing issue when the whole system is faulty. We have worked this
We have diverted more than 15000 meters of fabric since Jan this year. Saving all the exhaustible resources that are consumed in fresh fabric production. With each of our collaborations, we hope to create more awareness and inspire more millennials to do more and make a difference in whatever way they can. We are now an organic community of 85,000 people just on social media reaching millions of people every week with this conversation.
When did you start working with Decathlon Innovation lab? What problem were you trying to solve?
We had pitched for the 'second life project' last year to reduce in-store waste tackling consumer returns and store defectives by repairing, upcycling, and finally reselling the products. It is estimated that producing a fresh cotton t-shirt can consume up to 2500 liters of water-saving a T-shirt and extending its life allows us to save all of those resources reducing the pressure on our limited natural resources.
Decathlon Brigade Road Store, Bengaluru
What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6, and 12 months with Decathlon India?
The first month is to streamline processes identifying defective products, creating a system to list all the defective products to prepare them to be sent to the repair center, putting processes in place for the products to reach the repair center once a week. Testing this process in one store and aligning other stores to replicate the process. Create prototypes of upcycled products during the pilot phase. After evaluating the success of the pilot pitch to expand the model to other cities. The system will be decentralized to reduce the carbon footprint and hire local artisans in each city.
How did you apply the learnings from Decathlon India to your product?
It is too early to identify and adapt learnings from this project but executed at scale it will make decathlon India the first brand to create repair centers in the country to upcycle, repair and resell their products to reduce the impact on exhaustible resources while creating alternative economies. This will allow us to inspire so many brands and people to do more.
How was your journey with Innovation Lab?
Innovation allows any brand to stay relevant, trying less traveled routes; we are so glad to have stumbled upon the innovation lab and to have the opportunity to work towards finding circular solutions to a massive problem that the world is struggling with.
What are we (Decathlon) doing well, and where is there an opportunity to grow?
Just the fact that you are looking for solutions to lower your environmental impact and have a dedicated team to find more solutions to point the brand in the right direction is a good place to start with. I have learnt over the last few months how you have been working with the product and packaging to reduce the environmental impact of your brand. There is definitely an opportunity to talk more about the work you are doing to your consumers. It's important to sensitise the people about your work and the need to shop better by talking more about the sustainability index of each product. It is about time that we get people to shop better by educating them more especially when Decathlon already does a good job with experiential marketing.
What did you enjoy the most about working with the Decathlon India team?
Identifying new problems and working to find solutions together. Perseverance of each member to push for the success of this project.
What do you have to say to aspiring entrepreneurs building sustainable brands or products?
There cannot be enough people doing good. So do more!
It's a tough road and you would want to do a lot but everything is a process and it will take time. Be patient and take each day as it comes and do your bit and the brand will find its course.
Don't stop learning. It's a new field for all of us and there are so many new discoveries every day.