Cruelty-Free Products: Our Ethical Responsibility as Shoppers
Sustainability. Vegan. Cruelty-free. These are just some of the buzzwords of 2021 that pop up in any fashion-related discussion time and again. As a research recently reported, one in every five articles even remotely related to fashion and lifestyle products mentions cruelty-free production as a core ethical value.
But what exactly is being cruelty-free?
Simply put, cruelty-free is a term coined by animal rights activists to distinguish products or activities that do not harm or kill animals, from traditional methods that do. Products tested on animals or made from animals are not considered cruelty-free, since their production involves inflicting pain and suffering over millions of defenceless animal lives.
The fashion industry, for all its pretentious awareness about sustainability, continues to be one of the most backward communities when it comes to basics about cruelty-free production. If 101 Dalmatians' Cruella seemed a little too over the top, then rest assured, this is a daily reality of the research labs hidden behind the glamorous curtains of the fashion world. What if you were told that the leather of your handbag is the skin ripped off a live animal’s body as it screamed to death? What if you knew that to bring your favourite sling pouch to life, a bunch of innocent, defenceless animals were reared and brought up in despicable conditions only to be slaughtered mercilessly? Guilt in such cases is gut-wrenching, inevitable.
We, as consumers, wield massive control. Our buying habits have the power to revolutionise an entire industry. And hence the cruelty-free revolution. With a growing number of people focusing on how their products are being created and greater awareness about these back-end bloodbaths, fashion brands have been forced to reconsider their production methods and overall values.
Though India has been the first one to adopt cruelty-free production bans, very few brands care about where and how their raw materials come from. This is where a brand like Vivankaa stands out, giving you the chance to shop without compromising on your ethical beliefs and values as a consumer.
Vivinkaa: Your Solution to a Cruelty-Free, Budget Friendly Shopping Spree
In a market overrun with organisations using unethical means to create their products, Vivinkaa has carved quite a name for itself. Established barely 5 years ago, the brand is already gaining popularity for its ethical and cruelty-free production of high quality purses.
After working across brands like Shoppers Stop, Future Group, etc. and many e-commerce start-ups for almost two decades, Vinod Naik couldn't help but notice the most permissible gap in the market. When it comes to an ethical pocket-friendly Indian fashion label, most of the brands focused on importing bags from China and selling in India, but not even one was exploring and utilising the plethora of raw materials available across India. Not only are these raw materials more durable and ethically usable, the easy availability of the same can help reduce the overall cost of the product by a large margin.
Vivinkaa believes in being a responsible and ethical Indian brand, celebrating India’s rich repertoire of cultural fabrics. Each collection at Vivinkaa is created using only the finest of animal-friendly vegan leather and cotton canvas. Apart from heavily utilising cruelty-free raw materials, the brand also employs a planet-friendly design process, with a major focus on ensuring quality and durability of the products.
Each product is not just budget-friendly but 100% exclusive. Vivinkaa creates its own original prints and the products are all handcrafted by local craftsmen using natural and hand dyed eco-friendly fabrics. Thus, every time you buy a Vivinkaa product, you are investing in a truly 100% Indian brand, while also empowering the indigenous Indian artisan communities.
Vivinkaa is a young & vivacious brand full of energy & fun that aims to provide best value in terms of products & price. As the name suggest its the epitome of ongoing fashion in accessories.
Vinod Naik, Founder & CEO, Vivinkaa
An Interview with Vivinkaa's Founder and CEO, Vinod Naik
- Q. Tell us about yourself and your background.
- I am a passionate omni-channel retail professional with more than 2 decades of experience in the areas of Buying, Merchandising, Planning & Vendor Management, both at the domestic & international levels across companies like Shoppers Stop, Future Group, Landmark (GCC), etc.
I was also part of the Leadership Team of limeroad.com and was responsible for building up the entire vendor network from ground up. I was awarded the ''Top Retail Minds'' by Asia Africa GCC Retail Congress consecutively for the last 2 years. I am a hustler & love discovering amazing products for my customers.
- Q. What led you to create Vivinkaa and how did you go about it?
- After working across brands, large-format stores, value retail & e-commerce start-ups for more than 2 decades, I realized that there is a huge gap when it comes to an ethical pocket-friendly Indian fashion label. While most of them were focusing on importing bags from China & retailing in India, there was no one who was actually exploring the vast variety of raw material available across India. We saw an opportunity where we could utilise these resources and also empower our highly skilled local artisans.
- Q. What is your process and how do you introduce a product?
- We love curating interesting products for our customers. Our design team keeps an eye for interesting trends in the market and we also work on the feedback provided by our customers and are quick to implement it in our collection. Our turnaround time from sampling to production is real quick.
- Q. What led you to make animal and planet friendly products?
- We clearly believe that we need to take the ownership of making our planet a better place to live. We want to be known as a responsible & ethical Indian fashion brand. Our collections are created by using the finest vegan leather & cotton canvas fabrics – all cruelty-free & planet-friendly.
- Q. What are some challenges you faced in starting or running this brand?
- Being a bootstrapped company we went through our set of challenges and ups & down. Some of the key challenges were creating trust with our manufacturers and suppliers as our quantities were too less and most of these suppliers would never entertain us. Creating a winning product-market fit was very critical. Also, being a very compact team you need to do a lot of multi-tasking & keep juggling with different hats.
Vivinkaa's Most Popular Products
Indigo Tassel Leatherette Sling Bag
This beautiful sling bag made of leatherette and cotton has 2 pockets. It has a printed pattern, has 2 pockets and its dimensions are 10 inches x 1 inch x 10.5 inches (LxWxH). It features a zip closure and is available for ₹ 500.00 here.
Lazy Cat Multicoloured Canvas Tote
This unique canvas tote bag featuring a lazy cat lounging print is just the thing you need to complete your grocery shopping. It has 2 handles and a single pocket and can be wiped clean with a dry cloth to remove the dust. Its dimensions are 15 inches x 3 inches x 17 inches (LxWxH) and is available for ₹ 398.00 here.
Leatherette Sand Angle Handbag
This eye-catching handbag is made of high-quality leatherette and canvas and is ideal to carry your things to the office. It has 2 pockets, a zipper closure and its dimensions are 13 inches x 4 inches x 11 inches (LxWxH). It is priced at ₹ 698.00 and you can get it here.
Where Can You Find Them?
Interview with Vinod Naik (Contd.)
- Q. How do you ensure quality?
- We have an in-house team which ensures that each product goes through a stringent quality check. Also, we have been working with the same set of craftsmen for a long period now ensuring consistent quality products.
- Q. What sets Vivinkaa apart from other brands?
- Everything that we make is completely exclusive. We create our own prints & the products are manufactured by local craftsmen using natural & hand dyed fabrics. All our product are 100% cruelty-free & animal-friendly vegan leather. So, when you buy a Vivinkaa product you are buying a truly 100% Indian brand created by our skilled local artisans and also empowering the indigenous small-scale industry.
- Q. What are your interests and how did you spend time during the lockdown?
- I am an adventure loving person but during the lockdown there was no option to explore out. So, I made good use of my time reading a lot of interesting articles on brand-building & also picked up certain interesting online courses on Digital Marketing.
What's Next for Vivinkaa?
We would be focussing on building our own D2C platform. Also, there is a lot of interest from large format stores & MBOs. We would be exploring that opportunity. We want to be known as a pan-India omni-channel brand. Also, by the end of next year we would be looking at a cross-border launch for the brand. We want to make it the next big D2C brand in the fashion accessories space.
Vivinkaa's New Product Launches
Vivinkaa Faux Leather Laptop Messenger Bag for Men and Women
This unisex laptop messenger bag in coffee and tan colour has a textured pattern and is made of high quality vegan leather. It has 2 compartments and can store your laptop comfortably. Its dimensions are 16 inches x 2.5 inches x 12 inches (LxWxH) and can be wiped clean with a dry cloth to remove dust. It is priced at ₹ 799.00 and is available here.
Vivinkaa Ethnic Faux Leather Mini Tote Bag
If you are looking for a high-quality, brightly coloured mini tote bag you will surely like this one. Featuring a rich ethnic floral design on a yellow base this hand bag is made of vegan leather and has 2 pockets and a zipper closure. Its weighs only 400 gm and can be wiped clean using a dry cloth to remove the dust. You can get it for ₹ 599.00 here.
Leatherette Embroidered Aqua Sling Bags - Pack of 2
This is an exquisite leatherette embroidered sling back in aqua colour featuring a magnet button closure. Its dimensions are 14 inches x 4.5 inches x 11 inches (LxWxH) and is the perfect handbag for all the stylish women out there. Priced at ₹ 500.00 you can get it here.
Any Recommendations for Our Readers Trying Vivinkaa for the First Time?
- Q. Which products would you recommend to someone trying shopping from Vivinkaa for the first time?
- It would be difficult to suggest any one product as we love all our products. But being a first timer, I would strongly recommend trying our Indian ethnic printed sling bags & handbags made of natural cotton fabric & vegan leather.
- Q. Please can you give some tips to people looking to buy vegan fashion, what should they be aware of and look for?
- Vegan bags are made with absolutely no animal products. This means every part of them; from the covering material on the outside, to the very glue that is used is cruelty-free. Vegan handbags can be made from a whole variety of materials. The most common is faux leather. My only advice is to always check the labels of items to make sure.
Promote Indian Fashion Accessories Brands which Adopt Cruelty-Free and Environment Friendly Processes
When you are looking for fashion accessories like handbags, rather than going for reputed brands or substandard Chinese products, it is better to encourage Indian brands which have cruelty-free and environment friendly manufacturing processes. This will not only ensure that you are contributing for the betterment of animals and the environment, but as an Indian you also support the livelihood of numerous skilled craftsmen and artisans who find it difficult to make a living otherwise. Vivinkaa is one such brand that you should definitely check out. Share your experiences of buying Vivinkaa products with us.