From a banker to a fashion designer, that wanted to challenge the deadly existing norms of the industry, Rao Shruti Rathore has come a long way. A Panchkula based designer-entrepreneur with almost 6-7 years of impressive experience in fashion, she promotes veganism and animal rights with admirable determination and conviction. “Fashion is an expression of who we are and we are nothing but love” quoted the passionate designer in her recent TEDx Talk. Let’s meet one of the first vegan fashion activists of the country and know more about her endeavours to change the way people adopt fashion and lifestyle.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to veganism?
I believe in Love and hence, It was the most basic and logical thing to do. We go to any extent to protect and care for the ones we love and I love animals. You give yourself the Healthiest lifestyle known to mankind, Amazing food without any sacrifice thanks to the vegan options growing each day, while saving Millions of Animals every year and the Planet. A Win-Win for everyone so why wouldn't we do it? It's only after I turned vegan that I found my direction as to where I wanted to settle in Fashion too. I knew launching my line and basking in the glory of a successful Label would not make me happy while the planet was being plagued with suffering. Love is the answer and there's no stopping me now.
What was it like when you first began adjusting your wardrobe to reflect your vegan ethics?
I became more vocal about what I was wearing and it gave me a new sense of confidence about my style because It was finally completely reflecting as to who I feel I am deep inside. I'm stylish just like everyone else and I love expressing that through my clothes too, but wearing dead animals on my body was giving a very different message from what I wanted to say through my clothes. So when I noticed that, I changed it and explained why. I've seen some very fashionable people having that Aha moment after talking to me and It's amazing to see them never wanting to buy animal products for fashion now.
Describe yourself in three words.
Passionate, sensitive and Empowering. Also, funny especially when I'm not wanting to be.
Can you tell us about Fashion 2.0 and #WearWhoYouAre?
I introduced Fashion 2.0 in my Ted talk about Vegan Fashion. Mainstream Industry runs on Animal cruelty, Environmental destruction, Human Insecurities, Exploitation and Fear. We need a new version of Fashion that removes all the bugs of the current Industry and brings back its true Meaning and Purpose. Which is Joy and Beauty. I am currently working on a Fashion 2.0 Tour with my fellow Vegan Fashion Activist and Model, Kay Lovelle (London) and Janardhan Pokala. This is an international project and will lead the way for Conscious Fashion in the future.
#WearWhoYouAre is a campaign very close to my heart. I've always felt the need to speak about the importance of #Authenticity in Fashion. Fashion is our unique expression but in today's world, it has lost its meaning altogether. We are wanting to be someone else while forgetting who we really are. This campaign works on bringing attention to this issue. It focuses on wearing our own self i.e being authentic and wearing our own skin, i.e being compassionate at the same time being comfortable in our own skin. It's going to be out soon.
In your recent TedX talk you mentioned your pet dog Valentine. How did the little guy come into your life and what do you love most about him?
Val entered my life as a gift to me by a friend and within no time became The Blessing of our lives. He found me when I was struggling to find my purpose and helped me gain absolute clarity on that. What I love the most about him has to be his ability to completely trust the ones he loves. He wouldn't complain or bark even if you forget to feed him or skip his meals and would keep waiting in good faith. ( This happened a few times because of confusion and I was moved to tears.) He also is biased to women who wear a good perfume and Men who love to wrestle. I find this very Funny!
While vegan fashion in India is continuing to catch on, it’s still maturing slowly. Where do you see vegan fashion going over the next few years?
I am very impressed and happy to see the number of Indian Vegan Fashion brands that have emerged in the Indian Fashion scene irrespective of the slower rate of awareness when compared to the same in the western side of the world. With the rise in awareness in India and with the mainstream Fashion taking steps like Ditching Fur and exotic skins, there is no stopping for Fashion Industry going Vegan in the future. I have seen some international vegan brands making their way to India already! It is my intent to normalize #Vegan Fashion in India during next year and we are working on the same. Vegan Fashion is the future.
What are some of the challenges you face when picking handbags (particularly vegan ones)?
Aesthetics. I see a massive range of practical work bags that are comfortable and practical however it would be a win-win when Vegan bags top the list of most stylish bags too. But I see it's slowly changing now.
What do you love about Broke Mate?
Your Vision and your Unapologetic Loud expression of Love for Animals. So Thank you for that and I love your Sling bags! Colourful, Youthful and purposeful.
Can you give a few pointers to our readers on how they can shop vegan clothing for winters?
Always look for tags because they will tell you if it's genuine leather, real wool and real fur.
- Faux leather is everywhere but make sure when you buy PU it's 100% synthetic because if it's just PU it might be leather with a coating of Synthetic fabric. Just look for the tag that says Faux, 100% synthetic PU or Vegan.
- For alternatives for wool, look for organic Cotton, acrylic wool (Recycled), Bamboo, Linen or Fleece fabrics rather than Real wool. These options are always available at most high street stores and online.
- Look for the Tag Faux/Vegan Fur. Say no to Uggs or any boots that have fur trimmings. Also, any leather or Fur article coming from China with no description about it being Faux or Vegan has very high chances of it being made of dog/cat leather and fur.
It will only take an extra minute to read the label. Faux Leather, Faux Fur and Cruelty-free wool options are easily available in the market! Research and Replace. You will be surprised to see how easy it is to Style Vegan.
Vegan Fashion is Hot! and Fashion that comes from a past of misery and pain is never stylish.
We believe that a woman as purposeful as Shruti is bound to revolutionize the fashion industry.
Follow her journey here: