Vibhuti Vazirani was determined to use natural fibres for her label Zavi. Organic cotton, bamboo and hemp fitted the bill. But she went a step further than most environmentally-conscious designers when she chose Peace silk.
Also known as Ahimsa (literally, “non-violent”) silk, it’s made from abandoned cocoons, rather than the traditional process which involves boiling the silk worms alive.
The cruelty-free online label launched in late 2019 has rapidly captured international attention. “Over the past two months we’ve had more than 35,000 unique hits,” says Vibhuti.
No doubt many have come from Millennials, those young conscious consumers who are keenly aware the fashion industry needs to clean up its environmental act. At 26, Vibhuti Vazirani belongs to that generation. And Zavi – “a twist on my surname” – certainly caters to it.
Only non-toxic dyes that meet Global Organic Textile Standards are used for Zavi’s fabrics, even trims and fastenings are tested for compliance, and all packaging is made from PVC-free recycled materials.
Then there’s the fresh, sleek appeal of the collections for both sexes. “I design them and work with a small production team including an assistant designer,” explains Vibhuti.
The results are beguiling. Casual, business and activewear, plus some elegant cocktail numbers create versatile transeasonal wardrobes featuring clean lines, subtle details and a palette of flattering solid colours. These are not throw-away clothes, but enduring, affordable staples. Achieving all that hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been a real journey,” says Vibhuti. “Our small quantities have been a headache to suppliers and manufacturers – most deal with big orders so they’re not exactly incentivised – but the world must become more sustainable. It has to. Our planet is in chaos.”
The path to fashion hasn’t been direct for Zavi’s Mumbai-based founder and creative director. In 2011, she enrolled for a degree in architecture at Parsons School of Design, New York, but soon withdrew. “I was only 17 and such a big commitment proved too daunting,” confesses Vibhuti.
In 2014 she graduated with a BA in Business Economics from Britain’s Exeter University, then took a certificate course in biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Those qualifications served her well when she was appointed Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility at her parents’ company, Transasia Bio-Medicals, in 2015. She held the post for almost four and a half years. “It was a role I was naturally driven to,” she reflects.
It also led to Zavi. “While I’m passionate about design, I’ve never really been influenced by fashion – not even as a shopper – but realised social responsibility should be a vital part of it.”
Her parents, Suresh and Mala, have been powerful role models. ”My father has dedicated his life to realising his values and my mother has worked alongside him for 34 years,” says Vibhuti, youngest of the couple’s three children.
Her pride is justified. In addition to his medical diagnostics company, Suresh Vazirani is president of Initiatives of Change, the global organisation devoted to building trust across the world’s divides of culture, nationality and belief.
“I was raised to do no wrong,” says Vibhuti Vazirani.
Story by Zelda Cawthorne
Fashion Exposed Now
Discover the latest collections from Zavi on display at Fashion Exposed, Australia’s only dedicated womenswear buying event. Registration is free and includes access local and international labels, seminars and round table sessions to help build your business.
Sunday 2 – Monday 3 February 2020
Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne