An exclusive interview with Kapil Bhatia, CEO & Founder of UNIREC, manufacturer of shirts, blazers, and trousers from recycled polyester fabrics
In the world of sustainable fashion, innovation and conscious consumerism are key drivers of change. One individual who has made significant strides in this industry is Mr. Kapil Bhatia, the CEO and Founder of UNIREC.
UNIREC is a pioneering manufacturer of shirts, blazers, and trousers made from recycled polyester fabrics. With a commitment to both style and sustainability, Mr. Bhatia’s company has garnered attention and accolades for its innovative approach to eco-friendly fashion.
In this exclusive interview, we have the privilege of delving into Mr. Bhatia’s journey, insights, and vision for a more sustainable future in the fashion industry.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting UNIREC and your journey as the founder and CEO of a sustainable clothing brand?
Kapil Bhatia: Customer is King is the old adage and the reason for the germination of the seed for UNIREC. At a trade fair interaction for our garments business we received an enquiry from one of our client who was looking for sustainable options for his group of companies and more specifically for garments made from Rpet ( Recycled Polyester) as one of the elements.
When we started researching about it we realised the impact that could be made to the client and society at large and we set out in building the brand which today is UNIREC.
UNIREC is known for manufacturing garments from recycled fabrics, particularly from recycled PET bottles. Could you share with us the process of transforming PET bottles into clothing materials and how this idea came about?
Kapil Bhatia: UNIREC manufactures garments from recycled PET bottles. However , UNIREC sources the fabric from suppliers who are registered under the supply chain with a Global Certification and these fabric manufacturers in turn procure the yarn from the same supply chain and the yarn manufacturer procures the fibre and the fibre comes from a recycling facility where the PET bottles are recycled. So UNIREC in effect uses fabric to make all its garments , the core of which is from recycled PET bottles.
Sustainability is at the core of UNIREC’s mission. What specific steps and practices have you implemented within your company to ensure your operations are environmentally friendly and sustainable?
Kapil Bhatia: For starters, all our products are packaged in an eco friendly manner with no use of plastic and even our product tags are made from seed paper which you don’t need to throw but can grow into a beautiful plant. Secondly, we manufacture the goods in factories where we provide fair wages to all the workers thereby ensuring sustainability at the bottom of the pyramid of the society.
Lastly , we will be very soon working on a project where in we start giving back to the society by planting a sapling for every garment being sold on our website.
Could you highlight some of the unique challenges and opportunities you’ve encountered in the sustainable fashion industry, and how UNIREC has navigated these issues?
Consumer Education: Educating consumers about the benefits of sustainable fashion and the value of recycled materials has been a hurdle. UNIREC has invested in marketing campaigns and informative content to raise awareness.
Market Competition: The sustainable fashion industry has become increasingly competitive. UNIREC has differentiated itself through innovation, unique designs, and a commitment to transparency.
MOQ: The Minimum Order Quantity for such fabrics is often quite substantial and for a start up like ours it gets tricky at times to manage the same.
Growing Market Demand: The increasing interest in sustainable fashion among consumers, especially Gen Z, presents a significant growth opportunity. UNIREC has capitalized on this demand by aligning its brand with eco-conscious values.
Innovation: The sustainable fashion industry is ripe for innovation. UNIREC has explored creative ways to incorporate recycled materials into its designs and has leveraged technology to enhance sustainability.
Partnerships and Collaboration: Collaborations with other eco-friendly brands and organizations have allowed UNIREC to expand its reach and influence while promoting sustainability. Transparency and Trust: Consumers increasingly value transparency in the fashion supply chain.
UNIREC has built trust by being open about its production processes and sourcing, gaining a loyal customer base.
UNIREC’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond materials. Can you discuss your approach to ethical and responsible manufacturing practices, including labor conditions and fair wages?
Kapil Bhatia: We have already mentioned above that we adhere to all ethical manufacturing practices only.
How do you ensure the quality and durability of garments made from recycled fabrics, and what has been the consumer response to these products?
Kapil Bhatia: Being from this industry for the last 23 years and coming from a family which has been in the garment business for more than 60 years now , quality and durability is of paramount importance to us and the fact that we have managed to sell more than 30000 pcs in a short span of 15-16 months speaks for the consumer response for these products.
Collaboration is often key in the sustainability movement. Could you share any partnerships or initiatives UNIREC has undertaken with other organizations or brands to further your sustainability goals?
Kapil Bhatia: UNIREC believes in collective efforts. To spread awareness about sustainable clothing and fashion trends we as a brand participate in different exhibitions across India. Events like World Gift Expo, India Big 7 Expo, Lil flea, pop shops in WeWork premises, etc. are included in our routine to create brand awareness.
In terms of initiatives, we soon going to be official merchandise sponsors for IIT Bombay Fest Mood Indigo. We are constantly finding ways to normalize sustainable fashion and its usage in daily life. After all sustainable living is the future and is going to be the adopted by the population soon.
In a competitive fashion market, how does UNIREC differentiate itself and attract consumers who prioritize sustainable fashion choices?
Kapil Bhatia: UNIREC employs several strategies to differentiate itself and appeal to consumers who prioritize sustainable fashion choices in a competitive market:
Eco-Friendly Materials: UNIREC’s use of recycled materials, such as PET bottles, sets it apart. It highlights the eco-friendliness of its products, showcasing how many bottles were recycled to create each garment. This appeals to consumers who are conscious of their environmental footprint.
Innovative Design: UNIREC combines sustainability with innovative design. The brand doesn’t compromise on style or quality, ensuring that consumers can make eco-conscious choices without sacrificing fashion. Unique and appealing designs attract a broader customer base.
Collaborations: UNIREC collaborates with like-minded sustainable brands, designers, and influencers. These partnerships help expand its reach and tap into the audiences of those who share similar values.
Consumer Engagement: UNIREC actively engages with its customers through social media and events. It encourages customers to share their sustainable fashion stories and promotes a sense of community around eco-conscious choices.
Affordability: While sustainable fashion can be expensive, UNIREC strives to keep its prices competitive. This accessibility appeals to a wider range of consumers who want to make sustainable choices without breaking the bank.
Educational Content: UNIREC provides educational content on its website and social media channels. It helps consumers understand the environmental impact of their clothing choices and offers tips on sustainable living.
Circular Economy: UNIREC promotes a circular economy by encouraging customers to recycle their clothing. The brand may offer incentives, such as discounts on future purchases, for returning old UNIREC garments for recycling.
By combining transparency, innovation, affordability, and a commitment to sustainability, UNIREC effectively differentiates itself in the competitive fashion market and attracts consumers who prioritize eco-friendly fashion choices
Kapil Bhatia: UNIREC successfully sets itself apart in the fiercely competitive fashion market by blending key elements such as transparency, innovation, affordability, and an unwavering dedication to sustainability. This distinctive approach not only distinguishes the brand but also resonates with and draws in consumers who place a premium on eco-conscious fashion decisions.
What advice would you give to individuals and aspiring entrepreneurs who are passionate about sustainability and want to make a positive impact in the fashion industry?
Kapil Bhatia: For individuals and aspiring entrepreneurs passionate about sustainability and looking to make a positive impact in the fashion industry, here is some valuable advice:
Educate Yourself: Start by gaining a deep understanding of sustainability in the fashion industry. Learn about sustainable materials, ethical production practices, and the environmental and social impacts of fashion.
Identify Your Niche: Determine your specific area of focus within sustainable fashion. This could be recycling, upcycling, ethical labor practices, eco-friendly materials, or any combination thereof.
Market Research: Research your target market thoroughly. Understand what sustainable fashion means to them and what their preferences and values are. This will help you tailor your offerings to meet their needs.
Innovate and Differentiate: Seek innovative ways to stand out in the market. Whether it’s through unique designs, sustainable materials, or a novel business model, differentiation is crucial.
Start Small and Scale: Begin with a manageable scope and gradually expand as you gain experience and resources. It’s often more sustainable for a new venture to grow incrementally. Build a Strong Network: Connect with like-minded individuals, organizations, and mentors in the sustainable fashion community. Networking can provide support, guidance, and opportunities for collaboration.
Transparency and Authenticity: Be transparent about your sourcing and production processes. Authenticity is highly valued in the sustainable fashion space. Sustainable Sourcing: Ensure that your materials and supply chain align with your sustainability goals. Look for eco-friendly and ethical suppliers.
Business Sustainability: Sustainability should extend to the business itself. Consider the environmental impact of your operations, such as packaging and shipping methods.
Education and Outreach: Use your platform to educate consumers about the importance of sustainable fashion. Share information about the environmental and social consequences of fast fashion and how they can make more conscious choices.
Persistence: Building a sustainable fashion brand takes time and dedication. Be prepared for challenges and setbacks, and don’t lose sight of your long-term goals. Adapt to Feedback: Listen to feedback from customers and the community. Adapt and improve your offerings based on this input.
Advocate for Change: Consider getting involved in wider sustainability movements within the fashion industry. Advocate for policy changes and industry reforms that promote ethical and sustainable practices.
Measure Impact: Establish metrics to measure your impact on sustainability. This can include tracking the number of recycled materials used, reduction in waste, or improvements in workers’ conditions. Stay Informed: The sustainable fashion industry is dynamic and evolving.
Stay informed about new developments, trends, and technologies that can enhance your sustainability efforts. Remember that making a positive impact in the fashion industry requires dedication, resilience, and a genuine commitment to sustainability.
By staying true to your values and continuously seeking ways to improve, you can contribute to positive change in the fashion world.
As we conclude our conversation with Mr. Kapil Bhatia, it is evident that UNIREC stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration in the world of fashion. Mr. Bhatia’s dedication to sustainability, coupled with his innovative spirit, has not only transformed the way we view recycled materials but has also redefined the possibilities within the fashion industry.
His vision for a world where style and environmental responsibility coexist harmoniously serves as a testament to what can be achieved when passion and purpose intersect. UNIREC’s journey under Mr. Bhatia’s leadership serves as a shining example of how businesses can make a positive impact on our planet while offering exceptional products to consumers.
We thank Mr. Bhatia for sharing his insights and look forward to witnessing the continued success and evolution of UNIREC in the realm of sustainable fashion.
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