Deepak Aggarwal, Managing Director & CEO, KAZO

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Deepak Aggarwal-Kazo

Deepak Aggarwal, Managing Director & CEO, KAZO

Sustainable fashion is creation of clothing that is produced ethically and sustainably. All of this seems straightforward, yet sustainability entails higher overhead costs, which lower profit margins. Consumers must be willing to pay extra to support the change or, at the absolute least, stop patronising companies that do not care about the environment if they want the industry to become sustainable. But what does the foreseeable future hold for ‘nature positive’ fashion? – Deepak Aggarwal, Managing Director & CEO, KAZO talks about incorporating sustainability and promoting the same idea, which will only continue to grow for the better in the following interview with ET Edge Insights.

How did you come up with the name of your company?

KAZO has always aimed to present itself as an international brand, and its name as well as logo support the same idea. Our vision is to look clean and contemporary; hence our logo resonates with this aim. We have visualized creating a brand that resonates with the European markets, and our logo stands with that idea. Since our brand offers top-notch quality and utterly fashionable items, our logo and name ensure to be upscaled and high-end.

What is something you wish people knew about fashion being affordable?

In a world where everything trends and turns out to be fashionable, fast fashion is arguably the biggest culprit affecting the environment and how fashion production functions. Due to the trend-driven culture, overconsumption has motivated most brands to sell cheap products without drilling holes into consumer’s pockets. However, KAZO has never stood with the ideology of making fashion affordable; it believes in creating fashion that doesn’t negatively impact the environment and allows women to shop guilt-free to channel their most confident versions. However, as the world is shifting towards a more conscious side, the youth is also opting for sustainability, homegrown, and eco-friendly clothing brands that are trending sooner than expected. KAZO is one of the few homegrown brands that holistically focus on sustainability.

What is the most challenging thing about running a sustainable business?

Running a sustainable business is quite rewarding, but many challenges tag along with it. One of the most common issues would be managing the expensive fabrics and the lack of technical advantages that are unable to support sustainable practices. The other difficulties faced are production opportunities and slow adaption in the market. Even though sustainability is the new trend, it’s tricky to build authenticity within the market.

How do you ensure integration of sustainability into KAZO’s supply chains?

BL International, the backbone of KAZO as a sister brand, supervises the manufacturing of 80% of our SS Collection and 60% of our AW collection. We at KAZO also proactively look for industry standards to report against or get certified to ensure constant learning and improvement in terms of our sustainability performance.

Recently KAZO got certified in 2022 with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) and GRS (Global Recycle Standards) by the globally known certification body Control Union. Besides this, our sourcing team procures sustainable fabrics, Oeko-tex-certified trims, FSC-certified corrugated boxes, and PVC-free packaging.

What is your company’s mission for sustainability and what is your vision to further the social motive?

Over the time with more growth, we changed our course of action for a better tomorrow and a healthier fashion world. We believe in evolving the tomorrow of the apparel industry; hence, we are also registered on the SLCP, the industry leader in social compliance. We use these platforms to guide us toward continuous improvement because we believe sustainability is not a destination but a journey. One of our factories is also soon going to be certified with SEDEX.

Fashion is not just about living a stylish life, but it tags along the responsibility of leading an environmentally friendly and ethical lifestyle that only helps in averting the climate crisis caused by the fashion industry. For revolutionizing the new patterns, 40% of domestic wastewater is treated and reused on-site in one of our factories while we are also ZDHC compliant.

Our factories have been reporting sustainability performance on the HIGG platform since 2017. The HIGG Index, launched in 2012, is an apparel and footwear industry self-assessment standard for assessing environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain. It is one of the leading platforms for apparel sustainability, and it provides a common platform for brands and suppliers to report, compare, and learn from.

For circular economy and landfill diversion, KAZO has recently acknowledged the global challenge of pre-consumer textile waste management in the production facilities by starting fabric waste sorting based on fabric type and colour, which involves the procedure of aligning with the good recycler to avoid landfill.

Kindly let us know about the sustainable practices that you follow for your stores.

• All our stores are designed with circular design principles and modular fittings, which allow us to retain and reuse them.
• Interior finishing like paints used are low in VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) for better indoor air quality.
• We are integrating biophilic design into major stores to make shopping a pleasant experience and create awareness around air quality.
• We will soon roll out paperless billing from 2024 and move completely to digital receipts
• We are also planning to start a BYOB initiative, which means a ‘Bring Your Own Bag’ campaign with small discounts to customers to incentivize and create awareness around waste reduction.

Other than your own, which sustainable fashion brands do you like?

We at KAZO stand for every brand that supports the idea of sustainability. However, we prefer Vivienne Westwood’s sustainable collections as she used organic cotton, recycled polyester, recycled nylon, and responsibly sourced viscose as natural fabrics. To bring luxury and sustainability together, she introduced the Fall 2022 collection, which claimed to reduce 90% of the negative impact on the environment through its collection.

How are you ensuring to make the brand not only environmentally sustainable but also socially accountable?

We at KAZO believe not only in environmental sustainability but also in social motive. Hence, for the well-being of the workforce, KAZO production provides monthly mandatory training on subjects like ‘Anti-Abuse and Sexual Harassment,’ ‘Grievance Handling procedure,’ and topics based on ‘Health and Safety.’ We have been spreading adequate awareness among the workforce on the POSH 2013 act.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members