For many entrepreneurs in the fashion business, more is more.
Not only has fashion historically run on a seasonal cycle but more items usually means more opportunities to reach more customers and more buying opportunities. But in this era of climate insecurity where the fashion industry has reached a critical point of mass consumership and disposability, a business decision shouldn't necessarily be made with economy in mind.
For one Vancouver fashion designer, the choice to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly meant completely re-launching her business and focusing on a single item that she could deliver well.
Salma Kashani started her business, Bânu Magnifique, during the pandemic when art became an outlet for her to cope with the depressing circumstances. She says she found that when she was wearing a bright and colourful outfit she felt better and wanted to spread that joy and positivity to others. She began popping up at markets and events across the Lower Mainland with a collection of wallets, earrings, scarves, bow ties and even a skirt.
But nine months ago she made the choice to recreate her brand as sustainably and eco-friendly as possible which meant retiring some of her amazing designs.
"My brand kind of evolved. I knew that I had to improve it," she says, "So I wanted to focus on more eco-friendly materials. There are a lot of things that I learned through that process. I decided to just go with one item instead of having multiple."
The piece she chose to focus on was the scarf.
Her online store re-launched this week with the new approach.
She spent months looking for the right fabric until she found chiffon made from 100 per cent recycled water bottles.
Kashani didn't design the scarves, instead, she partnered with Vancouver artists with a diverse array of styles and spotlights their work on each scarf. "The whole brand is about vibrant colours," she says. "I love colours. My place is colourful; I've been doing abstract art since I was a kid because my mom is an artist and she got me into this. I wanted to create a brand where people can carry around these joyful patterns with them to make them happy and make the people around them happy."
Not everyone is comfortable wearing a loud shirt or skirt so Kashani chose the scarf in part to act as a pop of colour in a neutral outfit. "It's easy to style," she explains, "they can wear it on their head, their neck, even around purses, there are different ways to use the scarf to add that colour."
She also felt that scarves were an accessible item to shop for online because there are no sizes and the emphasis on the art provides enough variety for people without having to introduce a bunch of different products like some fast fashion brands do. There are seven patterns including one by Kashani herself and each scarf will come with a card describing the art and the artist.
The scarf called Harmony features the art of Vancouver artist Joyce Lay Hoon Ho (a.k.a Arty Guava), with illustrated figures dancing in nature inspired by her childhood in Malaysia. Another by Nikoo Nikpeikaran is called Wild Woman and has a realistic portrait hidden in an abstract painting.
North Vancouver artist Erin Shakespeare's art is inspired by romantic energy and is expressed through brushstroke renderings of florals and birds in flight. "The artwork was the main thing," says Kashani, explaining she chose a variety of artists whose work she admired.
She hasn't ruled out introducing different sizes of scarves like squares or thicker scarves for winter but that would involve figuring out how to maintain the sustainability she has worked so hard to achieve. She will also continue to sell off her deadstock at pop-ups around Vancouver but they're no longer listed on her website and once they're gone, they're gone.
Her next pop-up is on October 16 at Made in 604 at the Pipe Shop in North Vancouver.