Satva: India’s first sustainable athleisure brand

by Anjori Grover Vasesi

20-November-2019  |  11 mins read

Satva

Built on the cornerstones of the 4Ps – People, Planet, Production and Profits, Satva is the first Indian sustainable athleisure brand tastefully designed in the US but proudly manufactured in India.

A partner of Suminter India Organics – one of the largest suppliers of certified organic raw materials worldwide, with over 50,000 farmers under their network – Satva was founded after one of its current Co-founders discovered the extent of the sustainable fashion movement in America. “A few years ago, the women’s athleisure clothing market was either filled with off-the-rack clothing or high fashion garments; sensing a gap in the market, Satva came into being,” Rina Nathani, Head of Global Retail at Satva told Apparel Resources.

It is a known fact that the organic apparel industry has been growing considerably and a noticeable shift has been witnessed within India, not just in the global fashion industry. When one talks about ‘organic’ products, people would have heard of them – they might not find them easily or they probably can’t afford them, but they would have heard of them and that’s where Satva saw its opportunity.

“We are about to witness the biggest shift in the industry. There is this customer who wants to look good, feel good and be fit and it kind of promotes the whole lifestyle and at the same time cares about the planet and concerns about using organic means, so the good thing is that India is finally moving towards the organic means,” Rina said.

Responsible Fashion

Catering to the age group from 20s to 50s, Satva is for women who enjoy adventures and who would move straight from the gym to a night out. Tapping on the millennial-mindset, who wear sustainability like a badge, the brand bridges the gap between comfortable athleisure and sustainable, responsible fashion.

“The athleisure segment itself is a flag-bearer of sustainability because the segment doesn’t require you to be a fastfashion brand. It’s all about comfort, style and effortlessness.”

Although coveted, there is often a myth attached to sustainable and organic clothing as to being expensive. This is what has thwarted the momentum of this sector since the very beginning. Aiming to peg itself as an affordable luxury brand, Satva prices its products between Rs. 1,299 for a basic tee to Rs. 3,500 for a jacket, quite affordable when you compare it with mainstream sports brands. “Satva is well received by the youngsters in India – they are all moving towards a sustainable organic life. Youngsters often are a bit price-sensitive, but still, they are buying the product for its core motto,” Rina stated. Citing success of the same, Satva witnessed a 30 per cent increase in the athleisure trend and predicts its stance as a good place to be in the current market scenario.

“These are exciting times in terms of both sustainability and athleisure. People often ask how these two things fit together – to which I say, they overlap each other and there is a demand for both. We cater to that intersection and that intersection is getting bigger by the day,” Rina said.

The brand tilts towards classics rather than fashion by offering an interesting mix of athletic-inspired bralettes, leggings, tanks, tees, shorts, jackets and sweaters that are designed to last longer in terms of trends and variations. The brand fuses international styling with sociallyconscious clothing while giving back to the communities it sources from.

Designing and Manufacturing

Retailing in India as well as internationally, Satva strives to remain atop its designing game by keeping in mind the difference in the lifestyle and demographics of its varied consumers.

Its designers develop a design sheet for each country, and focus largely on key issues such as fabric quality, the fits, sewing of the material and the right mix of GSM to give one’s body the right support. “We spend a lot of time on the tech packs for our key perspectives rather than messing with the actual composition of the fabric because then it won’t be 100 per cent certified organic. Because of the organic aspect involved in our clothing, we prefer moisture absorption properties, but we consciously avoid any fabric compositions with chemicals and harmful dyes,” Rina concluded.

“Sustainability is a very niche segment in India, it’s about 20-30 per cent and there is a huge scope but it’s something that will take some time and resources to reach there. Companies like ours and Puma, Nike and Jockey are in the same space; we are all helping to achieve that level of sustainability in the industry.”

Satva eliminates the use of chemicals and dyes from its manufacturing process. Right from the materials to the colours and the dyes – everything is plant-based. The brand also practises sustainable farming in order to have better control over its supply chain. Rina quotes this as one of the reasons why the brand is able to offer high-quality cotton which is 100 per cent organic.

“Satva uses certified organic cotton grown by Suminter India Organics; many people will tell you that the cotton they use is natural but to verify that, one has to go through the entire process, making sure that it is certified and made of an ecofriendly product,” Rina said.

Rina Nathani
Rina Nathani, Head of Global Retail at Satva

The brand boasts of an extremely efficient manufacturing, production and distribution channel based out of North India, along with a prominent supply chain. Majority of its products are exported from Delhi.

“Our cotton comes from our farmers. There are vendors who help us with colour dyeing and beating of the fabric. All our vendors are from North India because this helps us in the logistic part,” Rina averred.

Moreover, she added, “We are part of many social initiatives as a company but for Satva particularly, a per cent of every sale goes towards the betterment of the lives of our farmers; so that’s the conscious thing that we have done in terms of giving back to where we sourced from.”

Future Prospects

For Satva, it is more about sticking to the core and what works for them as a brand. With a range of kidswear in the US market, and an upcoming men’s range, the label is all set to cater to a more diverse segment.

“We believe in organic cotton, we have a very prominent supply chain and we have finally found the pace. It will be about fashion basics made out of sustainable organic materials,” Rina said, adding, “We are moving forward to add a core line of products in a specific colour scheme with other seasonal aspects. We already have a range of kidswear in our US market; in the kidswear section, there is huge price-consciousness, so while they want organic cotton, they get concerned about the prices. There is a gap in terms of fashionable organics for men and women both and that’s what we want to work on.”

Currently available for purchase online in India, USA, Canada and Dubai, as well as some selective gyms, Satva also retails via occasional pop-ups.

Retail Scenario

“Our main motto is to cater to the customer’s needs and retail is a whole other segment – people are closing their stores because of the overhead pressure of not being able to meet ends and then pay the rent. Everybody faces that challenge and if you are not going to worry about organic or nonorganic brands’ market price, then it will largely affect any business,” asserted Rina, further adding, “There is no way we can compete with a manufacturer who is not going organic because the entire certification process of organic products attracts more overheads. When I can only source from a certain area, they can go above and beyond with their production and distribution. It is imperative that to achieve that premium from organic means, I won’t be able to compete and the market has to accept that. The good news is that the differences would not be that high; it’s just like organic food, when it started out, it was almost 50 per cent costlier, now we are at the same price range – the more the affordability, the better it is.”

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