MALAI

Co-founders: Zuzana Gombosova and Susmith CS

What: Malai specialises in creating and developing bio-based composite that looks and feels like leather. The final product resembles the aesthetic and functionality of leather.

Why did you feel the need to start a vegan brand?

We began with an idea to explore the potential of one material — Bacterial Cellulose — that happens to be vegan. Only over time, we decided to keep the vegan credentials of our materials.

What were the challenges you faced?

Firstly, we have never run a business before. Secondly, we were introducing a completely new material to the world, a lot of education and explanation had to be given from our side to familiarise the public with what we do. And then, of course, the funding is a never-ending search.

What’s the difference between the buying patterns of men today versus five years ago?

We observed that millennial men prefer to buy products that they know more about in terms of origin, whether they were ethically made and what the brand stands for. In the older generation, not much has changed in terms of consumer behaviour

ARTURE



Founder: Shivani Patel

What: Arture is a sustainable and vegan accessories brand specialising in wallets and accessories that use cork fabric as an alternative to the leather.

Why did you feel the need to start a vegan brand?

I wanted to start a sustainable brand, and that meant it needed to be cruelty free but also environmentally conscious.

What were the challenges you faced?

Getting consumers to understand what cork is, how it’s different. Since it’s a material that people haven’t been exposed to in this form, they often assume it may be hard or brittle, whereas it’s very soft.

What’s the difference between the buying patterns of men today versus five years ago?

In the past, we often saw women buy men’s wallets as gifts to men. However, now we see a larger number of men buying the wallets themselves. They’re also asking more questions and trying to understand the products better.

 

MONK STORY



Co-founders: Abhinandan Jain and Nilesh Jain

What: Monk Story makes shoes from synthetic leather that retain their form and are usually very durable.

Why did you feel the need to start a vegan brand?

In a world full of cruelty and a nation of not-so-fashionable men, we started to think about starting a vegan footwear brand. While researching, we figured out there are no good vegan footwear brands across the nation. During the research, we saw two gaps in the market, the first being the lack of a stylish vegan market and the second being no affordable designer footwear brand. So we just took the step to make the world a stylish place.

What were the challenges you faced?

Vegan fabrics were a major challenge. Three years ago, leather alternatives were not durable. But not all. Secondly, making the audience believe that vegan leather is durable and stylish was a major task. Earlier, vegan brands always positioned themselves as an alternative to leather. But vegan products are not an alternative. They should be the first choice.

What’s the difference between the buying patterns of men today versus five years ago?

Five years back, men didn’t have many options. In the past two to three years, we have seen that men are excited to try unique products. Instead of getting one shoe at a higher price and running those shoes for years and years, men now prefer having four to five shoes for different outfits and different occasions.

 

AULIVE

Co-founders: Wamika Shekhawat & Yashraj V. Rathor

What: Every Aulive product is made from superior vegan leather. In their 2019 collection, they introduced bags made with pineapple leaf fibres. Why did you feel the need to start a vegan brand? I came across a YouTube video showing animals being skinned alive for their fur. It was enough to give up leather and fur in fashion. However, I’ve always loved how leather looks and the elegance that comes with leather accessories. In 2016, I got the idea to start my own brand, and I began looking for quality alternatives. Our Italian artificial leather is one of the closest alternatives in terms of quality and feel.

What were the challenges you faced?

I wouldn’t call it a challenge, but an integral part of the movement of ethical and fair brands is creating awareness. Consumers are not aware of quality alternatives in the market. It’s also a matter of building trust since plant-based leather alternatives are a new entry.

What’s the difference between the buying patterns of men today versus five years ago?

Most men have begun questioning brands on their ethical practices. Lately, we have been coming across a lot of well-researched men who want to purchase products that have a genuine ethical interest in making a change. There is a positive shift towards small homegrown brands. Men desire quality and they would rather buy only one thing, but that one thing should be worth the quality and price.

A BIG INDIAN STORY

Founder: Anuradha Alurkar

What: A Big Indian Story is the first Indian brand to experiment with pineapple fabric, Pinatex, and believes in preserving the rich heritage of India.

Why did you feel the need to start a vegan brand?

Over one billion animals are killed every year for leather. There is a need for creating cruelty-free, sustainable alternatives to leather. Consumers are increasingly making conscious choices. The vegan movement is growing and we wanted to be the first movers in this space.

What were the challenges you faced?

We faced challenges relating to import duties and customs processes. We were the first Indian brand to import Pinatex. The customs team held it up for days and they cut up a huge piece of it for so-called lab testing, although it came with lab test papers and all adequate documents.

What’s the difference between the buying patterns of men today versus five years ago?

Today, men are far more aware of fashion trends and conscious about the brands they choose, and going vegan is picking up. Also, there are more men shopping online and are open to trying out new brands.

 

MONDARRO

Co-founders: Dhruv Sanghvi and Jaiman Khatri

What: Sauvait offers cruelty-free and handcrafted footwear with customisation as an added service.

Why did you feel the need to start a vegan brand?

I started out with the sole intention of converting users of leather products to cruelty-free material. Our brand redefines luxury by using sustainable materials like hemp, vegan leather, and coconut leather, and recycled polyester.

What were the challenges you faced?

We faced a lot of challenges in finding the right manufacturers and sourcing premium vegan leather. Another challenge was dealing with people who had and still have the impression of faux-leather being of bad quality and not durable, which isn’t true.

What’s the difference between the buying patterns of men today versus five years ago?

The new wave of retail for men is all about creating neurologically connecting experiences with customers, personalisation, easy accessibility of the product at your doorstep. I feel men are embracing individuality more, which is why we see them experimenting nowadays, and not sticking to the mainstream footwear designs.