Vinokilo RE / UP cycled Collection – providing alternatives for your daily life

written by Doyel Joshi, Melody Flumendorf
photography Alina Betge

How did you come up with this idea?

Wait a minute, I hear you say, isn’t Vinokilo based in Europe? So why do we venture to India?

Our founder Robin Balser and his brother Neil are of German and Indian descent. They grew up inspired by Indias enterprising nature, diversity, and fascinating history.

During their family visits, they were inspired and influenced by visits to markets, clothing places and productions bringing home bags of gifts for friends, and building relationships with local vendors and productions.

So when Neil visited Mumbai this year, they continued the conversation to source sustainable everyday materials, clothing, accessories, and merchandise and offer them on Vinokilo. Neil got his good friend Pranchal Joshi on board. She grew up working with local artisans and vendors, has her own brand that has collaborated with Vinokilo, and found the idea of building an ethical production process and supporting local artisans in India equally exciting. Done deal.


Her sister Doyel Joshi completes the team. As a designer having studied at New York’s Parsons university and now working in the sustainable and upcycling space she has collaborated with Indian mills and factories before to create innovative production methods for fabrics like hemp, Tencel, and lyocell. She believes that the way to the future is by gathering and studying the past and innovating for more sustainable solutions. It was all very organic.

Vinokilo offers second-hand clothes but there are of course products outside of the realm of second-hand clothes. This is one focus whilst another is finding alternatives sustainable ways of producing. Thereby enlarging what a brand like Vinokilo and what we stand for can offer. With beautiful day-to-day objects and alternatives, it’s another way to make sustainable living a bit easier for you.


So far, Vinokilo has managed to reduce: 

  • 5,550 tons of CO2 eq. emissions
    That’s equal to 45,3 million kilometres driven in a passenger car, which is 1130 times around the equator.
  • 10,4 million m 3 world eq. water equals 86,7 million 10-minute showers
  • 101,8 million Megajoules of energy, equal to the annual energy consumption of 7,645 average homes in the EU, enough for approximately 17,500 people


Why did you choose India?

Having home and connections throughout India allows us to be in touch with many vendors and also meet many skilled artisans – India is famous for its talented craftsmen. Together with textile and handloom pioneers, young planet-conscious entrepreneurs who revisit or work on new materials, and generations of local family productions, craftsmen, and clothmakers we are working on innovative production techniques – for the sustainable fabrics and materials we are using.

As we know, the fashion industry’s supply chain accounts for 4% of global emissions; so it’s obvious to change that.

Gathering a diverse range and wealth of knowledge we bring the know-how we need to implement these new methods.

We there also do our bit to break the lack of upward mobility and allow these talented artisans to grow their market and businesses.


Where in India?

Our vendors come from different parts of the country. Pranchal, having traveled throughout India to visit local artisan families and working with an organization that supports these she knows production places throughout the country.

In Mumbai, for example, we have Karishma Kapur, who runs a zero-waste production house called the ODD factory.

Over in Chennai, Puja Broker has created the first Made in India natural yoga mat (scroll down for more details, it’s quite an achievement!

In Deoria/Uttar, we work with the talented Pradesh Pooja Shahi, a Jagriti Enterprise center graduate working with women of agriculture households.


In how far is it fair and sustainable?

As a brand, we love a bit of fun, but when it comes to the backbone of our business, we are very serious. Our process promotes handicraft, minimizes waste, and benefits both the vendors and our customers.

We have carefully studied the production process of our vendors and work closely with them in collaboration. After all, great ideas are not worth much if you don’t listen to those who have to implement them! We share ideas to optimize resources and pay accordingly.  In India, people are often still paid a minimum wage that only covers around 42% of their actual living costs. We are in conversation with the families and build relationships to understand where we can work together. That means for example to cover food, housing, health care, education, and other living costs, with the possibility to grow their business.

Then there are the products themselves. We don’t want to create an item that is not just another thing lying around your home or is not durable if you use it a lot. Our goal is to create beautiful, timeless pieces out of natural materials – items one can use for years to come.


Meet the project team



What do we want to improve in the future?

Let’s get real: Achieving carbon-neutral transportation and shipping isn’t easy. We want to make the rest of our production process as environmentally friendly as possible. Just like you create change by choosing second-hand over fast fashion, we want to change the industries’ production and shipping process. We know that is a work in progress, and we don’t shy away from it. Here is how.


Meet the producers

Let’s have a look at the people behind the scenes who create our fantastic new products!


The yoga mats

Puja Broker didn’t learn yoga as a child; it was only when her family decided to take a yoga class together that she understood its powers.

As a certified yoga teacher, Puja struggled to find a good mat. She asked popular yoga schools and teachers what kind of mat they were looking for.

“Apart from performance, it was the idea of keeping it all-natural. It was then when I realized that the mats we use are made of PVC, the most damaging plastic of all – not the material you want to practice yoga on!” she says.

Puja continued to teach whilst working as a consultant at a yoga studio and an IT company – all whilst trying to get her yoga mat out there.

The first sample was a mat-over made of jute and natural rubber. It proved to be a great alternative to the slippery yoga mat made of PVC.

Juru is a blend of the words jute and natural rubber, both natural Indian resources. “We were pleased with the mat-over’s performance and started using it in our classes. Our students loved them and asked where they could buy the mats. And that’s how it all started!”


The factory

Karishma Kapur’s ODD factory is nine years old. The team of 50 craftsmen is managed by 3 women and is super passionate about zero waste: they go the extra mile to apply sustainability principles in their work. A high ethical standard is crucial for them. They treat their employees well and believe that “If we do the right thing, everyone wins. The result is better quality, better commitment, and a common love for what we do. We reward and recognize great work regularly and respect the diversity of our people. All that means we don’t penny pinch on our labor costs, and we may charge slightly more than your average wholesale unit for that reason.”


The game-changing project

Pooja Sahi started Deoria Design as a passion project and partnered with Priti Jantre, a Mumbai-based marketer, through the network of Jagriti.

Her handicraft business makes underprivileged women of Deoria economically independent. More than that, they earn from what they are passionate about. The company also trains local women to craft and promote their unique designs online.


If you are now curious to see our brand new Indian collection and get your hands on these products, just follow this link:

Read more


How to shop consciously – and enjoy it

So can shopping still be fun while being conscious about the environmental impact? We say yes! Buying a great pair of shoes or slipping into a well-designed leather jacket is one of life's little pleasures - and there's no need to give that up. Here are two tips on how in this blog post.

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