Anjelika Krishna’s Organic Clothing Line, a.d.o, Marries Style and Sustainability
Fashion is a major environmental threat. According to several media outlets, the garment sector uses more water than any other industry beside agriculture.
It is also poisonous. In the United States alone, $2 billion in chemicals are sprayed on cotton crops every year.
To make matters worse, nearly 20 percent of industrial pollution comes from textile dying and treatment.
But there is hope. In the past decade, certain designers in the industry have made concerted efforts to produce eco-conscious designs. Take Jersey City resident Anjelika Krishna, who runs a.d.o (anjelika dreams organic), an eco-friendly clothing line based in New York City.
Krishna took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss the challenges of running an ethically minded business, her company’s participation in an eco-conscious fashion show this weekend – Sunday is Earth Day – and the importance of not sacrificing style for sustainability.
Jersey City Independent: Hi Anjelika. Tell us a little about yourself.
Anjelika Krishna: I am the owner and designer of a.d.o (anjelika dreams organic). I manage day-to-day operations while my husband handles the finances. After receiving a merit scholarship, I moved to the United States from India to attend the School of Art Institute of Chicago. Upon graduation, I moved to New York City to work for some top names in design.
Visiting factories in Asia while working for the companies opened my eyes to the trauma faced by the workers while making orders of 100,000 units or more. That really impacted me. I always knew that if and when I started my own clothing line, it had to be ethically produced.
On one of my trips back to India, I discovered the Indian tradition of herb dye (Ayur-vastra), whereby various herbs and plants are used to dye the fabric and there is no pollution from chemical waste. I wanted to integrate my culture with my passion for western designs. I worked on this over a year and in October of 2008, my dream became reality and a.d.o was launched.
a.d.o is a ready-to-wear eco-clothing line based in New York City. The a.d.o design philosophy integrates modern, fluid and feminine details while being ecologically conscious. Every style is distinguished by its natural buttery color palettes and organic trims in modern and confident silhouettes. The a.d.o woman is one with her community, active, and wants the very best for her family, her surroundings, the body and the soul. She believes in comfort without compromising style and attitude.
JCI: What is ready-to-wear eco-clothing, and why is it important?
AK: Eco-clothing is the future of fashion. To me eco-fashion means sustainability. While being economically viable to mills and sample rooms we work with, we are supporting ethical and holistic practices within the work place. Eco also means to make sure the waste generated by the production process is minimal. It is often easy to ignore where your clothing or other household items comes from. If we take time and learn the process, one will soon realize it’s not an option but a necessity.
JCI: How do you create eco-friendly designs without compromising style?
AK: It’s a tough one. The challenge lies in finding the right fabric that does not compromise ethics. I travel to India once a year to find innovative suppliers that believe in same ethics.
JCI: What are some of the other challenges eco-friendly designers face in the studio, showroom, and marketplace?
AK: Any supplier I work with, I visit their facility for inspection. Working in this industry for almost a decade has motivated me to take that extra step and make sure that worker rights are well preserved. All a.d.o fabrics are certified organic. I have refused to work with mills that haven’t met with a.d.o’s philosophy and standards. Also one of our challenges is to educate conventional storeowners and consumers that organic fashion is like any other fashion but with consciousness. Most often Eco-clothing is associated with hippie clothing but we are trying to change people’s perspective. It is an achievable challenge.
JCI: H&M is getting into the eco-friendly market, as are other major clothing manufacturers. What is your idea of success? Do you want a.d.o. to be carried nationally or do you prefer a more niche market?
AK: We are carried in select boutiques nationwide. My idea of success would be to create an awareness among consumer about the environmental impact of everyday decisions they make such as buying clothes. I want people to realize it’s not just the hippies wearing organic clothing but it’s because we believe in protecting the environment against chemical damages.
JCI: Tell me about a.d.o’s participation in T.H.R.E.A.D.S., an eco-fashion show at the Javits Center on Saturday, April 21.
AK: Eco-fashion highlights the innovation in sustainable design. The show will demonstrate that eco-fashion is like any other fashion, but ethical. It’s important to educate the mass public about the various options of low-impact clothing.
JCI: When did a.d.o get invited to T.H.R.E.A.D.S.? What do you intend to show? What was your inspiration for your Fall line?
AK: We were invited to take part about a month back. We are showing our Spring/Summer 2012 collection which is available online and in stores now. We will also have our Fall line back stage for preview. The inspiration comes from post-World War II when women took on a more prominent role in the world whether it meant working in the factories or just getting work done. We have used organic baby corduroy, prints in organic cotton fabric and jerseys.
T.H.R.E.A.D.S. attracts a large audience. More people will come to know about the brand and eco-fashion in general.
JCI: Do you identify as a fashion designer, environmentalist or artist?
AK: All of the above. I am an environmentalist at heart and believe in a greener America. My passion in arts started with paintings and making costumes for school plays in school in New Delhi, India. Very early in my life, I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer with a purpose.
JCI: How did you get involved in the fashion game?
AK: I have been working in New York for over a decade now. It is my passion – my calling, if you will.
JCI: How have you changed as a designer over the years?
AK: I have been working for over a decade now. I have become smarter in designing. I think about the end consumer before I start the new season. For example, for Spring/Summer, I thought of the a.d.o woman vacationing with her family, picnicking in the park or riding her bike. I designed these styles around those activities with comfort and style in mind.
JCI: You were born in New Delhi. What brought you to Jersey City?
AK: Work. I moved to New York City to work in fashion – after all it’s the place to be for fashion. I chose to live in Jersey City because there is a sense of community here. It has a small-town feel without the hustle and bustle of a big city.
JCI: What does living in Jersey City mean to you as a fashion designer?
AK: In Jersey City, you are surrounded by artist and creative types. It’s a great environment to be creative. Organizations such as _gaia support and mentor women artists like myself.
JCI: Who can go to T.H.R.E.A.D.S.?
AK: Everyone and anyone who is interested in learning more about ethical clothing and accessories. You can buy online or at the door.
JCI: Any final thoughts?
AK: We are excited to make our contribution to the environmental and fair-trade dialogue while bringing stylish clothing to the marketplace.
Day passes start at $10 ($15 at the door) with discounts for senior citizens and students.
Photos courtesy of Anjelika Krishna