Vanita: Founder of LaBante London

Introducing Vanita, who established her ethical brand LaBante London in 2009. Vanita’s ethos for the brand is simple: ‘Fashion With Respect.’ 

As well as being ethical LaBante bags are super stylish & versatile in both look & functionality. Vanita is on a mission to take over the world with her brand LaBante & revolutionise the way people shop and to be a ‘one stop shopping destination’ for ethical fashion. I believe Vanita will achieve this too!  with all of Vanita’s passion & stunning designs this is definitely a space to watch!

Sustainability is at the heart of your brand & you only use recycled materials when making your bags. Can you elaborate on that? 

I think time is of the essence and that our planet needs help urgently; therefore I am really passionate about using materials that do not damage our planet further. This implies salvaging  recycled plastic bottles from landfills and spinning them into a yarn so that we can use this beautiful fabric as the lining in all our bags. We also have pledged to be PVC free as this is a material that damages the planet and the eco-system we cannot really claim to protect the animals and damage the planet instead so we do not touch this material. It is relatively cheap and loads of Vegan companies use it but not us and this does mean compromising on profitability keeping the welfare of the planet in the forefront of our minds –  but that to us is a reasonable trade off.

What materials do you use & why these particular materials? 

We use Blue Star Premium vegan leather that is made from recycled fabrics as a type of PU, we also use Vegetable leather and are releasing our Apple Leather collection this July 2020. Most importantly our materials are carcinogenic free. Our packaging is recycled and recyclable. Our swing tags are made from 100% recycled pulp and we are always looking at finding other new innovations in both material sourcing and packaging.

Who or what inspired you to start your brand? 

I have been working in Fashion since I was a teenager. While working in my uncle’s factory as a teenager and being surrounded by a bevy of creative people it created a burning desire to build a brand in the fashion industry. Being gifted with great creative genes thanks to my grandma I knew that this was not just a desire but actually something I could create quite easily. I started this brand without any family support but today  I have the whole family rallying for LaBante London – it’s something I am very proud as well as humbled about.

Every year LaBante donates a percentage of its profits to charity, what charities & why is giving back so important to you? 

I was born in India, brought up in Hong Kong and the US and have lived in the UK for a long time.  I have seen both abject poverty and excess wealth as a dichotomy between the East and the West. This made me think what if we were able to strike a balance? If most companies were to donate at least 10% of their profits I am quite confident we would be able to eradicate poverty as a whole on our beautiful planet.

We donate to three types of charities: Mental Health, Animal, Disease: I believe Mental health especially during this day and age has not been given enough importance – therefore we support Self-realization fellowship started by Paramhansa Yogananda offer a variety of free guided meditations to get people the right support in this highly paced digital world.  It has helped me transform my life. We also support Peta, Yorkshire Wildlife Park that gives shelter to animals saved from Circuses, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and lastly Disease based we support Macmillan Cancer Support ( my grandfather died of a brain tumour and I really felt that loss as I was very young but still close to him) and currently we are running a just giving page along with NHS charities together to raise funds for PPE equipment for our frontline workers and more importantly we are using our connections in Asia to help the UK NHS source PPE equipment at subsidised rates so that it can help save lives of all those heroes working day and night to help us fight COVID 19.

Can you elaborate on the pivotal moment that your shaped your future & turn you vegetarian?

I used to pass a butcher’s shop where animals were kept alive and caged before being killed in front of customers for their meat. It was a pretty transforming and life-changing event in my life and from that moment I became a vegetarian.

I love the fact that your bags really are priced to fit most budgets. Was this important to you that vegan fashion could reach the masses? 

Yes, this was actually one of the reasons I wanted to bring LaBante to the world – it was very important to me for the prices to be accessible for the general public so that they have beautiful leather free options with amazing craftsmanship and sustainable at the same time. I want our customers to be proud of the fact they are leading the way for a cruelty free sustainable world by investing in LaBante London pieces. It is always extremely hard to balance our profitability targets and the high cost of our products while still keeping prices relatively accessible especially in light of COVID 19 when our supply chain in struggling with lack of demand but the LaBante London team has pushed forward irrespective of the hard times and I am sure we will come out the other side of this global crisis much stronger than before.

If you could choose one famous influencer to be the brand’s ambassador who would it be & why? 

It would have to be Miley Cyrus  and Joaquin Phoenix – Both of them have used their platforms to speak out against animal cruelty.

Who or what inspires you when designing each bag? 

The Customer – she is our biggest Muse, how can we simplify her life is what is important to us. Whether it is the laptop compartment or the secret message in our bags that empower her to carry on although life throws curve balls at her from all directions but she moves forward unstoppable by anyone or any circumstance. We want her to get a LaBante London accessory and be wowed and genuinely happy that she chose us over other leather brands because she herself is the light at the end of the tunnel! Like Gandhi Said – ‘You must Be the change you want to see in the World’.  

How important do you feel it is to collaborate with influencers & fashionistas? 

I feel it is quite important for both brands and influencers to ‘work collectively’ on spreading the message of sustainable and Cruelty Free Fashion so that we are together able to reach a larger audience and thereby hasten the spread of the beautiful work we are doing. This will also help people realise the problems with fast fashion and urgency is quite important as some of the biggest market cap in fashion is currently held by fast fashion brands.

In your opinion do you feel the future of fashion is cruelty free? If so why? 

Yes, I think especially in light of the recent events in the world I feel more and more people will turn towards both spirituality and a much higher understanding about how real Climate change really is. So I think the future is Cruelty Free & Sustainable”

What does the future of LaBante look like? 

I think LaBante is going to take sustainable vegan fashion to every home in the US, UK and Germany and will revolutionise the way people shop over the next 5 years. We aim to be a sustainable cruelty free one stop shopping destination where people can shop………….

It was an absolute pleasure speaking with the wonderful Vanita & learning more about her brand. Do check out LaBante London, they have a huge range of ethical bags & Totes for every occasion.

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