Misfit Panda is a PETA-approved vegan brand that was launched in January 2017 and has come a long way since. Just as fashion keeps evolving, the brand has also evolved since its inception by striving to be more conscious and responsible. While Misfit Panda has always been a cruelty-free brand offering stylish yet pocket friendly footwear for the aspirational Indian woman, it was becoming increasingly important to take the next big step by finding sustainable alternatives for the raw materials being used. With a goal to be more eco-friendly, the new and evolved range being launched is exciting as it uses eco-friendly materials such as vegan cactus leather, fabrics made from recycled PET bottles, natural fabrics, organic fabrics, soles made from recycled truck tires and artisanal Indian textiles such as Khes.
In an effort to support our Indian heritage, crafts and rural artisans, the Khes fabric has been directly sourced from the weavers in Khurja, Uttar Pradesh. During this continued journey to be more sustainable and eco-friendly, the brand has stayed true to its core values by locally sourcing most of the raw materials. All the beautiful shoes, bags and accessories are made with love in India.
Juveca Panda, the founder of Misfit Panda says it was important for her to align her beliefs with the future of the brand. For that, introspection was obviously a prerequisite. “In a world where it’s become increasingly important to take a stand for what you believe in so you see actual change, I had to ask myself – What is it that you believe in? What is it that you stand for? I didn’t think the answer would come to me so easily, but one day I woke up and decided that I no longer wanted to eat meat or buy products made from animal leather. Simultaneously, I also decided that Misfit Panda would no longer use PU leather as that is still harmful to the environment,” she says.
And it is not merely about being topical for her. Panda says these are serious concerns that require attention. She explains: “I realised that sustainability is more than just a hot topic, it’s a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously. When I wanted to level up Misfit Panda by making it a more conscious and responsible brand, it was a wake-up call for me to level up in my day-to-day life as well. It’s now been over a year since I made a conscious decision to stop purchasing leather products. The impact of the meat and leather industry on our environment is far worse than we realise. While we’re told that leather is a by-product of the meat and diary industry, many well researched articles that delve into the carbon cost of our leather goods have addressed how animal farming for leather is a concerning issue.”
She reaffirms her conviction towards a sustainable future by adding that small steps can result in achieving bigger goals. “We can all do little things in our day to day life to reduce our carbon footprint. Reducing our consumption, buying products that are made more sustainably, shopping from brands that make longer lasting high quality products and mending items from our existing wardrobe are all small steps that make a big difference. Luckily for me, I have the opportunity to not only do this in my personal life, but also shape the future of cruelty-free and sustainable fashion in India and hopefully globally someday!”
These decisions are particularly important to her since cases of animal cruelty continue to baffle people across the world. “I recently became a dog mom and this further strengthened my position on cruelty-free fashion. While I have always loved animals, like many animal lovers who are non-vegetarian and use leather, I found myself living in a paradoxical world where it was acceptable to love animals in my limited sense,” she admits.
“In fact, there are also many vegetarians who are vocal about not eating meat for ethical reasons, but end up buying high-end footwear and bags made from calf leather or exotic leather. It’s important to change this mindset – And as a conscious brand in this space, I feel the responsibility to do so by offering high quality non-leather alternatives.”