Ali Azimi talks about his water-saving fashion label Kind of Blau and the in-house NGO Drip by Drip. He also talks about the inevitable relevance of water conservation and his reasons for creating a sustainable label.
FCG: Kind of Blau has made a name for itself as a water-saving fashion label. But what does that mean in concrete terms?
Ali Azimi: In concrete terms, this means that we have focused on the water footprint from fibre to finishing and are trying to keep this as low as possible. On the one hand, by using particularly water-saving, selected fibres and, at the same time, through particularly water-saving production. Therefore we try to source and produce only in Europe. At the same time we try to finance water projects in Bangladesh by giving 5% of each sale to our own NGO.
FCG: Why is the topic of water conservation so relevant in the textile industry?
Ali Azimi: Water is an essential part of our lives, we all agree on that by now. But unfortunately we have forgotten how much the countries of the global south, where cotton is grown or where the textile industry is located, suffer from water shortage or water pollution. Not only do we want to draw attention to this, but we also want to make a direct contribution to combating this problem. My journey took me first and foremost to Bangladesh, where I experienced first-hand what the textile industry has done.
FCG: And do you think there is enough information and education about the issue?
Ali Azimi: Yes, there are now. But three and a half years ago it wasn't like that. That's why I decided to look into it and was surprised that it didn't have an essential place in the fashion world or fashion production. I would definitely put the topic of water and textiles on the agenda even before the topic of Co2, as we have much more scope for action here. However, the topic has now found its way into the public eye and I am very proud that our association and our label have contributed to this.
FCG: Presumably this is also where your NGO Drip by Drip came from. Tell us about it!
Ali Azimi: That's one way of looking at it. I wanted to create a combination between saving money and investing in water projects at the same time. I then simply set out to find a solution, flew to London, Bangladesh and Portugal to build this framework. Fortunately, I found many comrades-in-arms who had similar goals and shared my vision. This led to the creation of the world's first NGO that revolves solely around water and fashion. We work on fabric innovations, which I pushed for. We do awareness work at universities, fashion colleges and trade shows. We also invest in water projects in Bangladesh along with many other labels who have joined forces with us to finally tackle this global problem.
FCG: Sustainability aspects seem to be indispensable when founding new brands. Would it have been conceivable for you to found Kind of Blau without sustainability in mind?
Ali Azimi: I'm not sure if it was or is the sustainability idea. A lot has changed since the beginning and I no longer recognise fashion as a mere marketing tool or campaign for water. I want to create sophisticated fashion built on a foundation of quality, grace, sincerity and creativity. So there are many ways to live sustainability without abusing it at the same time. I think if you take these virtues into account, you can be successful even without wearing green or blue.
FCG: In your opinion, do brands that are founded in 2021 still have a raison d'être if they don't meet any sustainable criteria?
Ali Azimi: I think that everything has its right to exist as long as it is valued and desired. There are enough brands that have nothing to do with it and are significantly more successful than we are. So there are plenty of examples. The question is, what do we want to achieve with it? Do we want to provide something valuable and unique for society and give people the opportunity to be a part of it, or do we just want to offer lifeless products at the lowest possible price?! Both can be found in the "green" world as well as in the "fast" fashion world. I have chosen the former and I continue to stick to that.