Wardrobe Crisis Podcast: Clare Press Meets Bandana Tewari

This week on the Wardrobe Crisis Podcast, Clare Press discovers how one former Vogue India editor swapped conspicuous consumption for mindful luxury  as she talks slowing down, looking within and what we can learn from Gandhi about sustainable fashion with Bandana Tewari.

After 13 years of being at the centre of the high fashion world in India, Bandana Tewari gave it all up to focus on activism and develop her theories on mindful luxury. She believes we can learn a thing or two from Gandhi about sartorial integrity.

Listen to the full interview here

“[Working in fashion] taught me everything and gave me the best opportunities,” she says. “I met the most beautiful minds in design. How many of us can say I say: ‘I interviewed Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano and Gaultier?’ So I feel privileged, beyond. But I think I needed to go through that entire cycle to realise that if I am going to be on a sustainable journey…then I’ve got to be somewhat of a purist.” These days she writes for Business of Fashion, but she doesn’t shop like she used to.

“It requires a mindset change,” she continues. “It wasn’t about me extracting myself a massive magazine conglomerate to be able to have a voice, that really wasn’t it. But my whole lifestyle changed when I left Mumbai for Bali. My daughter now goes to a sustainable school called The Green School in Ubud. It was not just a decision about changing my journey professionally but my entire lifestyle. 

“Can you imagine, I left a city where I had clout? I had social standing. I left a city of 22 million people [to] go and live in a jungle! It was a complete lifestyle change. I literally gave away 90% of my Vogue goodies accumulated over 13 years. I had clothes that still had tags on, and I felt gross about myself. There’s a great book that everyone should read called Stuffocation. We are ‘stuffocated’ by the stuff that we accumulate,” she says. 

“What was the need for me to be such a hoarder? I gave away my stuff and I reached Bali with my daughter with just three suitcases between us. So it was a huge mind-shift… and here I am talking with you about sustainability.”

It’s been almost two years since she’s bought new clothes. “That for me is conscious choice, of not engaging for a while. We happily go on great diets just to keep ourselves fit, why do we worry when we don’t buy for a while? We can go on a fashion diet!”

Tewari says that while she’s “no saint”, she has learned the power of meditation as a tool on her quest to approach everything – not just fashion – more mindfully. “I’m always reminding myself that I’ve got to be more mindful,” she says. Like everyone, she goes through phases. “Then I realise what made me really happy is being able to dedicate even 15 minutes of my time in a day to meditating…We make so many excuses…Mindfulness is an everyday practice no matter where you are.”