Meet The Designer: Shivajothi

Backstage, Sujitha Shivajothi takes us into her world of slow fashion and quality fabrics. Shivajothi talks about her extensive design education at design schools

Sujitha Shivajothi is a local Canadian designer, gender-inclusive. How she watched her mother sew and mend garments. This collection is reminiscent of a large, gender-inclusive closet that anyone can shop at. A timeless collection, defined by its quality fabric and sustainability. Products designed and handmade in Vancouver, BC.

“I was constantly inspired by the impeccably tailored garments my father owned combined with the beautifully pleated and beaded sarees my mother wore. I always wanted to find a way to unify how East meets West, which is what I believe Shivajothi strives to accomplish. ” from vfwsite

What inspired your brand?

My first name is Sujitha and my last name is Shivajothi. The collection is a gender fluid collection. I’ve always wanted pieces to transcend the notion of gender. Growing up, I always just looked in my dad’s closet or anyone’s right and it was baffling why you’d have to shop within a certain gender.

For me, I always wanted to start my own label and I just wanted to make it feel like one giant closet where anyone could walk in and just throw on a coat. That idea was really the inspiration behind the label. I’ve incorporated classic tailoring and tailoring details, as I feel like those classic aspects are almost being lost with fast fashion. So for me, it was really important to take it back, and go back to some of those tailoring techniques.

A lot of my garments have hand sewn details to it. For example, this coat [shows us the garment] , it was pretty much all hand sewn. A lot of my fabrics are upcycled like this one here, it was completely made from just leftover fabric and patchworked together. 

How do you find all your leftover fabrics and keep your label sustainable?

Typically what I’ll do is keep fabrics from my grad school. So, from design school I had so much leftover fabric from my collection. I didn’t throw anything away, even if it’s scraps, and I’ll use those to create my pieces. Not to say everything was upcycled for this collection, I did have to go get a few collaborators. But I’ll incorporate those smaller pieces into accessories like a bucket hat. A lot of materials also come from my parents closet, and from things they weren’t using anymore.

What inspired this specific collection?

This one was a few years in the making, I will say, because we were supposed to show in 2020 but obviously, with COVID, everything got pushed. I will say it was really hard designing a collection in the midst of COVID because morals are definitely down. So pushing through that, I feel like a lot of [the collection] came from the feeling of just restrictions and confinement.

A lot of it’s drawn from my parents because my background is Sri Lanken. So there’s a lot of pleating techniques in there. My dad’s always worn very tailored garments and my mom always wears very elegant saris that are pleated to perfection. I really wanted to create a collaboration of East meets West. And that’s where this collection came from. 

What’s your creative process like?

For me, honestly, I’ll just start sketching things out and then I’m like, “Okay, this goes”, and I kind of just toss it together. It’s a chaotic process. There’s like more than one systematic way to design so for me, but it’s what I’m surrounded by that really influences my designs.

What’s the vision of the future of your brand?

The future vision for my brand is honestly sustainability and transparency. I feel like a lot of labels that claim to be sustainable or green don’t give any information about what they use so for me, it’s really important that I stay true to my brand identity, which is things made locally and made by me.

I know as a brand grows they can’t always be the most sustainable practice, but I don’t want to mass produce. That’s something I’ve always said since the beginning. Every piece I do will be very limited runs and exclusive fabrics or things like upcycles; those are one off pieces.

Thank you to Sujitha Shivajothi for introducing us to the gender-inclusive, sustainable brand that is Shivajothi! It seems sustainability and slow fashion is making more of an appearance in the fashion industry, and we love your maintenance of both this, and your own creativity.

Shivajothi’s designs can be found on her website and on instagram @shivajothi_

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