As part of our new series on fashion labels with an eco-heart we take a look at the Kantala brand, named after the Sanskrit word for the Hana plant and founded by Nadishan Shanthikumar & Vikum Rajapakse in 2013.
Kantala offers a selection of Eco-friendly handbags with a touch of contemporary flair that are good for your wardrobe and your conscience. Most importantly, Nadishan & Vikum are very aware of the impact that the fashion industry has on nature and they have been striving to counter those ill-effects by supporting local highly-skilled artisans and preserving their traditional craftsmanship. All their merchandise carries PETA's vegan & cruelty-free certification, meaning no animals are exploited during the manufacturing process.
From handcrafted clutch bags, passport holders and wallets to crossbody bags, totes and travel accessories, all Kantala's products are made from natural materials:
Both in their thirties, Nadishan from Colombo and Vikum from Kiribathgoda, the two men came up with the idea of an eco-friendly brand whilst working together at one of Sri Lanka's largest apparel manufacturers. They noticed a growing demand for ethically made products and felt that Sri Lanka should become more than just a manufacturing destination for global fashion brands. With this goal in mind, they launched their venture in the little village of Henavala in the Dumbara valley of Kandy district.
Both men agree that their mission at Kantala is to “deliver artisan fashion accessories that bring empowerment and cheer to the world of fashion, where consumers have the opportunity to invest in responsible high-quality handbags, and traditional artisans can build a sustainable and respectable livelihood”.
They also say that their biggest challenge in getting consumers to seek out more ethical and sustainable alternatives to high street fashion has been “convincing them to pay a slight premium for a high quality product that has been ethically made with our planet and people in mind”. They add, “Consumers have gotten used to a fast fashion lifestyle where prices are low”.
At Kantala, they are proud to claim:
For over 300 years, the inhabitants of Henavala village, near Kandy, have perfected and passed down the art of handwoven Hana mats to the next generation.
When Nadishan and Vikum first met the artisans of Henavala in 2013, the craft was hanging by a thread. Kantala is a success thanks to the hard work, training and support of chief artisan, Mr Dharmadasa, and those craftspeople residing in the village who carry on the tradition with pride, passion and precision, using the same techniques and tools as their ancestors.
Kantala's handbags and accessories are available in different styles, sizes and colours so there is certainly something for everyone. I ordered myself a stylish pink 'Aayuh' clutch bag from their online site. However, you can also buy your own from retailers: 'Barefoot','The Design Collective', 'Fashion Market. LK' and 'Rithihi', all located in Colombo.
Nadishan and Vikum
For more information on Kantala: https://www.kantalabrands.com/