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Interview: Cruelty-Free Fashion Label Delikate Rayne

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We live in exciting times.  Veganism isn’t just having a moment–it’s becoming mainstream.  And while caring consumers have a decent amount of options in the world of food and accessories (e.g. bags and shoes), there’s still a dearth of cruelty-free fashion labels that also care about the people who make our clothes and reducing waste, too.  Because of this lack, I’m always on the lookout for new vegan designers who are pushing the envelope in terms of ethics and design.

So imagine my excitement in finding the label Delikate Rayne, a lux cruelty-free brand that’s as fashion forward as it is considerate.

Meg and Komie Vora of Delikate Rayne

Meg and Komie Vora

Started in December 2013 by sisters Meg and Komie Vora, the Delikate Rayne line takes a holistic view when creating their cruelty-free line.

All production takes place in LA with a family-owned factory that pays its workers fair wages with clean working conditions as opposed to a sweatshop (unfortunately, the US still has them).  The sisters also reject the fast fashion model (detailed in the documentary True Cost–the sisters are big fans and attended the LA premier) by creating limited runs that focus on quality over quantity, thus keeping unsold garments out of the waste stream. In addition, they’re currently working on increasing online transparency for their manufacturing process, showing customers how they walk their talk.

Design-wise, the label leans toward a more raw and experimental aesthetic with avant-garde pieces such as the Asymmetrical Blouse, the new wave-meets-punk vegan leather miniskirt, and a flowy racerback tank with cut-out detailing, making way for a fresh perspective among cruelty-free fashion peers.

Asymmetrical Blouse

Asymmetrical Blouse

White Vegan Miniskirt

White Vegan Leather Mini Skirt

Black Satin Racerback Tank

Black Satin Racerback Tank

Read on for their catalysts to becoming designers, what’s surprised them the most about running their own company, and the style icons that inspire them.

PD:  What was the breaking point that made you both finally decide to take the leap to becoming fashion designers?

MV: I was just over everything…my job, the way my days were being spent, just my life in general at that point in time. I wanted something fresh, some new energy to be infused into me. Just to be inspired again with a purpose. It was kind of like, I need to have less talk, less day dreams and more action. Time to make moves.

KV: Knowing there was a void in the market for well-made cruelty-free clothing in the contemporary market. One day Meg and I were having a conversation and we were talking about clothing and what is considered “cool” and “not cool.” I remember she said something like, no one likes or respects garments that use faux fur or faux leather etc…and that is when a light bulb hit and I said that’s it! But it is cool! There had to be others out there that had a similar lifestyle and beliefs we did.

PD:  What kind of jobs were you doing before Delikate Rayne and how long did it take to prepare jump in to creating a fashion label? (e.g. were you creating this in your spare time outside of your day jobs, etc.)

MV: I was working in business development for a software startup that had absolutely nothing to do with fashion. Komie and I would spend hours after work talking about how we should do something on our own but were always hesitant, since in our culture, two girls branching out into fashion isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. A gazillion sleepless nights ensued because we would work on everything after hours and on the weekends pretty much in secret. People started forgetting what we looked like because we were always just staying in to work. 😀 It’s insane the amount of energy you can get from the high of being motivated.

KV: I was working for an indie jewelry designer and a majority of their business was sold online. I saw the advantage of how selling online was profitable from an early stage before e-commerce was huge, so when I would come home at night I would have these chats with Meg about what was happening.  I just knew we needed to tap into that world somehow. Ironically, I would be randomly sketching designs and had a notebook full of ideas about having a “line” not knowing we would be turning it into a business a few years later.

PD:  Although your site says that neither of you had any formal industry experience, did you have any experience designing and sewing clothes before you jumped in?

MV: We have always designed our blouses to wear with our saris, that’s definitely our thing. Usually whenever we go back to visit family in India we would usually design some Eastern and Western pieces to take back with us. The tailors in India are so spot on. We also took sewing classes for fun during the summer. I want to go back.

KV: When we were younger we had a tendency to put our own twist to items that we already had to make the clothing look more hip and more of our style. I guess that was a part of us that wanted to separate ourselves from the rest and not have what everyone else did.

PD:  Other than polyurethane for your vegan leather, how do you choose what types of textiles that you’ll use for your garments?

MV: It’s all about the design and fit. We figure out the pieces we want to make and then work backwards from there…certain fabrications only look good or look much more flattering in certain styles so always need to be aware of that.

KV: It is all dependant on what the style is going to be. Fabrics can be tricky because the garment does not always end up looking the way you envisioned it to be. We like to look at pieces that do really well in a fabrication that is not cruelty-free and then challenge ourselves to source a fabric similar and create a style that can hold the same quality as if it were the real thing.

PD:  What’s surprised you the most about running your own company?

MV: How many people do and don’t actually keep their word in business.

KV: How much patience I can have.

PD:  When you start feeling overwhelmed, how do you center/motivate yourselves to keep going?

MV: Go to the library, workout, try and catch up on my massive pile of unread Bloomberg Businessweek issues, make a juice – pretty much just engage in something completely not related to fashion. Sometimes you just need to decompress and get away from everything so it can all make sense again.

KV: I love working out and always make sure I make time for that. I think it’s important to have that “me time”  to self reflect and think things through. I’ll browse through YouTube and watch different interviews or documentaries that self-made entrepreneurs went through and continue to go through. I think it is always inspiring and motivating seeing what other people went through to get to where they are at today. Chats with my parents always help too. I tend to go to my dad a lot for business advice.

PD:  For all of the people out there who are looking to become conscious entrepreneurs, what would your number one piece of advice be?

MV: Always expect the unexpected and know that a change is coming because you are helping to create that movement. Never lose sight of that, it’s the only thing that will keep you going at times. Any time you are attempting something out of the norm it’s going to be that much harder in every way and you have to be okay with that.

KV: You have to have a lot of patience and not feel discouraged. Make sure you really believe in what you are doing. When you are coming out with a brand that has a purpose, you are dealing with a lot more than just selling a product to make money.

PD:  There’s an amazing faux leather jacket on your homepage.  Will that be available anytime soon?

MV: Ahh thank you, it’s in the works!

KV: All I will say is that we def have something in the works for jackets =)

And now on to a few of your favorite things 😉

Can’t-Live-Without-It Vegan Beauty Product
MV: Lush Superbalm
KV: Inika lipstick

Favorite Piece of Clothing
MV: The Delikate Rayne silky satin trim shorts any of my super distressed vintage tees
KV: The Delikate Rayne scoop back tank and a pair of Levi’s hi-waisted jean shorts

Favorite Accessory
MV: Sunglasses, dainty thin gold rings and chains layered up everyday
KV: Sunglasses

Style Icon That Inspires You
MV: There are so many but off the top of my head maybe Gaia Repossi… I’m always in lust with the rings and ear cuffs she designs. Oh and the Olsens during their “it” Balenciaga boot era.
KV: Tumblr! LOL. That’s because I can see how women from all around the world dress. I can literally be inspired by the chick walking down the street to Vashtie to Christine Centenera. I gravitate towards different styles and like to change it up.

Favorite City/Country to Visit
MV: Too many to name but will always be obsessed with India and New York
KV: There are so many places I still want to visit, but I do have a soft spot for tropical destinations. I love being anywhere by the water.

Favorite Vegan Restaurant
MV: Currently it’s a tie…Crossroads- fine vegan dining and Shojin- vegan sushi!!
KV: Recently Toca Madera’s in West Hollywood. Their vegan menu is amazzzingggg!

Best Way to Get Through the Day
MV: A matcha latte with vanilla soy milk every morning
KV: 90s hip-hop and R&B and drinking lots of water

Guilty Pleasure
MV: Reading in bed all day + eating these masala banana wafer chips from India while watching Law & Order SVU completely uninterrupted
KV: French fries and salt & vinegar chips

When You Feel Most Beautiful
MV: Probably when I get a blowout because I can’t do my hair to save my life
KV: In a pair of heels

Thanks to Meg and Komie for taking the time to go behind the label with us 🙂

To snag a piece from the collection and read their manifesto, check out Delikate Rayne.

More inspirational interviews: Lithuanian Filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas

Melanie Linehan of Animal Behavior

Jill Fraser of Jill Milan

Photos: Delikate Rayne

Kim Fortin

Kim Fortin

Contributor at Peaceful Dumpling
Kim, a recent Portland, OR transplant, is always on the lookout for cute street style. If she's not caught in the Pinterest vortex of fashion and tasty food, she's reading, running, or writing--not necessarily in that order. You can check her out on Pinterest @restlessnights and Twitter.
Kim Fortin
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