What sort of small brand from Goa is breaking new floor in sustainable design

For a one-man brand, Bandit’s reach is impressive—in addition to retailing out of stores across India (Goa, Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Kochi), they also have a small presence in Portugal, Croatia and Germany. The idea behind the concept, however, is intensely local. One of Vetoskar’s big moments of inspiration struck on an airplane, when he was flying into Mumbai. The descent carried him over a sea of blue tarpaulin that covers the roofs of shanties around the city’s airport. It was the material that would eventually find its way onto Bandit’s iconic backpacks such as the Kanazawa sling bag —but to begin with, it was especially difficult to source. “There is enough of tarpaulin which is sold in the shops, but these are all pure materials,” he says, “We still haven’t reached a point where I can reach out to a particular source and find it—I have to go to 50 different places, because nobody really understands why you would want the waste part of it.” What’s more, the bags have a lot more elements than just the tarpaulin—the seat belts, which he transforms into lining for the bags, are particularly difficult to source. “In Europe, there are places where you can just call and buy different components, but here in Goa and Mumbai, I am running behind scrapyards, and getting stuff washed, cleaned, then sending it to the factory. The factory doesn’t understand why I am using seat belts when they have regular stuff,” he explains.The challenge Vetoskar describes is the fight of a pioneer navigating uncharted territory and mapping a clear pathway for future generations to follow. Bandit is one of the few sustainable accessories brands in India, and as such bears the responsibility of creating and nurturing not just a new business model, but an entire circular ecosystem. The brand makes no attempt to hide the source material—a derivative of polyester—in fact, it celebrates repurposing it into utilitarian fashion accessories. The tarpaulin’s identifiable rivet and rope are treated as design details, through which customers can hang their trinkets and essentials. “Of course it has to be done ergonomically, but celebration of the material was key—it is like a surprise element,” says Vetoskar, “You have seen this material before, but you didn’t expect to see it in this kind of design.”New lease