Bandana Tewari

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I was the Fashion Features Director of Vogue India for 13 years, and one of the founding members of a magazine responsible for laying the blueprint for luxury brands to be engaged in an economically fecund India. When I resigned and moved to Bali I dedicated my time to understanding the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi– his socio-economic and grass-root principles of rural empowerment, environmental stewardship, cultural sovereignty and dignity of labour– curious to see if I could apply his principles to the global luxury business.


This resulted in my "Gandhi and Fashion '' experimental dialogue that turned into a keynote speech at the Conde Nast Luxury Conference in Oman, Sydney Museum, Lagos Fashion Week, Berlin Fashion Week, TEDx in Bali amongst others. The simplicity and poignancy of Gandhi’s message resonated globally in the fashion industry. Very organically, I pivoted from being a writer for high-end luxury fashion to being an advocate for sustainable fashion. I owe my journey to my hero Mahatma Gandhi.


Today I am a freelance writer and public speaker advocating the ethos of conscious consumption, the sacred connection between sustainability and spirituality, and the acknowledgment of the power of individual will to affect collective change. My editorial assignments focus almost entirely on slow fashion narratives that are immersed in cultural provenance, sustainable practices, community-based co-creation, and an overarching focus on the purpose of creativity.

In what ways does nature inspire or inform your work?

Everyday I wake up to a fragrant frangipani tree in my garden. Her name is Saraswati- the Vedic Goddess of Wisdom. I pray before her because she is a symbol of the sacredness of nature. In the last four years, my writing style has changed dramatically. As a fashion journalist, I suppose I was expected to write in a particular way- focus on the designer, product and fashion quotient. When i left the bustling city of Mumbai, I gave up a lot, professionally and personally, to start a new chapter in my life. Now I live in Bali ensconced in fertile paddy fields and tempestuous volcanic mountains. I can’t help, but feel deeply compelled (and surprisingly confident) to write stories that do not emerge entirely from my ego, my homo-sapien entitlement, my Vogue privilege. Today, I find myself searching for ways to write stories, any story, that connects the creators of beautiful things to the bedrock of their creative genius- their humanity, their inner connection to the earth resources that allow their art to thrive. Any form of art–canvas, pen or cloth–in my opinion, is in its stark nakedness, a quest to honour that which is sacred, uplifting, and inspiring within. But now we need to look outside our finite selves and revisit a centuries-old truism that is simple and humbling : “All art is an imitation of nature” Seneca.

What does it mean to you to be part of a thriving ecosystem?

A thriving ecosystem for me would be a picture of harmonious co-existence of all species on earth, not just human beings. It would be a state of tranquil surrender to the power of nature, and unconditional respect for the diversity in every forest, sea and mountain. So no monocropping, industrial animal farming and overfishing. If we use earth resources we would commit to regenerating and replenishing the resources that we take from nature. It is said the history of humanity is a history of excavation. In a healthy ecosystem, we would not pillage the earth, and excavate for oil, gold or diamond. We wouldn’t kill animals for our furs and leather goods. Every school would teach the scientific and spiritual perspectives of the importance of biodiversity and the interconnectedness of life on earth.

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