When the topic of Delikate Rayne fell on my desk, it was screaming NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION. Cruelty free, vegan clothes from two sisters who promote female empowerment and dare to break the social norms. Meg and Komie Vora are basically the definition of being girl and boss. When I received the answers to my questions, I couldn’t stop smiling. They replied with such honesty and devotion to their cause that gave me hope. People, remember you read about Meg and Komie on NBHAP. Remember their brand Delikate Rayne. Those two ladies are going to be a really big thing in the next years.
When was the moment when you decided to found Delikate Rayne?
When we realized that many of the specific styles and pieces we wanted to drape ourselves in weren’t really able to be found let alone animal friendly. The ones we did come across were anything but lux… they were severely lacking the craftsmanship and overall aesthetic we were craving for. Cruelty-free clothes were out there randomly, but there was no consistency and nothing existed in the contemporary market readily available to satisfy our desires.
Although it’s pronounced as ‘delicate rain’, you style it differently. Why?
The name stems from what both of our names mean put together in Hindi. The reason we use a ‘K’ in deliKate is because Komie’s name means delicate and we wanted to add a sliver of personalization to it. We decided to spell it as Rayne instead of rain because you can’t floss out delicate and keep rain basic…we needed to match the point of departure that we did with delicate. You know, make them both stand out more to make it more memorable. It’s a much better fit this way, goes hand in hand with our edgy design aesthetic.
What inspires your work? Your latest collection is called Moonshadows. Why did you pick that name for it?
Komie Vora: I’m inspired by life… Music, paintings, the sun, the ocean, nature, laughter, animals, colors, etc. Everyday you go outside it’s a new adventure and I’m drawn to so many things. I love being observant and looking at peoples wardrobes and thinking to myself ‘why did they choose to purchase or wear that today.’ I’m intrigued by psychology and the mindset of the way people think and how that correlates to their behavior and purchasing decisions.
Delikate Rayne: ‘We like to refer to our company as the ‘Triple E’ factor: edgy, ethical and everlasting’
Meg Vora: Nowadays we are so grossly over saturated on too many levels that it’s hard to pinpoint one exact inspiration. I guess a particular constant for me is any sense of mystery and the unknown. Something that can be taken out of context – what does not exist in tangible form- that fuels my juices to get creative and just create already. Now that I am really thinking about it its also nostalgia. I wish we had a really cool explanation behind the name Moonshadows but not so much. (laughs) It’s just something that materialized naturally the more we thought about it. We realized that the majority of the pieces in this collection are black and white and we could deduce something from that. We felt like the white and ivory pieces were dreamy almost ethereal like which were a pretty stark contrast to the black which was just darkness. It was like seeing the moon and it’s shadow when hung next to each other hence the name.
Well, that’s cool enough, me thinks! What are the core values of your brand? What does being eco & vegan as a company mean to you, girls?
We like to refer to our company as the ‘Triple E’ factor: edgy, ethical and everlasting. We thrive on being a cruelty-free and environmentally conscious company that advocates the empowerment of women. We make sure all of the textiles we source and choose to work with are 100% free of any animal byproducts. We also do our best to to get our hands and utilize the most sustainable selection of fabrics that are available. This includes our leather, which is PVC free as well as vegan. We manufacture everything in LA so not only we support our local economy but are also able to be more hands on in the day to day process. It’s important to us not only overseeing the quality of our merchandise being made, but also assuring that the makers of our pieces are getting treated and paid fairly in proper working conditions.
On top of it all, you’re the definition of girls being bosses. I was reading your memoir note and I’d like to quote a phrase from it: ‘Being female and Indian involves a great degree of determinism’. How hard is it to break from the social norms of your India?
KV: We are first generation born and raised in the USA. Traditionally in India, women are the caretakers and do not really advance in their education or career path. However, if you are fortunate enough to further your career, it must be a path to becoming a doctor, engineer, dentist, or something in that nature. Being a fashion designer is not readily accepted. We wanted to change these boundaries and follow what our passion was and encourage other women who may be experiencing the same thing to go after their dreams and walks of passion. Stop living or pursuing a life that someone else is trying to live through you since they didn’t have the courage to go do it themselves. Go be you and take control of your own story.
Meg Vora: ‘Everyday is a new day, a new challenge. Since tomorrow is never promised we can never get too comfortable.’
MV: I’m not sure we fully have [broken from the social norms]. I think that’s something we are going to face over and over again as we continue to prove ourselves, while India tries to move away from it’s traditional ways of thinking. Not only have we decided to journey on the road less traveled from a cultural standpoint but we are also building a label that’s core operating principles that aren’t so well received in the contemporary market. So it’s like getting into the game with two strikes already. I think that India continues to have a fascination with the Western culture. Being the first generation in this country has been a trial and error process of all sorts for us and our parents. Unfortunately, there is no simple formula to execute or magic wand to wave and change the social norms that prevail [in India].
Branching out and pursuing something that is still considered as taboo and not supported by many within our culture is crazy scary. That suffocating level of judgement is real but that’s also what forces us to push through and forward to truly achieve what we have set out to do. I always hear in the back of my head that typical Indian talk, Indian parents are famous for speaking ‘Oh you got an A? That’s nice but why didn’t you get an A+?’ (laughs) It’s that ‘but’, that level of questioning I know is present. Whether it’s vocalized or not, it’s still there. I can’t imagine Komie and I not doing this together. At least this way we can both be the black sheep of the family together, no one is going to get singled out. (laughs) We have proved more of a point and got our parents to take us a lot more seriously since we were both so adamant and passionate about Deliakte Rayne. For the record they are fully on board and super supportive now! Everyday is a new day, a new challenge. Since tomorrow is never promised we can never get too comfortable. Especially in fashion, you can be the hottest thing one day and the next day you are a has been. We have to remember to never lose sight of why we are doing this in the first place. Primarily when the going gets tough and that is more often than not.
Since we’re talking about female empowerment here (which is something that obviously flows abundant inside both of you), I’d like to hear your views on the ‘fourth wave’ of feminism, that many say we’re experiencing now. These days you’ll hear more and more women calling out men for abusing, ignoring and not treating them equally, which is great but doesn’t stop the mistreating. Many women work on the desexualization of the female body, but very often the results of those efforts bring confusion. Where do you think that the problem lies? From your perspective, what would you suggest as the most effective way in order to finally reach a point where the gender does not make us feel second class people?
KV: Both males and females will have to play a role in this. Women should continue encouraging and empowering one another more so men can follow. If women cannot support one another then how does our fight for equality make any sense? We should reframe the way we think about women and work on stopping placing limitations to their aspirations and abilities to pursue ambitious, successful careers. We need to educate the men at the top of these corporations and shed more light to female participation, stereotypes, gender bias and other traditional views. Women just need to continue to fight for what they want, both at home and workplace.
MV: I think that whenever women find the power and courage to use their voice that’s EXACTLY what they should be doing. I know that’s easier said than done, though. Its a total catch 22 and it’s completely nonsense.The lines are so blurred. There is no concrete black and white answer as to where the actual problem lies…it’s definitely a cocktail of chaos that has been brewing for too long and everyone has been drinking it for even longer. All of this has just lent itself to creating this massive confusion Everyone is drunk off of fake promises and faulty information. These women though, in the end of the day, are still operating from a place of fear and that leaves you paralyzed. It is completely disheartening to see that the world has made significant, positive strides in other areas of life.
This great momentum allows for people to live with modern comforts, yet on the other hand we are unable to do the same when it comes to women’s rights and equality.
We have taken two steps forward and then two steps back which leaves you in the same place you started. Not where we thought we would be in 2016. Social norms play a huge part in less developed countries I believe. It remains that way because they don’t have access to the same information and ideologies we do. Until they do they are going to remain in this same vicious cycle. There is a huge lack of awareness and education. We really need to figure out how to work together to bring these important issues to light. We need to start having the conversations people don’t want to have. A dialogue that is going to get people thinking about the stuff we usually turn a blind eye to because it’s easier. Change can be scary. Especially for those who have been sustaining the same practices for years- they don’t know anything else. Only then will we be able to perhaps implement some sort of change.
Getting back to the fashion talk, you also state that ‘the only woman you can be is yourself’. Do you think that the fashion world of nowadays is open enough to accept individuality or does it have no openmindness whatsoever? What I’ve seen for example through my work for the magazine is that the bigger the fashion brand is, the more conservative it is. How does Delikate Rayne aim to break the stereotypes and praise that each and every woman for being different?
KV: I think we are at a time where people are willing to take more chances and risks than ever before. For example, Louis Vuitton in their latest campaign have Jaden Smith as one of their models for their womenswear collection. With the luxury of the internet we are accessible to so many more people and things and I think companies are really using that to their advantage to encourage them to step into the wild side. What we basically do is using Delikate Rayne as a platform to encourage women to be true and who they really are, no matter what. That’s what makes you special. Being ‘vegetarian’ while growing up wasn’t easy – we would be made fun of all the time. It was a foreign concept to so many people. We hope that our journey and challenge in this industry will encourage others to go for what they believe in. They should never feel too small because they have a voice. Everybody can make a difference. We had no connections in fashion industry prior to Delikate Rayne, let alone the fact that we never attended fashion school. If you are passionate about something and dedicated you are capable of doing anything.
Komie Vora: ‘If women cannot support one another then how does our fight for equality make any sense?’
MV: The bigger ‘corporate’ companies are always going to display varying degrees of restraint since they have a number of department heads to answer to. With that level of pressure and number of eyes watching over you have to play ‘safe’. They need to stick to what’s tried and true so they can continue to meet their sales quotas. With everyone else though, there has definitely been a shift from the traditional fashion paradigm to something that is a bit more open and receiving. In today’s world, a new energy has been brewing and it’s becoming more widely accepted to expand into previously frowned upon territory which is awesome. I think this type of thinking is starting to slowly trickle down to the larger corporations. It’s all about baby steps I guess. The greater acceptance of the transgender community in fashion has opened doors for a lot of new things. In turn I think the industry is moving towards a more androgynous experience with fashion- the blending of masculine and feminine spirits is an exciting combination and I’m curious to see where it all goes next. With Delikate Rayne even though we are a women’s line first and foremost, we have toyed around with the idea of unisex pieces. Stemming from our own personal style tendencies we think it could be an interesting point of departure to our current range. That could be the ultimate twist on women empowerment.
You recently won the 2015 ‘Vegan of the Year Award’ for Outstanding Vegan Creative. First of all, congratulations! On a second level, what does that mean for you girls in 2016? What are your goals now, after achieving such a big thing?
Thank you so much! We are very appreciative of being recognized for our efforts. The continual push to create a larger awareness and educate consumers on the positive impact eco and animal friendly clothing has in saving our planet will never not be a goal for us.
There is no such thing as ‘too much’ knowledge.
Producing beautiful pieces that women feel good in and about- guilt-free luxury will always be an on going thing for us as well. Also not losing sight of the fact that influencing someone no matter how small or big it may be is not an overnight thing. It’s so rewarding, when someone tells us that what we are doing has impacted them so much that they are being more mindful of their purchasing decisions as well as their diet. Creating more moments like that, when you can actually see what you are doing is making a positive dent is always goals. Looking forward- working on some cool collabs, releasing new styles and fabrications and definitely traveling more. Traveling is so important, it helps you reset and see clearly again, the only experience you actually pay for that is priceless.
Where can we find you?
Our website is www.delikaterayne.com. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest with the same handle: @delikaterayne.
Since our magazine started as a music blog and since we think that music and fashion go hand in hand, would you mind sharing with us a song that represents Delikate Rayne on the whole?
KV: Diva by BEYONCÉ. The song is about being a strong woman and not caring what other people think. It’s about showing individuals that through hard work you can achieve anything you want regardless of what others say. In addition, Beyonce changes the misconception of what the word ‘diva’ really means and that aligns well with Delikate Rayne’s message and challenge to change people’s perceptions and viewpoints on ‘cruelty-free’ clothing.
MV: They so do [fashion and music go hand in hand]. I can’t pick just one [song], can I give you a playlist instead? Fine, if I just go off the top of my head- Bad Girls, M.I.A.– it just screams Girl Boss & probably Juicy by THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.- ‘You know very well who you are, don’t let ’em hold you down, reach for the stars’ I mean that hook just hits home.
All photos courtesy of Delikate Rayne.