Mumbai-based Shriyans Bhandari, along with his professional partner Ramesh Dhami, has stepped into the world of entrepreneurship as well as that of social work. Combining the two, Bhandari and Dhami’s venture Green Sole aims to help the environment one shoe at a time. By collecting sports shoes through their corporate tie-ups and refurbishing them to create recycled slippers, the duo is not only reducing waste production, but also donating free footwear to villages in Maharashtra. Simultaneously, Bhandari’s project also sells a part of their recycled product inventory. With a factory in Kurla, manufacturing partners, corporate associates, and constantly evolving learning and expertise, Bhandari’s venture goes beyond looking at footwear as just fashion, but makes it a tool of social welfare.
“I was a marathon runner,” he tells us, describing his inspiration behind Green Sole. Like any other athlete, Bhandari would through away worn out shoes every year and eventually realised how much that contributes to waste production. The streak of entrepreneurship was always in the 21-year-old, which he nurtured by completing a Masters in Entrepreneurial Leadership in Boston. Originally hailing from Udaipur, he has now learned the ins and outs of footwear design and production in Mumbai. “India will soon become inhabitable because of exploitation,” sighs Bhandari, reaffirming his dedication to the cause of waste reduction and environmental consciousness. His love for nature and the environment is also reflected in his passion for wildlife photography. The young self-taught shutterbug also boasts of having published a guide book of bird photography titled Birds of Aravallis in association with the Bombay Natural History Society.
Behind the wardrobe doors
With environmental consciousness at the front of his life, Bhandari’s wardrobe mirrors his desire to control waste production. His closet is minimal, with two short piles of work wear sitting on a shelf. Throwing in a bit of colour in the sea of blue, grey and black official blazers is a row of colourful ties, vibrant and joyful, displaying orange, red, blue, green and more. His accessories, though minimal, showcase his impeccable eye for quality and style as he shows us his prized black Mont Blanc pen and sleek black leather wallet.
Proving his marathon runner status, Bhandari’s shoe rack sports a pair of running shoes. He laughs, “Soon those will become Green Soles slippers.” Apart from a suave pair of black leather shoes, his other footwear includes products of his own company which is uses as daily slippers. While his personal ones are yellow with purple straps, he pulls out boxes of samples in all colours, shapes and sizes. With recycled jute forming the uppers of the shoes, his creations are sturdy, comfortable, environmentally conscious as well as stylish. He explains one of the biggest challenges Bhandari and Dhami faced while setting up Green Sole, “We had no technical expertise regarding footwear.” Eventually, the pair successfully studied footwear designing and development to produce slippers out of old, worn out running shoes.
WM: If you could have any other career, what would it be?
SB: “I’d still do something in entrepreneurship, for sure.”
WM: Which fashion brands do you frequent the most?
SB: “I shop a lot from Zara, especially official clothes.”
WM: Your preferred fabrics?
SB: “Cotton, definitely. It’s light, airy and environmentally sustainable.”
WM: Do you have any style icons?
SB: “Not icons in particular, but I loved the concept of Emma Watson’s red carpet dress. The recycled one.”
WM: Which accessories complete your looks?
SB: “I always have a good really wallet, a good pen and plenty of ties.”