Ashay Bhave is one of those creatives that just keeps on innovating. Flipping the fashion industry onto its head through a distinct and responsible vision, the 22-year-old sustainability enthusiast is marking his footsteps in the greenest of ways.
Spurred by the seemingly unattainable goal of making sneakers that are good for the environment, Thaely is Bhave’s latest project: a sneaker label that does just that.
Based in the Emirate’s crown showpiece Dubai, the brand is firmly rooted in the creator’s Asian origins and background. Pioneering in the matter, Thaely, a word for plastic bag in Hindi, ironically confronts the growing issue of plastic waste in the ocean—something the majority Arab World hasn’t concerned itself with much.
Upcycled and vegan, the product is sourced in the founder’s home country of India and packed in reusable shopping totes with a basil plant embedded shoebox (simply cut the box and the plant will grow in a matter of days); a whole ecosystem of products that clearly mirrors a high level of creative genius.
Relentlessly tackling one of the world’s biggest challenges in the upcoming decades, we sat down with the brand’s CEO to discuss drive, market appeal and influences. So, if you’re looking for a sustainable and stylish brand to follow, you’re definitely in the right place; introducing Thaely.
As the first vegan sneaker brand of the Middle East, we have to ask, where did the initial idea and drive come from?
I started Thaely after I heard about the single use plastic ban in India. Though the law was widely celebrated, it was never imposed in most areas. I also found out that on an average 5 trillion plastic bags are consumed each year worldwide, at 14% plastic bags also make up the biggest portion of all marine plastic waste. Despite this there was almost no real way of entirely recycling plastic bags and I was motivated to find a solution to this problem through ThaelyTex. ThaelyTex is a fabric that looks and feels like leather but is made entirely out of waste plastic bags, the production process does not need any additional chemicals nor does it release any toxic chemicals as a byproduct. Due to my background, experience and passion for footwear design, sneakers were a natural fit for ThaelyTex.
The region has experienced difficulties in transitioning towards more ethical and sustainable habits and ways. Why was this initiative important for you?
Difficulty in transitioning to a more ethical and sustainable manner of consumption and living is not an issue just limited to the region but a worldwide dilemma. Very often sustainability is inaccessible to the masses despite being the need of the hour. Exploitation of animals and human labor is a widely accepted practice in the fashion industry and I genuinely wanted to change that. I truly wanted to establish a brand that is not only ethical and transparent in its practices but also affordable.
The sneakers clearly show that they were influenced by the 2000’s popular culture which mainly appeals to younger audiences – why stress on this demographic?
A large part of why the brand showcases the 2000s aesthetic is due to me being born in the late 90s and hugely growing up with these pop influences myself. I believe that it is important for a brand like mine to appeal to younger audiences because sustainability starts young and we are the future. I also think that it was an incredibly fashionable era which is considered true by all ages and who does not love being tasteful.
Developed in Dubai, the Emirate has recently positioned itself as a trailblazer in the ecological field. What was the reason why you based the label there?
I spent a large part of my youth in Dubai, I was educated here and I credit a lot of my ideologies to UAE’s drive towards the future and its spirit of innovation. It has also allowed me to be in touch with my roots and closely monitor the manufacturing in India first hand. I’m gravely grateful to the governments of UAE for the role they have played in manifesting my ideas into reality.
To shop Thaely: thaely.com