Charlottetown-based natural clothing company TVAAG is seeking to lessen the health and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, often said to be the second-most polluting in the world.

TVAAG (derived from a Sanskrit word meaning skin) is making cotton and bamboo clothing using 24 non-polluting herbal dyes traditional to India.

Founded by Meghal Vijayan last July after he attended PEI’s Startup Zone accelerator, TVAAG’s athletic and leisure wear is biodegradable. Currently, most athletic wear is made from harmful synthetic materials and chemical dyes.

Vijayan says cotton is durable, ideal for hard workouts, while bamboo is very comfortable and can be used for lighter workouts and leisure wear.

“We are working on a menswear range now,” he said in an interview. “It will be casually active wear. You can sweat in it and go on to a business meeting and you’re not going to stink… Bamboo absorbs moisture and lets it evaporate.”

Vijayan said cotton production is one of the most resource intensive and polluting fabrics on the planet.

“But what we use is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) in all our fabrics, which does not use pesticides or GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). No toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton. It doesn't damage the soil, has less impact on the air, and uses 88 percent less water and 62 percent less energy.”

Bamboo, he said, is one of the most resilient plants on the planet.

“It doesn't require pesticides to grow and also provides an abundance of usable oxygen, making it an element in the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

The company began after Vijayan saw social media posts featuring celebrities and fashion icons dressed in “athleisure” wear. The trend piqued his interest and he researched the athleisure industry and identified problems related to the health and environmental impacts of using chemical dyes and synthetic fabrics.

In July 2020, he started TVAAG. The team of three includes an operations partner in Portugal.

Attending Startup Zone was a help and motivator.

“I’d had the idea (for the company) but how to do it was the problem,” he said. “I’m not from a business family and it’s a lot about mindset -- the fact you must be willing to take that leap of faith…You’ve got to find the dollars. You wonder, what if I lose the dollars, you never know unless you invest that money and time…”

He said Startup Zone was perfect for community building.

“We were quick to interact with different people and get something going.”

So far, the TVAAG team has bootstrapped the company and received a grant for business development from the provincial government as well as a grant from Canada Starts.

The company is currently taking pre-orders and seeking to raise $30,000 to begin production.

The price of the range is competitive, Vijayan said, equivalent to high-end athleticwear.

“We are looking for investors, especially those who understand what we are doing and have experience in the sector,” he added.