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September 8th, 2017. That’s when I first became acquainted with Auster WIP.
At the outset, Auster WIP was conceptualised as an event to mark the launch of Auster (a progressive online service for premium vape-related products from New York) in New Delhi. I’m pretty sure this was one of the biggest and most elaborate warehouse parties Delhi had seen. I remember seeing everyone I knew there getting supremely lit. People were throwing drink coupons in the air and I saw usually awkward friends throwing it down on the dancefloor. It’s funny how people still talk about that night.
I think even then, WIP really knew how to utilise the power of collaboration. The event brought together so many of Delhi’s creative faces. District India, a creative and events agency based in New Delhi helped curate, programme and produce the event, which had a line-up featuring the likes of Jarreau Vandal, Didi Han, Madstarbase, and Zokhuma. Tarini Sethi, a fine artist and curator from the local art scene and Nishant Fogaat, Delhi’s most known sneaker customiser created interactive spatial installations at the warehouse, which belonged to the fashion and lifestyle brand, Bhaane. Criss-crossing these narratives and bringing together their followers was instrumental in celebrating commonalities and setting the tone for further collaborations in music, fashion and design.
Cut to the beginning of a new era. WIP was no longer a vape brand. They were slowly moving into the creative space. With the introduction of a new identity, thinking and product offering, they began cementing themselves as a publication and online merch store. This was around the time when I started working with the brand.
My first few weeks was a deep dive into their philosophy and systems. The idea of ‘giving back’ to the community was prominent throughout their thinking and communication. A major task as soon as I joined was to begin ideating on how we could use our bi-lateral platform (publication and merch store) to support our community and give back to causes that drove them.
Not just that, we wanted to make sure that WIP itself was powered by our audiences and consumers. Our space would be utilised to highlight their voices, wins and struggles. We wanted to utilise clothing as a way to amplify the community’s larger issues. That’s where our tagline: Powered by you comes from.
Through multiple brainstorms, conversations and experiments we built the 4 pillars of Auster WIP. These came to be known as: creative sustainability, community, humanity and co-creation. I spent a lot of time fleshing out these pillars, in my capacity as a copywriter. You can read the meaning behind each pillar below:
We use the tangible and intangible resources available to us in efficient, sustainable and future-friendly ways.
In a world with dwindling resources, we work towards using the ones available to us as sparingly as we can. Our merch philosophy is to produce according to demand - small batch, low waste. Our packaging is 100% biodegradable. In the future, we hope to integrate eco-friendly textiles and printing techniques to our product cycle. In addition to this, our team is constantly conceptualising ways of utilising the digital space efficiently, this means repurposing content, using pre-made templates and engaging younger, lesser-known creatives who want to get their work out there. We believe in working with local talent, some of whom may not necessarily be college-trained.
We want to amplify a diverse set of voices that use their passion to make a difference in their communities.
Community is important to us. We were born from our extended community, which is a culmination of so many personalities, cultures and interests. Our work is not restricted to one field - we’ve worked with India’s online community radio Boxout.fm, design collectives Nonzero.space and Agenc.in, musicians like Jarreau Vandal, Didi Han, MEMBA and Madstarbase as well as a multitude of freelance photographers, designers and writers. Our aim is to build connections, uplifting the community by uplifting the creatives who are a part of it.
We want to move beyond a linear ‘ownership’ mindset and tap into the power of collaborative ideas.
Art cannot be made in isolation. We believe that by connecting creatives with each other as well as brands, agencies and sponsors, we can weave collaborative webs that combine a variety of skill sets and services. This bridges the gap between art and commerce, building a sustained form of revenue for creatives and enabling them to work on topics close to them.
We want to tell human stories and give back to the causes associated with them.
WIP translates to works in progress. We’re all growing, changing and adapting to new realities everyday. Every success and struggle is unique in itself. Our platform is built without walls, borders and judgement, telling stories that represent a plethora of cultures and communities. We’re building a model that is also able to give back to these communities. If our digital content or merch reps a certain cause, a margin of the profit from the sales will go back to that particular cause. We hope to give back to a variety of causes using this model.
Working at WIP has been a fantastic, crazy, oscillating, hands-on learning experience and I’m so excited to see where this all goes.
To get involved with WIP fill out this form.
To shop our merch click here.