Earlier this month, we launched #FabricOfLife, a campaign to make sure that the hands that make our clothes, jewellery, home accessories, are less impacted by the negative effects of Covid-19. So many of you have shown your support by shopping locally, and ensuring that the money you spend is used towards keeping India’s design community alive.
Last year, as India was gripped by the first wave of the pandemic, a mass exodus of highly skilled karigars returned home to their villages. With no jobs for months, they were left without a daily income. Many had to take up jobs that they had no knowledge of, while others waited a long wait for things to turn back to some kind of “normal” again.
And then in April, we began to see a repeat of last year’s horrific events. Foreseeing a similar scenario, where skills learnt over generations could be lost, it is imperative that we, as consumers, designers, and purveyors of fashion, do our bit, to keep this #FabricOfLife... alive.
How does #FabricOfLife work?
For every item bought from our #VocalForLocal brands, the amount spent will go directly to the designer to provide for their craftspeople. Le Mill will be forgoing all their profits and commissions on their homegrown brands.
How long will the initiative run for?
Till the end of May.
How do I know which brands to support?
While we have over 50 labels within our #VocalforLocal edit, here are some brands that can tell you how shopping local can help pay it forward. From the business models they adopt, to how the money is deployed to positively impact the design community—six labels weigh in on how they’re keeping the fabric of life alive.
Rina Singh - Designer of Eka
“At Eka, for the past 10 years, we have continued to work with the same weavers and block printers in the country. To make sure that they have a sustained stream of work, we have to consistently work with certain crafts season after season. For example, I can’t work with block printing and handwoven one season and then jump to crepe that I bought from China for the next. Giving them a minimum amount of employment over the years has been our business model. A weaver family that works with us makes INR 20,000 a month, on a minimum. It depends on the kind of production they are doing, how successful the collection has been abroad. The last two seasons have suffered very badly, but we continue to give them work so that there is some amount of sustenance and accountability that is built in for them through us. When you shop with our domestic retail partners, we make sure we plug that back into our back end which is the whole network of weavers and artisans we work with, across the country.”
Shejal Bindal - Production Designer of Agaro Jewels
“Agaro Karkhana is a place where each hand-crafted piece of our jewellery is like a story coming to life where our artisans breathe life into gold and meenakars further add their captivating touch of enamel. This pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone. Especially for our artisans, as many of them are not getting the quantum of jobs they used to, to support their families. Many have been forced to leave this age-old craft to take up other jobs for lower wages. There is a way where one can support and revitalize the spirits of our community of karigars. Every purchase of Agaro jewellery will help the artisans to continue doing what they love doing, and to carry on this cherished artform which has been passed down from generations.”
Ravi Vazirani - Founder of Qit.A
“A lot of these handmade techniques are time consuming and expensive, hence the karigars/artisans give into using machines which have a faster turnaround time. Each sale which results in further production requirements re-enforces their belief in their skill set. It encourages the artisans to better their skills.”
Rajvi Chokshi - Jewellery and Marketing consultant for Moksh
“Even before this pandemic hit, Rs. 2500 from every sale we made was given to Each One Teach One. EOTO works towards the holistic development of underprivileged children. This additional contribution that Moksh has committed to will go towards securing apparatus and medical supplies that are currently not easy to secure. We are a 150-person organisation and have always provided all the necessary social benefits for our team members. These funds will go towards a corpus to ensure that we are equipped in every way. Our artisans have always been the backbone of all our innovation and product.”
Vritima Wadhwa - Creative Head, Project 810
“We at Project 810 have focused on celebrating the value of handmade and skills of our craftsmen. Generating designs that will support and empower our long tradition of craftsmanship has been integral for us. There’s an absolute sense of joy when something is made by hand or has that sense of culture in it. We currently employ a team of 50 karigars and only hope to uplift this community further.”
Jewellery Advisor Arundhati De-Sheth
“There are a variety of ways we would like to assist the jewellery karigars engaged in making the pieces. One way is to buy O2 concentrator equipment, which will be sent to the house of the karigar who is in need of the same. We will offer free vaccination drives for all karigars, along with their family members, and we hope to provide annual health Covid-specific insurance policy per karigar and his family.
These artisans have been in the jewellery making aspect of the trade for sometimes 2-3 generations. This is all that they really know how to do, and what they want to do."