In our last post we talked about where Here Today Here Tomorrow started and how we have developed our ideologies and philosophies of sustainable approaches to fashion throughout the Fashion and the Environment MA and in the years since then. The journey so far has been exciting, and a lot of hard work!
In this post we would like to talk more about our experience of setting up a fair trade label, and what the future holds for this. For us, design and fashion mean so much more than simply aesthetic or current trends. People, materials, traditions, and crafts, nature, beauty, diversity and connection with cultures from around the world are all combined and significantly contribute towards our understanding and appreciation of fashion. When we decided in 2011 to start our own label we were committed to finding a fair trade group to work with, joining all these elements.
Having previously travelled in Nepal, Anna and Emma returned in 2011 and met with the Association for Craft Producers (ACP) in Kathmandu. We have been building on this relationship with ACP since that visit, developing collections that combine our contemporary design aesthetic with their craft skills and traditional production methods. Earlier this year Anna returned to delve even deeper into the diverse skill sets of the wonderful craftspeople in and around Kathmandu. She watched woodworkers carve printing blocks and printers using these blocks to create unique textiles. She travelled to villages on the outskirts of Kathmandu and saw weavers working on treadle looms in their homes and knitters developing designs for our new AW13 collection.
Within the community of people working with ACP there was a great sense of collaboration and of working for a common cause – ensuring continued sustainable livelihoods and opportunities for some of the poorest people in the world. Fair trade organisations like ACP are crucial for recognizing the value of traditional craft skills and of their native craftspeople and connecting them with brands like ours who will reach a much wider audience and have a customer base who are looking for beautiful products ethically made.
Throughout Anna’s visit it was clear to her the importance of supporting traditional crafts and ensuring the continuation of their use, keeping the skills alive for future generations. In particular she was introduced to a traditional method of Nepalese weaving known as Dhaka. She was amazed to find that these beautiful textiles were hidden away, not usually shown to visitors. Due to a decline in demand the tradition of Dhaka weaving is at risk of being lost, despite representing world class textile craftsmanship. Anna was delighted to discover that ACP have been looking for a suitable group to collaborate with to use the Dhaka fabrics and re-establish the production of this textile.
Although in the very early stages of development, we are so excited to be a part of this process, working collaboratively with the fair trade group in Nepal to bring new life to their native craft. Over this next year our aim is to develop a capsule collection that incorporates the Dhaka textiles, showcasing the beauty and aesthetics of the fabrics, designing a collection that is both respectful of the Dhaka tradition whilst contributing our own contemporary take on it allowing the craft to revive and evolve.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about what we do, and our thanks to CSF for giving us this opportunity. Here’s to another fantastic 5 years!
-Anna-Maria, Emma, Julia and Katelyn