Colourful sari scarves from my photoshoot last week



Sari scarf initiative with RIDE finally takes off!

The sari scarf initiative has finally taken off! After receiving interest from one of RIDE’s supporters to sell our products in their home countries a few months ago, we have since pushed forward with the project and began production.

Since the beginning of the year the Scarf Project team have been trying out different styles, techniques and fabrics looking for the best saris to make into scarves. The idea is to provide employment to some women from the local villages and pay a fair wage for their work (we pay twice the going rate for their sewing skills). Vasantha has been involved with RIDE for over 20 years on various projects. She has had a difficult life with her husband leaving her very soon after marriage. The nature of her culture meant that she did not remarry and therefore has no children. Having lost her own parents she now spends time looking after her nieces and nephews and helping others. In her spare time Vasantha has been teaching ladies in her village how to sew to earn a bit of extra income. She now acts as co-ordinator for the project, distributing work among the ladies and managing the production of the scarves. Britto, director of RIDE, manages the financial side and oversee the project.

At the weekend the team completed their first big batch of 250 scarves. These went off to the US with Olivia (the above mentioned RIDE supporter), who has been staying at RIDE for the past week to collaborate on the project and oversee the production of her order. We appreciated getting feedback on the scarves and are very happy to have Olivia on board. Olivia will now take on the US sales and distribution of the scarves.

I will be taking on the UK sales and distribution of the sari scarves, therefore if you have any enquiries please feel free to contact me.

We have also set up a small shop at RIDE so that we can offer tourists passing through the opportunity to view and buy the products, which includes scarves from this project as well as other items sourced from local producers. Visit RIDE’s website for more information on women’s empowerment and this project.

Exhibition: Cotton, a way forward

Last weekend I attended the ‘Cotton – A way forward‘ exhibition at Maison Colombani in Pondicherry. The wonderful French colonial town of Pondicherry, where the pace slows down (provided you stick to the French quarter and avoid the town centre), and where we have our periodic fix of steak, red wine and chips, with breakfast of fresh breads and home-made jam!

The Kapas organic cotton project, which has culminated in this exhibition, is an initiative founder by Upasana Design Studio. Their aim has been to create a sustainable, ethical, end to end process from farm to product. Working directly with small scale cotton farmers, dyers and weavers and showcasing the most sustainable methods to promote the best way forward. The exhibition is intended to reach out, raise awareness, and encourage others to question where their cotton comes from.

I will be visiting Upasana and interviewing their Kapas representative in the coming weeks to discuss the project and how it has helped farmers to convert to organic. This will feed into an article I am writing for Ethical Fashion Forum.

I’ve picked out a few points from the exhibition which I feel are especially relevant. The most poignant for me personally is the idea that we need to raise the value of the khadi hand-loom fabrics in India. These products should again be appreciated for their values, uniqueness and properties. In society today, hand-loom can not compete with power-loom fabric, but it should not have to. A piece of hand made fabric will appeal to a different market entirely and with the right marketing and product development there is no reason why they can not be valued for their aesthetic and cultural relevance.

For further information on the project visit the Paruthi Blog or the Kapas website.