The Fair Fashion: From Chittapur to Berlin
For over a year now, whenever I board the U-Bahn at Kurfürsten Straße, I see a billboard beside the train tracks with a short text about the unfair working conditions for women in factories in China, India and Bangladesh. These factories are major producers for several international clothing brands - including German ones, and not just those we read about in the press - who outsource their manufacturing processes to these countries and pay ridiculously low wages. The economic divide is growing, and the solution with the fewest flaws is fair trade. There are a lot of companies, big and small, following several different fair trade models but this particular Berliner Start-up is trying something much better.
Jyoti – Fair Works is a social enterprise which aims to empower Indian women through the production of fair trade clothing. They have set up their own sewing facilities in Chittapur, India, where they train women in modern sewing techniques and then offer them permanent jobs with very fair wages. The clothing produced in these facilities is then sold all over Europe at reasonable prices. The earnings enable the funding of literacy and educational programs with the emphasis on women's labor rights in India.
One thing that separates Jyoti from other companies is that they view the production crew as their partners, not their employees, which reflects their philosophy that Jyoti - Fair Works is not about profit. As an extension of this, while purchasing their fabrics, they pay close attention to ecological and fair manufacturing processes. If possible, they prefer to support smaller and local fabric businesses, dealers and merchants. The textile industry is known for its nontransparent value chain creation and its constant search for the "cheapest" place of production. The resulting labor conditions are often inhuman and have devastating effects. Jyoti - Fair Works aims to demonstrate this problematic ecosystem and prove that attractive fashion can be both ecological and fair. This brings satisfaction to both consumers and producers.
#WEARASTORYThe idea here is to focus on people rather than products, and this makes the concept very unique. Jyoti - Fair Works would like to take you on a journey - a journey shaped by people, ideas and processes, to produce clothing that tells a story; the story of the people behind it. Working closely with Sarah, a fashion designer, a collection is planned for summer 2015.
Jyoti - Fair Works on StartnextJyoti wants the new summer collection to be produced on-site in India. This is an ambitious goal, and like anything ambitious, it requires resources. At the moment, they are running a very successful crowdfunding campaign on Startnext seeking resources for the upcoming “Wear A Story” summer 2015 collection. By contributing, you will get a beautiful handmade dress of your choice. If you would like to be part of the story, here is the link to their campaign.
The people behind the project:Jeanine: founder of Jyoti – Fair Works and currently an assiduous student in London.
Caroline: co-founder of Jyoti – Fair Works and creative designer.
Christian: aspiring industrial engineer and Jeanine's childhood friend.
Carolin: industrial engineer and talented seamstress.
By Daniyal Waseem