Category: Studio JUX

BEHIND THE SEAMS: HIGH QUALITY ORGANIC COTTON KNITS MADE IN NEPAL

To see where the knitwear of the Studio JUX collections is made we visited their production partner in Kathmandu, where the kind manager Mr. Ram Singh showed us around the two factories. We spent the entire day with Tzering (the production manager of Studio JUX in Nepal) and Mr. Ram Singh, who patiently explained us everything we wanted to know about the production of knitted garments, organic cotton and the people working in the knitting factories. 

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All of those super soft organic cotton machine knits for the Studio JUX collections are made in the first factory we visited. We started on the ground floor with step 1; the knitting of the panels. The factory works with high tech knitting machines as well as hand knitting machines to knit the different panels of the garments. There are schedules for power network usage in Nepal, where certain areas can access the power network within certain time frames only. Therefore the factories need quite a bit of emergency power, which is provided more and more by solar panels in stead of batteries. Most of the factories we visited in Nepal and India are investing in sustainable energy. 

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When the panels are knitted on the high tech knitting machines only the yarns and patterns are manually put into the machines, whereas the hand knitting machines (mostly for the smaller orders and because they don’t need electricity!) are fully operated by people who move the machine from left to right and back again to knit the designed pattern. 

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For the next step we continued our way up to the first floor where the panels are linked together, a very precise job and this is where you see the amazing quality of the knitted Studio JUX pieces. It looks much nicer and creates a stronger product when the knitted panels are linked together and not sewn together.

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The next steps are the finishings by hand, the washing, ironing, and a thorough quality check of the product. The raw material wouldn’t actually need any washing because there aren’t any chemicals used. ‘The products are only washed because so many hands touch the product on it’s way to the end of the production chain.’ Mr. Ram Singh explains.

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The yarn which is used to produce those soft organic cotton fine knits in the Studio JUX collections is GOTS certified.

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We also spotted the beautiful jacquard knits for the FW16 delivery ready to be shipped. Mr. Ram Singh tells us about the amount of work and material that goes into producing a cardigan like this – for the fishbone cardigan in the Studio JUX FW16 collection 8kg per piece is needed!

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Mr. Ram Singh and his business partner run a second factory and this is where the hand knitted items of Studio JUX are made. We met a group of women gathered on the ground and chatting whilst hand knitting the more chunky styles. Often these hand knitted styles are made at the women’s homes. In this case the women pick up the material and design at the factory and finish the work at home so they can take care of their family at the same time. 

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It was great to visit the knitting factories in Kathmandu and to see the manufacturing process of knitted garments, learn more about organic cotton processing and chat about what makes a great quality knitted garment.

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Interesting fact is that for the manufacturing of a garment made of organic cotton a longer lead time is required. Why? Because the organic cotton is always last in line at the spinning mills where the raw material is spun into yarns, and these yarns are needed to produce the rest of the product. Organic cotton is last in line because unfortunately these are still always the least amounts that need to be processed and the bigger amounts of conventional cotton go first. Let’s call it growth pain, as we’re buying into more organic cotton we are slowly moving forward in line…..  

STUDIO JUX ACCESSORIES HANDMADE IN NEPAL

When we were in Nepal last month we visited Studio JUX’ own factory as well as JUX’ other production partners. It was great to meet the makers of the colourful and stylish handmade accessories that complement the Studio JUX collections each season. As it is Studio JUX’ mission to bring work and economic benefits to Nepal their accessory collections are made in the city of Kathmandu as well.

BEADS

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On a 2 minute stroll from the Studio JUX factory, the place where Studio JUX’ beaded jewelry is made, is located in a beautiful Nepali house with a garden overlooking Kathmandu valley. We were welcomed and shown around by founder and owner Ms. Nimdiki Sherpa.

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This passionate lady started her company 10 years ago to help Nepali women to be independent by providing them with a nice job. She currently employs 25 to 30 ladies, some of them working in this beautiful house in Kathmandu and others from their homes so they can take care of their families at the same time.

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The ladies we met like to dress up for a day at work – they looked so beautiful! Ms. Nimdiki Sherpa tells us that a lot of ladies want to work with her as the company provides good facilities. ‘Unfortunately there is only so much work.’

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The beads are bought from the local market and sometimes imported from India. Making a necklace can take up to four days. We saw the ladies at work, super concentrated – this job takes a lot of precision, skilled hands and patience, wow!

 

RECYCLED BRASS

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From the ladies to the gentlemen – After visiting the beautiful beads project we drove a few hours to see the recycled brass items being made in the workplace of Mr. Raj. Mr. Raj’s workshop is located in the so called ‘crafts area’ of Kathmandu. In this area you’ll find lots of small work spaces where people are carving wooden statues and instruments.

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Brass is made out of recycled metal from India. It consists of 70% copper and 30% zinc. Mr. Raj has been in the accessories business for 20 years and started his own company 5 years ago, employing 7 people from the area. Besides the brass jewellery items Mr Raj also makes the buttons for the Studio JUX garments, as Studio JUX tries to source everything as locally as possible.

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It was great to see how a piece of brass jewelry is made from a brass plate, which is then cut, hammered and finished by hand. Mind you, this is a precision job ladies & gentlemen!

STUDIO JUX FACTORY IN KATHMANDU

besuited-8On our second day in Nepal we visited the Studio JUX factory in Kathmandu. We started our business about the same time as Jitske en Carlien (the ladies behind this Amsterdam based True Fashion label) and have been friends ever since, so we heard many interesting stories about running a business in Nepal. That’s why we were so inspired to visit the factory ourselves. 

When Jitske (designer and founder of Studio JUX) set up the Studio JUX factory she and her boyfriend Philippe (a Belgium guy who grew up in Kathmandu and now the logistics manager of Studio JUX) lived in Kathmandu. Jitske used to manage the factory herself until they moved back to Amsterdam a few years ago – since then the factory is under Nepali management. 

besuited-1The second the taxi dropped us of in front of the all white factory we could already feel the Studio JUX vibe. The JUX factory is a 2 story building with a big roof terrace and a basement.  We started with a coffee and tea in the conference room and had a nice chat with Rohit and Tzering, who both talked passionately about their work at Studio JUX. They also explained us a lot of interesting things about Nepali culture and how they actually created more of a Nepali/Dutch culture mix in the Studio JUX factory nowadays. ‘We learned to think in a Dutch way’. besuited-2Tzering has been with Studio JUX for 5 years and is responsible for the production management. When she first set foot in the Studio JUX factory (which was then located somewhere else in Kathmandu) she was shocked by how clean the factory was. The topic of cleanliness and how nice it is to work in a clean environment came back several times in our conversations. And we have to say the factory is spic and span – we should really tidy our showroom as well when we get back! Jitske did such an awesome job in bringing the benefits of a clear and clean working environment to Nepal. ‘We’re sort of a Dutch company in Nepal’ Tzering explains. ‘And I am very thankful for Jitske to teach us to think in a Dutch way. She and Phil really learned us how to handle and spend money and how to work with people. From our side we try to learn this to the people who work in the factory as well.’ besuited-3In Nepal it is not so common to think about the future. People really live in the moment. We try to teach to the people to also save some of their salary for the future and not spent everything at once. In Nepal you have to calculate a margin to be in time for appointments, for production – for everything basically. For Nepali people it is really difficult to be in time but we manage quite well here in the factory. People are paid a decent salary and we have fixed working hours and breaks, and we have to get our orders ready in time of course. ‘We sometimes make jokes about it, with the sampling for example. We say it needs to be done in Holland time, not Nepali time – which means it needs to be done a lot quicker.’ Tzering is a very funny lady and we can tell they are having a lot of fun in running the Studio JUX factory, but both her and Rohit are very serious as well. ‘The work needs to be done in time and we supply the best quality garments in Nepal’ Tzering explains. besuited-7It was really nice to hear and see that the people in the factory are as proud to work for Studio JUX as we are. Tzering told us how much she appreciates the way her company helped the people in Nepal after the Earthquake. Jitske and Phil flew to Nepal as soon as they could after they heard about the devastating Earthquake that hit Nepal in April 2015. ‘They even helped other factories. It is really great to be working for a company which is always willing to help.’ When we asked Tzering how she felt about the Studio JUX handshake where people who buy something from the Studio JUX collection can meet the tailor who made it on the Studio JUX website, Tzering said she was really proud. ‘I could spend days just looking at our website, it looks so cool. And I show it to the tailors and tell them they are famous. They like that a lot!’ besuited-4Nobody said it was easy, and running a business in Nepal is everything but! A fashion business like Studio JUX needs to import (e.g. fabrics) and export goods (e.g. shippings to our Benelux customers), which is a struggle in Nepal as every now and then there are import and/or export restrictions and complicated paperwork. It is also hard to find skilled tailors in Nepal. One of the reasons for this is that a lot of young people tend to move to the Golf countries as they see more job opportunities for themselves there than in Nepal. Then there is the electricity scarcity, which the factory is solving sustainably by placing solar panels on the roof. Three solar panels have been installed on the roof already and in the future there will be enough to provide the entire factory with sufficient electricity. In the last 10 years around 60 to 70% of the factories in Nepal have closed their doors because of the country’s challenging conditions. But Studio JUX has been determined since the beginning to have their company succeed – for the people they came to love so much in Nepal and the importance of bringing business and opportunities there. besuited-6The Studio JUX factory felt like a big family, one where people work hard to create a high quality beautiful product. Like every family they have an uncle (that’s how they call the man who always wears a stylish suit and teaches his super skills to the others) a granny (a lady who has been working in the factory since the beginning, looks impeccable and tells the others to keep their workspace clean) and loving parents (the management taking care of everyone). In this JUX family everyone is equal. Like Tiering said; ‘We don’t care about cast or religion, we are all the same. Also when men want to work here we ask them if they are fine when they are asked to do something by a woman’. besuited-10We asked Tzering and Rohid what they would like to say to the people back home. ‘We make high quality fashion collections and we want to make the customers happy as they make us happy as well! If they are not buying, there wouldn’t be a factory either. By buying a Studio JUX piece you’re not just buying that single item, you are also providing work for 5 to 6 people in our factory. With having a factory in Nepal, Studio JUX helps the people in Nepal. A big thank you to all the Studio JUX supporters.’ 

DESIGNER JITSKE ABOUT PRODUCING IN NEPAL AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE

While working on the SS16 collection, Nepal and the Studio JUX factory in Kathmandu was hit by a devastating earthquake. Designer Jitske Lundgren flew to Nepal shortly after she heard the news last April. “The first few weeks we were only doing relief work and provided people with basic necessities such as tents and food. After that we slowly started the production in the factory again and did half a day of production, half a day of relief work.”

THE EARTHQUAKE IN NEPAL

On the 25th of April, Nepal was hit by a heavy earthquake. Studio JUX’ clothing factory is based in the capital, Kathmandu. The employees, neighbours, suppliers and their families need your and our help. On behalf of studio JUX’s foundation, studiojux.org, would like to ask for your support.

FABRIC UPDATE: MONOCEL – THE NEW AND BETTER BAMBOO

When most people talk about “bamboo textiles”, they are talking about bamboo viscose products. The viscose method for producing textile fibres is not environmentally friendly, as it is very chemical intensive. Also, the resulting fibres are short and, therefore, weak. Lyocell fibres, however, are long and strong. The fibre is stronger than cotton in both wet and dry condition. It is also very soft and smooth. This makes the Monocel fabrics suitable for a large number of applications.