For Autumn Winter 2017, People Tree has designed a unique and feminine eight piece capsule collection in conjunction with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Inspired by the 1930’s, this limited edition collection is based on fashionable patterns of the era, celebrating the heritage of the thirties with a contemporary twist. Key to the collection are romantic long and lean shapes with subtle ruffle details. The prints are based on dress fabrics from 1934, originally by the Calico Printer’s Association in Manchester, England and are now held in archive at the V&A Museum.
Seed print story features four designs in 100% organic certified cotton – a ruffle dress, ruffle back shirt, coat dress and wide leg trouser.
Tulip print story features four designs in 100% Tencel® – ruffle back jumpsuit, smock dress, peplum top and maxi skirt. Tencel® is a luxury cellulose fibre made from wood pulp. The fibre production is extremely eco-friendly due to the closed loop manufacturing system used.
All styles of the collaboration are made by Creative Handicrafts, based in India. Founded in 1984, this dynamic organisation helps low income women in the slums of Mumbai achieve economic independence by training and creating jobs.
Delivery in July 2017.
Blogger Anna Katina shows that sustainable fashion is easy to style, also on holiday. By wearing People Tree and Wunderwerk on her trip to Malaga, she definitely rocks the perfect summer looks. The Bryony stripe dress and Maia stripe shorts of People Tree are the go to styles upcoming season and a must have to bring on your trip to the sun and beach.
Mumbai, known as the financial centre of India, but also a city of immense poverty. Roughly half of the metropolitan area’s 22 million people live in informal settlements, or slums.
Although India is developing fast, the increased wealth doesn’t reach the poorest of the poor. One of the causes is social discrimation, still rooted in the country’s culture.
One of People Tree‘s production partners, Creative Handicrafts, is a social enterprise founded in the slums of Mumbai with the aim to build sustainable communities where respect for people is held high and there is no differentiation based on caste, gender or religion.
We visited the Creative Handicrafts Head quarters, which moved to a nice office building in Mumbai 5 years ago and a few of the production facilities still located in the slums.
Mr. Johny Joseph joined Creative Handicrafts in 1999 and explained us a bit more about the history of Creative Handicrafts first.
Creative Handicrafts was founded by Sister Isabel Martin, who during her work in Mumbai felt the suffering of the women, uneducated and unemployed. She felt the best way to help people overcome poverty was to provide them with the opportunity to work. In 1984, she started Creative Handicrafts, training poor women to make toys, bags and home textiles.
Today, Creative Handicrafts provides training to the women to produce garments and fabric handicrafts and to market their goods to earn a living.
Creative Handicrafts currently employs over 300 women. Before the ladies start in the so-called Cut, Make and Trim departments they get a 6 months training to learn all the tailoring skills.
A lot of women want to work with Creative Handicrafts but there are two criteria, which might sound a bit odd, but unfortunately this is the situation for a lot of women living in Indian slums. These criteria are that the women: 1. Have a difficult life situation and 2. Have no skills.
This difficult life situation often hasn’t only to do with being poor and living in the slums but also with the fact that they have an abusive husband or a husband with an alcohol problem. It’s important for these women to be able to take care of themselves and their families, without being dependant on their husbands.
Women who do not make the grade as tailors aren’t sent back on the streets but they are trained in cooking to join The Lunch Box Catering Project. This project is supplying lunches to hundreds of office workers around Mumbai. The Lunch Box Catering Project is located in the Creative Handicrafts Head Quarters, which houses a professional kitchen.
The Creative Handicrafts HQ is very modern and they work with the newest textile techniques.
‘Fair Trade or not, it’s trade!’ Mr. Johny Joseph explains. ‘We can not compromise on quality, nor on style or delivery.’
‘When I started here in 1999 it was a question of make or break and we had to change the kind of products we were making to be able to guarantee the demand from our international customers and our long term growth.’
People Tree started to work with Creative Handicrafts in 2011 and together they have developed a new organic cotton collection.
To guarantee the quality all of the product development, pattern and sample making is done at the Creative Handicrafts HQ by highly skilled tailors and garment techs. From here the pattern parts and technical drawings are divided over the cooperations in the slums.
When we were there they were working on the latest People Tree collection, made of the sustainable fabric Tencel®.
This fabric is new for Creative Handicrafts and People Tree is currently running a crowdfund campaign to start a production line of this new innovative fabric at Creative Handicrafts.
Working with Tencel® is a chance to up skill the workers and provide them with a greater range of fabrics they can offer to their clients, providing more business opportunities and, eventually, more job opportunities within the community.
The cooperatives where the actual production takes place are located in the slums.
‘It’s a terrible logistic nightmare of course but it’s so valuable to be there’. ‘We want to reach the women where they are and it’s important for the women to be able to stay close to their families.’ Mr. Johny Joseph explains:
Many of the hundreds of women who work for Creative Handicrafts are the main bread winners for their families.
Creative Handicrafts runs a crèche, providing day care for the toddlers of working mothers living in the slums.
Being in the slums and facing poverty straight in the eye we had a very open discussion with Mr. Johny Joseph about whether the women are really able to work their way out of poverty. Even if they receive a fair wage…..
His honest answer was no; ‘It’s still not enough, even though it is Fair Trade. You have to realise that the background the women come from is not so great and they still receive low wages. You have to imagine that most of the time they live in a room of two by two meters in a not so nice environment, not suitable for studying for example. Working for a fair wage gives them an opportunity to be able to besides feeding their families rent a small house (still in the slums but safe and ‘private’) for their family. Their children can go to school, these are English schools and good schools – my children go to the same schools. Basically earning a fair wage enables them to give their children a better chance for a future out of poverty.’
Further reads and information about Creative Handicrafts and People Tree:
- Only seven days left to support People Tree’s crowdfunding campaign to help up skill Creative Handicrafts even further
- People Tree: Who makes our products
- The fashion brand which changed the way we dress
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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!
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.
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.
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!
Today we visited the Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS) in Kathmandu, Nepal. KTS has been a long time production partner of True Fashion label People Tree. The beautiful hand knitted jumpers and cardigans in the People Tree collections are made by KTS. The son of the founder, MR. Kiran Khadgi and now director of the organization welcomed us in his office and proudly explained us everything about the history of KTS.
KTS was originally set up by his father, a dedicated freedom fighter to help pode people, the so-called ‘untouchable’ caste in Nepal. Those born into the pode caste are expected to clean the sewers and streets of the areas inhabited by higher castes for no more than scraps of leftover food. The discrimination that keeps these people out of other forms of work even affects children, who may drop out of primary school because they are unable to fit in. Until recently, pode children did not go to school at all.
People Tree works with KTS to provide training and design support. Hand knitting not only makes a unique and beautiful product, it also provides women with the opportunity to work. Many of the artisans at KTS are mothers and university students who use their income to finance their – and their children’s – education and living costs. Mr Khadgi explained that KTS wants to create an environment where people feel safe and welcome and take care of each other. Not only with providing jobs and economic benefits but also with important educational programs and things like health insurances for all the people who work at KTS.
Women who want to become a skilled hand knitter are offered a 3 months course by KTS. The women who work in the KTS office can bring their children to the in house daycare centre or when they are older to the school. Some women come and pick up their work at the KTS office and do the hand knitting work at home. In the more rural areas a group leader makes sure the hand knit orders are divided amongst the ladies who work on the ordered hand knit styles from their homes.
In addition to providing good jobs for thousands of people, KTS puts profits from Fair Trade back into community development. KTS supports an orphanage and a school providing an education to over 250 children from low-income families. KTS provides underprivileged women, disabled people and widows with vocational training and job opportunities. KTS provides medical and social support and offers children’s and adult’s literacy classes.
We are incredibly inspired by the work of this Kathmandu based non profit organisation and are proud to be working with them. We already loved the hand knit styles they make for the People Tree collections and now even more so after seeing with our own eyes how much good can be accomplished when organisations look further than economic gain only – especially in a country like Nepal, which is one of the poorest countries in the world.