8 minute read
Slow clothing is a meaningful indulgence and a beautiful way of life. In a world flooded with fast fashion merchandise that is discarded as quickly as it’s purchased, we invite everyone to slow down and cherish garments that are made slowly and deliberately by artisans. At aeshaane, we have put a lot of thought into handcrafting each piece with utmost care, dedication and patience. Incredible things are done simply by hand because we believe there is value in what we are trying to achieve. It’s organic and slow, that's our core strength. It’s amazing how things handcrafted with love, exude a sublime vibe that resonates with you. You can actually feel it when you touch the fabric, it’s like having a meaningful conversation with a happy weaver who‘s hand slowly spun the yarn, or the artisan who hand blocked the piece for you; After all, 'Things of beauty have no fear of time'!
At aeshaane -
At aeshaane, we strive for transparency in the entire length of the supply chain, right from sourcing the raw materials to the final product you buy. Transparency is the first step, the most essential part of being a conscious business and mitigating our carbon footprint. We want to share as much information and traceability of our products with you, to increase awareness of our processing. Supply chains can be very daunting and overwhelming, but they are very important to gauge the ethical production of a product. A supply chain is a network of all the different people and teams involved in different stages of the production cycle, to create the final product. The creation of a product always starts with the raw material. In fashion, this can easily mean tonnes of synthetic fabric made from fossil fuels. However illogical it might sound, the origin of such fabrics is hard to trace.
At aeshaane, we work towards full supply chain transparency which means we know exactly where and how the materials in our collections are produced. We have a very short supply chain with 4 simple stages to produce the end product. This includes rearing the silk, spinning the yarn, weaving the fabric and hand-printing it, before we sell it to end consumers. At each stage, we know exactly who spun the fabric, who weaved it and who printed it for you, and we are on a first name basis with each one of them. ‘Meet the makers’ here.
The dyes that we use are AZO-free and non-toxic, with low environmental impact. Most fast fashion brands have complicated supply chains, due to which they subject major cost cuts, since they want to produce their clothes as cheaply as possible. The easiest way is to lower salaries, which then leads to hazardous working conditions, where workers need to work longer hours to make enough money. A brand should thus prioritize the working environment to label themselves as sustainable. That is why, at aeshaane, we see ethical production as a prerequisite: a worker should be able to earn a fair living wage without having to work unbearable hours in an unhealthy environment.
At aeshaane, all our artisans
In a world of hashtags, algorithms, likes and followers, I feel what is truly important is human connection. I realised that the business of business is building and nurturing relationships and thanks to my artisans I chose humanity over machinery. By buying from us you are helping our artisans nurture their small dreams, like being able to send their children to school or send money home to their village. So each time you wear aeshaane, remember the happy smiles that you have put on their faces, made a difference in the lives of their children and families. Your support helps us in creating more job opportunities for the craftsmen and help them live better and more meaningful lives. The Ahimsa is a common thread of solidarity that ties all of us together. Each piece bears the stamp of hundreds of hours of painstaking craftsmanship of the hands that make.
"It isn't enough to look for quality in the products we buy, we must also ensure quality in the lives of the people who make them"
- Orsola de Castro (Designer and Co-founder, Fashion Revolution)
Every low price has a human cost. Prices tell the truth about what is hidden behind the manufacturing processes. We are transparent about prices, because we believe that by understanding what composes the true cost of a product, you can better understand how a small company like ours operates. Whenever you buy from us, you are adding meaning to the lives of the artisans who make your clothes, instead of buying cheap machine made alternates, that are just going to add to the landfill after one time wear. Since slow clothing is extremely labour intensive and the supply chain is completely transparent and sustainable, it’s hard for small businesses to slash prices to match their counterparts. So the value you pay is actually fair and goes into supporting the little dreams and livelihood of our artisans. We do not inflate prices to discount and sell them at special low sale prices. Instead we focus on making high quality products that forge relationships with clients, who recommend us and come back. We believe consumers have the power to create change, by demanding ethically made products. Our practices support safe work environments and fair wages. Our founding purpose was simple but powerful, to provide fairly-paid, dignified and sustainable livelihood to artisans, with the objective of empowering them to achieve economic independence and create better lives for themselves. Behind each piece is a family and a whole ecosystem which benefits directly or indirectly from the sale of our products. We pay all our artisans fair wages above the established norm, for any work they do. Besides, we also take care of their housing benefits, health care, food and safe drinking water. The income generated from every product you buy, helps us reinvest back into the artisan communities.
"There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger & unhappiness."
- Mahatma Gandhi
The garment industry is estimated to be the second largest employer of women in the world. Many of our women artisans work from home, long before ‘WFH’ became the new normal. Working from home means no need to commute, that means they can seamlessly integrate family life with their job. This tremendously reduces the risk faced while working in hazardous work environments such as large garment factories, or being exploited for longer working hours. They feel safe and more productive at home than anywhere else! Women are born multitaskers, hence they balance any additional workload with ease along with their routine chores. The dignified earnings ensures that they can help out with household expenses, like funding their child’s education, better health care or alleviating poverty. At aeshaane, we’re surrounded by strong women who are integral to our success. From the very beginning till now, we’ve been thriving because of our women artisans. When women support women, amazing things happen and behind every successful women there is a tribe of other successful women. Meet my tribe who have my back!
“I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard”
- Malala Yousafzai
Growth is never by mere chance, it’s the culmination of forces working together! For me this is synonymous with Shalini, who holds the fort while I am away. Like every woman simply born to multi task, she doubles and triples as my store in-charge, administrator, accountant and most of all a second mother to my daughter. Equipped with never ending to-do lists, she shows excellent leadership qualities and is a natural mover and shaker. She lights up the room with her 100 watt smile and is ready to take on the world with the same zest day every single day! Always in control of things, she is a born leader. Today, as I see aeshaane’s dream of empowering women taking shape, I wish that more and more women choose to have power not over men, but over themselves.
When we asked Shabnam about why ‘Kapda Bunai’ (cloth weaving) continues to enrich her life, she describes how fondly her mother had taught her how to weave the fabric. It’s been the only source of livelihood for her entire family for the past two decades. So, Peace silk is not just a piece of cloth, it’s a piece of their rich tradition, of a sacred relationship between mother and daughter, of learning and sharing that must be passed on.
There are many spinning techniques, but in Assam, the spindle remains the one indispensable tool. The traditional technique is to use the ‘Takuri’ or the drop spindle with a weight. But, our artisans use the time-honoured ‘Charkha’ or the spinning wheel. “The state of mind can easily affect the quality of the yarn. Spinning is like saying a prayer and it’s always been the perfect way of life for me!” she says.
Shahnaz weaves the soulful cloth by using traditional wooden looms. The threads in the warp and weft have to be set by using spools, which is quite cumbersome and can easily take about 18 - 20 man hours per loom. “Weaving this piece of cloth is profound and holistic, it has removed the emptiness from my life. It’s almost ironical how these empty cocoons have filled our lives with meaning, vision and a sense of purpose”.
Our Peace silk fabrics are a completely handmade artisan product, created in small batches, produced with the mesmeric attention to detail. We work in small batches which means less waste. Each piece has taken at least a week to produce, excluding the harvesting and printing, making it truly ethical and eco-friendly, a small luxury item with a soul. There is an entire army of rural artisans behind creating each piece. It starts with the Adhivasis (Tribals) who rear the moths in natural wilderness, to our multitaskers - women who wake up in the wee hours of the morning to spin yarn from the cocoons, weavers who take several days to work their magic on traditional looms, hands that carve the wooden blocks, and ultimately the printers who painstakingly place one block repeatedly after another creating patterns, that lend the final touches to making each piece unique and caressed in its own special way by experienced artisanal hands. Read about what goes on ‘Behind the scenes’ here.
Benefits of traditional loom weaving:
We are in the largest global garbage crisis of our lifetime, which means that every garment you have used, currently exists somewhere on the planet! Every bit of effort helps us move towards a more circular economy. At aeshaane, our work respects people and planet. We produce in smaller quantities avoiding overproduction, which ensures there is less wastage. We have a very short supply chain, which means a reduced carbon footprint and are fully transparent about where we produce and how we make our products. This is a great example of being sustainable – you don’t always have to look for big International brands, you can start with lesser known labels within your own cities.
Most brands work with seasonal collections, where the downside is that a lot goes to waste. Products end up in the sale at the end of the season and eventually in the bin! We wanted to change that cycle, step away from fast fashion. By making timeless designs, it's possible to keep a core collection, without having to change it every season. We occasionally host sample sales, where we offer a discount on products that deserve a loving home, as well as pieces with small but unique imperfections. Since our inception in 2008, we’ve only made one new collection every year.
Our ‘Alu scarves’ for example have been part of our collection and bestsellers since 2013. A host of other designs are still relevant today, but that doesn't mean we do not add new styles each year. To keep our collection manageable and to prevent overstock, we look at our range with a keen eye every year and discontinue few designs. This means that, if you’ve ended up with one of them, you now have a collector's item in your wardrobe!
Child labour is still rampant in India. The ‘Fast fashion’ model has had a huge impact! Children are being put to work in all stages of the supply chain. Clothes shopping used to be an occasional event, something that happened a few times a year or if we outgrew what we had. But about ten years ago everything changed. Clothes became cheaper, trend cycles sped up and enter ‘Fast Fashion’ – cheap, trendy clothing, that turns garments at breakneck speed thus impacting not only the people and planet but children! Each time you buy these cheap clothes, you are indirectly encouraging these practices, so make sure you know who is making your clothes. At aeshaane, we pride ourselves in supporting our artisans with dignified livelihoods that enables them to send their little children to school and afford better health care. Seen are school children from ‘Rising Star Outreach’, an organisation that spearheads and supports Leprosy affected families and their children, on a playful exploration trip to our workshop, to dream differently and expand horizons!
“Education is the best weapon through which we can fight poverty and ignorance!”
- Malala Yousafzai
Packaging can play a huge role in the sustainability of a product. Once you finish using the product, this is what remains. It is in fact what generates the most waste. Hence, we pack our garments in recycled cloth bags for easy storage and encourage using sustainable alternatives for gifting such as our ‘Fabric wraps’.