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Why we must value our artisans

This may come across as a rant but it’s a well deserved one, I promise you, because it’s to protect people, their livelihood and their art.

I was listening to a fantastic podcast today by Business of Fashion in which Imran Ahmed and Christian Louboutin discussed his creations. I usually listen to podcasts whilst driving or doing chores around the house and whilst folding gym gear off the drying rack I suddenly stopped in my tracks.

Christian Louboutin spoke beautifully about the importance of protecting artisans. He spoke about the importance of craftsmen in his business, true artisans in their craft from all over the world, being inspired by different cultures, countries and traditions. He argued that if he had the choice to mass produce something for cheaper in another country or making just a few items with local artisans in a community, he would choose the latter, because it is to them that he owed the ideas in the first place and therefore would want to preserve their craft.

I loved hearing this because it chimes so truly with our values at More-Me, we produce in small quantities, because we want to honour the work that our artisans do and also because we don’t want to fill landfill. 

This conversation also reminded me of an exhibition I went to see on Chintz at the Fashion and Textile museum. Chintz is a woodblock printed, painted, stained or glazed calico textile that originated in Golconda (present day Hyderabad, India) in the 16th century. Chintz was originally imported from India in the 17th century when the Portuguese, French and English fell in love with it. In fact it was so wildly popular that both France and England banned it in order to protect their own textile industries. By the 1850s and with the industrial revolution European factories were able to create their own, cheaper version when the ban was lifted and this of course had a massive impact on the artisans in india. This might seem like a one off, but it isn’t in the fashion industry. It is, in fact, how the fashion industry survives. Couture often introduces ideas to the market with the help of artisans and ateliers in the craft and then brands mass produce some of those ideas in a way that can be purchased at a lower price by the everyday public. I have no problem with that and you won’t find my wardrobes full with couture gowns. But has this gone too far? Has our desire to find cheaper and cheaper alternatives devalued the beauty we are seeking in our clothes? I think that’s a personal question that each one of us has to answer.

All I can say is that we are trying to find a solution at More-Me by bringing you gorgeous Indian textiles that hold the artisans that create them at the front and centre of everything we do. Because if we don’t who will? Who will preserve their art? And I hope you help us.

Written by our founder, Roma Dhameja


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