A Reflection on India - 2019
Written on July 1, 2019, our journey imported from our old website <3
It's been almost four years since a man fell into a presumably unguarded vat of noxious chemicals and burned his pants off in the Hong Kong factory of a fashion company I was working for in NYC. 2015, 2 years after I graduated from Parsons. Other stories from those who had visited the factory rolled in slowly over the time I was working for this company - the workers were hurting themselves on the wire hangers they were using for rulers, there wasn't a real path to the factory but a clearing in a pile of rubble, the bathrooms were bad... I began to wonder- Had I gone to fashion school to help pollute the world? To make a heavy paycheck while someone making much less falls into chemicals for it? To make this profit for the company and myself while others aren't even able to have a hygienic restroom in their daily lives (probably as a result)? And for what in the end? Shitty jeans and tee shirts that the customer was paying $5 for then eventually tossing out.
From the blatant human rights violations to the lack of any artistry or consciousness whatsoever in the making of the garments, everything about working in that aspect of "fast fashion" was disgusting. Shortly after I heard about the man in the chemical vat, I googled "volunteer in India-textiles" and left that job. In early 2016 I went to India (Ahmedabad, Gujarat) in an attempt to put whatever I'd learned in school and in corporate fashion to good use. To help- or in the least, do no harm. I started this blog-cum-portfolio and potentially ecommerce page at that time. My one month trip turned into 6, I fell madly in love with India- her people, her culture, her TEXTILES. She called me back many times and now I am building a life there.
As it's been 3 years since first seeing mother India, oftentimes I lose sight of my own process and get caught in the confusion of time. Many designers seem to appear in the country and a few months later have a fashion line. My process has been one of travel and connection; meeting like-minded people all over the country and exploring what it means to be a maker in the age of simultaneous sustainability as necessity and artisan textile revival. What does it mean to use a virgin textile when so many textiles already exist, what does it mean to support the SOUL and culture of Maa India, which shines through her handmade crafts- which could completely die of there is no market for them. What does it mean to be a conscious creator AND consumer, to have reverence for and find oneness in both perspectives?