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Fair-trade and sustainability in India

// 1st year MDes Transcultural Design students - India Studio

"Khadi" originally refers to handwoven cloth. Encouraged by Gandhi, this movement started in 1920’s and soon became a statement against the British government.

Cotton Rack’s products combine cultural heritage with eco-responsability and artisanal communities building.

The key to change is to raise awareness of all the benefits of making socially conscious purchases.

The India Studio students working with Cotton Rack’s Founders, Rameshwari Kaul and Vinayak Sharma.

From the cotton root to the cotton rack: educating consumers to the idea of being eco-friendly and sustainable.

Cotton Rack

Cotton Rack is a homegrown, Jaipur based premium & ethical Indo-Western lifestyle brand with Khadi at its core. The brand was started in 2014 out of a personal need for grounded & socially responsible clothes & a deep love for Khadi. Their designs amalgamate the tactile & visual appeal of Khadi with interesting silhouettes and minimal details. Cotton Rack believes in not only adding value to fabric but also to the lives of weavers, wearers and the environment.

It is interesting to understand that while consumers appreciate the cultural heritage of hand crafted products, they fail to understand the true beauty of them. Hand crafted products are usually eco-friendly, help build artisanal communities and limits migration for work. This failure to understand this leads to two scenarios, both of which hamper the growth of the craft and the artisan:

• Machine replication of hand crated products – which slowly kills the craft skill;
• Mass/limited production of hand crafted products – where artisan is negotiated for best’ price.

Worskshop scope

Rana Plaza disaster woke the world to realities of poor wages prevalent in fashion industry. Since then there has been a significant growth in the section of people who desire socially conscious products. While this is heartening, we are far from the goal of making consumers empathetic to cause of artisans.

A change of heart can be brought about by educating the consumers about ideas of fair-trade, sustainability, etc. Fair-trade being a consumer driven movement and can only be achieved by educating the consumer about the need of making socially conscious purchases and feel good about it.

Expected tangible workshop outcomes

Students had a two-fold approach in solving this problem:

1) Create visual campaign to educate the consumers about benefits of fair-wages, sustainability and conscious purchase. This could be in the form of posters, pamphlets, social media, videos etc
2) Create packaging material which re-enforce the idea of being eco-friendly and sustainable. They could be designed with graphics and text supporting the cause. We could also choose to develop an alternative to poly bags which are a must-use in packaging but hazardous to environment.

Cotton Rack was open to students ideas but fixated with the result of educating consumers to create better living opportunities for hand-loom and handicraft artisans.


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