Ethically conscious label Arte-Alter is steering festive fashion towards essentialism
Global fashion may just be waking up to the need to be transparent about its production practises but some fair trade labels like Arte-Alter are much ahead in the game. The eco-friendly fashion and lifestyle label founded by textile designers Priyangsu Maji and Ambrish Kumar Jha has a new line-up that is basically a reminder of where our priorities lie, in fashion and elsewhere. So, you’ll spot a versatile line of khadi jamdani picks, some impeccably styled indigo discharge printed patch pockets etc as the collection is meant to usher in a more diverse sense of dressing, one that’s more continual and impactful.
“We firmly believe in creating impact, from the betterment of artisans in terms of health and safety, to empowering women weavers. Fifty percent of our artisans are women who work on their looms at home and are the daily wage earners. They are the ones who form the backbone of the micro and small scale industries,” Priyangsu and Ambrish tell us. But how is the label doing amid this unpredictable festive season? Let’s find out
Tell us about your approach to slow fashion
We believe in slowing down the process and not slowing down production. We are working towards bigger and better distribution channels and reach out to more people. We follow a fair trade system, it lets us the provide fair wages and to our artisans, and at the same time cut cost at every level and put a ‘believable price tag’ for all our products.
Tell us about the fabrics you usually use
For us comfort and care is key, and that is why we use fabrics made out of azo-free and natural dyed yarns, they are all natural yarns, like khadi, cotton, silk and linen. The yarns are handspun - hand spinning is an ancient textile art, in which fibres are drawn out and twisted together to form a yarn.
You are working with 30 hand weaving clusters in Bengal
Yes, each cluster has more than 20 textile hand weavers. The word sustainable refers to sustenance of nature, natural resources and human lives. As a sustainable, ethical and responsible brand, we are getting hand woven textiles from these weaving clusters and making apparels in our own garment manufacturing unit with these fabrics.
You are also training hand weavers…
Yes, artisans are usually limited to traditional designs, and do not have formal training in design or skill-development and therefore often reduce themselves to handicraft labourers. We enable artisans to develop a sustainable livelihood as we train our hand weavers towards newer innovation in textiles and help them create uncorrupted, sustainable fashion and lifestyle products
How has the pandemic affected your business?
The pandemic was so unexpected, we have postponed our planned projects for 2020 to 2021. Although the situation has started getting better, it has resulted in a major economic downturn which has definitely affected the buying pattern. Though we have a major online presence in three different portals, they also involve a heavy marketing budget. Presently we are running our workshop at 70 percent capacity and orders for our weavers are limited. The pandemic has hit our weavers the worst as they are facing reduced orders and slow payments from buyers, but we are expecting to get back on track with full force by December 2020.