An increasing number of fashion designers and brands are seeking to source products to high ethical standards in a way that makes a difference to communities and minimises impact on the environment. Until very recently, this has been a complex and difficult process for smaller brands. While there are thousands of community groups with unique skills and products, many of which are creating transforming lives for the communities they support, they frequently lack the skills and market knowledge to produce high end products. In the last 5 years however a new phenomenon has emerged: designers BRIDGING THE GAP by choosing to work in the supply sector: joining existing supplier groups or setting up their own production units, working to maximise benefits to communities while increasing capabilities to produce design led products.
In the first in our series on BRIDGING THE GAP we profile Mehera Shaw.
In 2007, Shari Keller, a designer and founder of the Mehera Shaw label, set up an ethical fashion house and private limited production company in Jaipur, India, with husband Mark. The unit offers production services for a number of private labels as well as their own, and is a pioneer in intercultural communication between the worlds of western design and small artisanal suppliers.
In this article, SOURCE writer Julia Wilber interviews Shari, finding out the motivations behind her work, the benefits and challenges of her approach, how she built a successful production model and her advice for others seeking to do the same.
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