Mix and Match Tibetan Fashion

  • Maureen Fetscher
  • 19 Aug, 2010

I just ended a week in Kathmandu working with our new fair trade partners on Spring 2011 designs.  I got so inspired by the colorful Nepali street fashion!  It's a total parade of mix and match prints for the ladies, many of which are Tibetan, and the men wear the cutest traditional hats in hand-woven prints...Nepal is colorful in a different way than India and it is definitely influencing my design process.

I loved getting to know our new fair trade partners in Kathmandu. The pic below shows Sumitra, the head designer (right),and Anu, her assistant and chief pattern

maker (left).

One of the neat things about our Kathmandu co-op is that the head pattern maker is a woman. In India at our other two women's cooperatives I've noticed that this position is filled by a man. Even when all the seamstresses and designers are women, for some reason the pattern maker is always a man.  I have a hunch this is because pattern making is highly skilled trade and traditionally anything having to do with tailoring is a man's line of work in India.  Anyways, I think it's pretty cool that the head pattern maker at our Kathmandu co-op is a lady - nothing like breaking the gender barriers!

I found out the pattern maker Anu's story.  Anu's mother was a widow, and when she was young her mother took her to live at an ashram near the co-op.  The ashram takes in women in need and provides them with a place to live and also job training.  They also have a school for the deaf.  That is where the co-op comes in. Over the years they have worked closely with the ashram to develop a two year training program to give the ashram women job skills.  After the women complete their two year program they are offered work at the co-op, and that is how Anu got connected.  The co-op saw her talent right away and paid for her education to go to design school and now she is the chief pattern maker!

Here are some pics of the production unit stitching our new Fair Trade trousers for Fall!

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