The Making of the Class of '71 Scarf by Lee Flournoy
Sustainability meets Art meets Worker Ethics
OR How to Wear Yellow and Still Feel Terrific
We wanted an insignia that was sustainable: something of enough beauty and value that you would use it again, and made in a way that would not harm the planet, or the workers who made it.
First, the beauty; our classmate Delna Dastur, a multimedia artist who has worked with woodblocks and overlaid printing, stepped up to combine the College W, our class year (thoughtfully broken up so that no one could guess our age) and the waves from the College seal to create the inspiration for a scarf long enough to wear and drape in a number of ways. Here is her first rough mock-up made with paper and paint The brown is the table under her work.
THE ETHICAL FASHION CONNECTION
Lee Flournoy’s daughter Natalie Grillon supplied the connections to sustainable materials and ethical work practices. Her company, Just PBC, does just that for designers. They had collaborated on techniques to vet ethics in pay, hours and working conditions with Mehera Shaw, an ethical model in the garment industry which produces organic cotton fabric and garments with screen and block prints in Jaipur, India. Natalie and her cofounder Shahd AlShehail , who you will see in the next slide in Jaipur are second and third from left. Rhea Rakshit, who did the design work you will see in a few slides is fourth from the left.
PROJECT JUST WITH MEHERA SHAH ON THE GROUND IN JAIPUR - MARCH 2015
INTERNATIONAL TRANSMISSION OF DELNA'S DESIGN
Delna is a fine artist, not a designer, but a designer friend and Mehera Shaw both realized that her design would best execute, not with wood blocks, but via silk screen derived from precise, Photoshop measurements and a particular set of color codes which Delna could not access. The rough sketch didn’t have exactly the colors Delna wanted. Rhea Rakshit, Project Just’s designer, measured out the design and corrected the colors to Delna’s satisfaction. With a click of a button it was off to Jaipur. Shari Keller of Mehera Shaw advised that we should use a cotton/silk blend for better drape and truer color. After Rhea's Photoshop work, Delna's sketch became this.
MEHERA SHAH - JAIPUR, INDIA
We are a fair trade, full service garment manufacturer in Jaipur which means we source fabric (typically certified organic cottons), dye and block print, do pattern making, grading, fit samples, production samples and small to medium-scale garment/homewares manufacturing and finally exporting of the same. We have two facilities, one is our dyeing and block printing unit in Sanganer and the other is our garment manufacturing unit in Jaipur.
We first developed a women’s clothing brand and as we went along, we felt the overwhelming need to be our own manufacturers so that we would know first hand how everyone was being treated, who was working for us, understand the conditions and so we could say with full transparency that we are fair trade and know every step of the process. https://www.meherashaw.com
Mehera Shaw employs 35 people currently. It partners with like-minded suppliers who work specifically with GOTS certified organic cotton, handloom cotton or silk. Mehera Shaw works with customers who share its philosophy about sustainability, fair trade and slow fashion. That’s us, ’71! Below are several pictures of ouyr scarf in production.
JUST - ProjectJust.com
At Project JUST we are building a community to help millenials and other shoppers learn the stories behind their clothes. Our online platform features brand profiles researched by ethical, social, and environmental factors and a magazine of features including shopper profiles and styling posts to help shoppers put their values into action. We are committed to fostering transparency in the industry. Our goal is changing the way we shop by empowering people to purchase not only by fit, style and quality but also the brand’s ethics as to the workers in its supply change, and environmental practices about sustainability. On the Project JUST site, you can search by brand and read their thoughtful, objective and independent research about its transparency, ethics, sustainability and production practices. Eager millennials can also discover the best brands to shop through their JUST APPROVED ™ lists. If you or someone you love is a millennial or Gen Xer, please get them to take a peek, too. They will know even more of these brands than most of us. Project JUST wants their input and comments about brands to research, offers information about designers and amazing ethical developing-world producers, and tips to keep your own closet sustainable.
If you care about the impact of our purchases on the environment, and social justice we need your help to launch the campaign. Please help support our work. Check out this video for more information about the company and its impact (password: hardpin). And check into our crowd-funding campaign starting June 8 here!