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Namrata Zakaria Fashion Catalyst, Editor, Columnist Founder Bardari initiative in an interview with Hareeni Vipin

Namrata Zakaria Fashion Catalyst, Editor, Columnist Founder Bardari initiative in an interview with Hareeni Vipin

Please share more about the Baradari initiative, give us a detailed backdrop.

Baradari was born from the need to make a difference in the way India conducts her business. For us, we thought we should initiate the way the fashion industry conducts its business: why is there a glaring economic divide or a wage gap between a fashion designer and an artisan? Is it just because one of born in a middle class or an upper-income household, and the other is born poor? We wanted to raise awareness about economic equality in the way we conduct our businesses, and help remove skilled artisans from a cycle of chronic poverty.

Who are the key catalysts of this endeavour?
The pandemic, and our varied reactions to the lockdown, triggered the endeavour. Watching those visuals of the migrants walk home though several states was heart-wrenching. It’s almost we prefer to forget the poor exist, keep them in ghettoes or slums, and go on pretending India is only producing billionaires. The pandemic was a reminder that more than seven decades after Independence, we are still struggling with hunger and a humanitarian crisis on a very, very large scale. My first call was to Tina Tahiliani Parikh, of Ensemble, since she is usually my go-to person for all things related to fashion. I suggested an ecommerce sale where we would take from designers and give, in full, to the artisans. She loved the idea. My second call was to Kareena Kapoor Khan, because nobody listens to journalists and I needed a platinum-club movie star to broadcast what I was saying. She jumped in immediately. Then I called Pareina Thapar, as I am yet to meet a brand strategist better than her. Baradari now had an A team.

What do you see as a trend that is impacting the fashion industry globally?
Sustainability is a much used and much abused word. It’s almost a marketing gimmick now. However in India, we don’t need to ape the west’s idea of upcycling or zero waste, since we don’t have those scales of fast fashion or departmental stores. We already buy for value and longevity, and value heirlooms for generations. The luxury of slow fashion is intrinsic in our culture. For us, sustaining our farming practices was fundamental, growing healthy and ethical cotton and silk. But the big India story is still sustaining livelihood. Our superbly talented and skilled weavers are shamefully poor. We need to fix that urgently.

What are the few consumerism trends post covid that will shape sustainable fashion?
Unfortunately we are producing and consuming much less fashion, which also means weavers are getting far fewer orders. At Baradari, we believe economic sustainability is when a person is independent of another for work. When a weaver can be an entrepreneur, create his own product and his own avenue towards a market. We find some hugely talented but very poor clusters who could do with a leg-up, a nice chunk of money, that goes beyond food and ration. They can buy a computer, more looms, a better cell phone, and build a business via their own websites or social media.

Share your vision for the initiative
Our vision is to change the way people conduct their businesses. To get companies to invest in human capital, where labour power is a long-term and result-oriented exercise. Where people are given skills, knowledge and training to able to pursue different livelihood strategies. We need to protect the vulnerability index for rural livelihoods, ensure they have long term productivity and are able to alleviate poverty.

Share details of your partners and collaborators
Shared above.

Baradari initiative and the impact on our artisan community
So last year, we were able to raise Rs 50 lakh which was divided among five artisan communities. The clusters in Bengal were able to repair their Cyclone Amphan ravaged homes and units, and get a little production going, as that was their immediate need. A weaver in Benares bought the plot next door, and put two pit looms in it. He’s increased his production, and has bought a computer and a cell phone to be able to set up a small direct business. An embroidery group in Srinagar was able to pay of loans, give a small bonus to the out of work employees, and get started on production again. A women’s cluster in chirala, Andhra Pradesh, was able to raise the monthly wages from Rs 6,000-7,000 to Rs 9,000-10,000. This has changed the dynamics of the women in their families by empowering them financially and given them a stronger voice.

Can you share Kareena’s/ Tinas views on partnering with Baradari
Kareena Kapoor Khan, says “Baradari is a wonderful initiative as it speaks about economic equality in the world of fashion and textiles. This is the most important conversation fashion in India needs to be having. Designers and artisans are partners in making an outfit, and Baradari wants all of us to acknowledge that partnership. I am so excited to be a part of Baradari once again this year, especially after seeing the impact of the funds we raised last year. Thank you to Namrata Zakaria for putting it together this year. And my special thanks to every single designer participating.”

Baradari partner, Tina Tahiliani Parikh, owner and co-founder, Ensemble, says, “Artisans and craftsmen are the backbone of the fashion industry in India. Baradari is doing superb work in identifying & supporting weaving and embroidery clusters that need help. It’s a privilege to support this fundraiser to recognise the unsung heroes of our industry.”