Our upcycled sari products are imbued with the dignity of both their former wearers and the incredible people involved in their reimagining. Here is the story behind this beautifully repurposed product.
Working with communities in Jaipur is a sensory journey. Stepping out of our comfort and into the slum communities with I-India can be at once joyful, confusing, maddening yet always humbling. We have witnessed the immense potential that comes from non-judgement, something that the extended I-India family have in abundance. It can be difficult remain a witness when so many images pass through your sight, particularly if they trigger a disturbing sense of injustice. Our journey has opened us to the most powerful lesson there is: everybody is worthy of giving and receiving, no more-no less. To realise this mantra you have to take it to heart, the place of common sense, the only sense of ours that does not judge because it recognises only truth, everybody is worthy.
slumwear108 is one way The Possibility Project materialises this belief in worthiness. Our use of old saris to create products that are both beautiful AND imperfect is our way of nurturing people to move beyond appearances and pre-conceived ideas on what holds value. The sari is a canvas, a length of cloth that has been interpreted by generations of artists, this one strip can be draped over 60 different ways, it is age indiscriminate – worn by young women, mothers and grandmothers alike, worn by the very poor and the very rich. It is suitable for work, leisure and luxury. If colour speaks all language in the art world, then the sari holds a universal language indeed.
‘Freedom is ultimately dignity. And dignity, not income, is the opposite of poverty’ J Novigratz.
We have interpreted the ‘language’ of the sari as one of possibility as we work with the enterprising team of young men and women to re-purpose this cloth into various products. In the spirit of transformation, we encourage the team at Ladli to come up with their own patterns, designs and colour matching. Living in this community means you are naturally resourceful, so they eliminate waste by using each sari to its greatest potential. Whenever we visit Jaipur, our team are most proud of the development of their creative input and the way their work lifts each other. Our beliefs have been affirmed that creating an income is a by-product of a dignified life and not the other way around. We know from our own affluent communities, that regardless of levels of income people can remain prisoners if they do not have a sense of dignity for self and others.
Kath and I have created slumwear108 to enable people to choose a product that reflects an attitude of dignity. Our sari products in particular are ‘imperfect’, the fabric is delicate with loose threads and some with small tears. Our hope is that it is chosen, given, received and worn with a knowingness that we are all so much more than our appearance. Our gender, ethnicity, religion, caste, income, age and family background constitute what we are, they are insignificant in comparison to who we are. If we can nurture a mindset that values a dignified life for all, imagine the possibilities that will be created.
Our collaboration with I-India’s vocational training and education programs has seen us develop engagements where people are free to express their worth, express their capabilities, voice their weaknesses and live without being judged for who they are. Together, we are creating real opportunities for change. The language used is full of dignity, it doesn’t judge or blame others for one’s experiences, it simply aims to utilise the immense worth of everyone involved and build new experiences that create greater well being for all. We are extremely proud to be a part of this movement and feel privileged to share our work through our products and engagements.
Kath and Kim