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Respect Cultural Identity

Fair Trade celebrates the cultural diversity of communities, while seeking to create positive and equitable change. Members respect the development of products, practices, and organizational models based on indigenous traditions and techniques to sustain cultures and revitalize traditions. Members balance market needs with producers’ cultural heritage.

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Example: Escama Studio

Escama Studio, a collaborative design studio based in San Francisco and Brasilia, specializes in high-end accessories which combine traditional crochet techniques with a modern design.

Brazilians traditionally used crochet as an inexpensive way to create clothing and other items. In 2004, Escama Studio started working with 12 artisans to design a crocheted handbag using recycled soda can tabs, an inexpensive material that littered the streets. The result was what Elle, Trend Forecaster, Oprah Magazine, Time Out Hong Kong, and numerous other publications in the United States, Europe, and Asia have called ‘a sleek line of women’s accessories.’

Now, the company works with more than 100 women from two different cooperatives and had produced more than 70,000 bags. The artisans pick up materials and orders at the cooperative, but the nature of the work allows them to crochet at home to be near their children and families, preserving another important piece of traditional lifestyle.

To learn more about their work in Principle 9 and all the Principles, visit EscamaStudio.com

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Example: Mehera Shaw

Founded in 1999, Mehera Shaw is committed to preserving cultural identity and supporting the local traditions of the Jaipur community in India. Not only does the organization offer eco-friendly products, but it has developed strong ties to the people of India through respect and cultural sensitivity.

Mehera Shaw works directly with village artisans and incorporates traditional artisan techniques, such as hand block printing, embroidery, and hand looming into product development. These prints are often produced using vegetable dyes, whose recipes are AZO and chemical additive free and have been passed down from many generations.

Mehera Shaw respects Jaipur’s cultural identity by incorporating the practice of khadi: cotton, wool, or silk that has been spun and loomed by hand without the use of electricity. The khadi industry, founded by Mahatma Gandhi, focuses on providing artisans with self-sufficient opportunities. They also adjust production schedules to accommodate seasonal festivals and celebrations.

By working within the cultural environment by using indigenous design motifs, Mehera Shaw produces clothing collections that respect cultural identity.

To learn more about Mehera Shaw, visit www.meherashaw.com