As a manufacturer, Mehera Shaw is committed to our fair trade principles and to becoming as sustainable as possible. What we have realized over the years, is that sustainably has multiple, interwoven areas and to ignore any one area is to overlook the deeper meaning of sustainability, namely how sustainability and slow fashion go hand in hand.
To sustain something means to support it in a way that is ongoing. To continually renew, regenerate and breathe life into something. We use the term to refer to life-supporting and interconnected relationships between:
It is about giving renewed life to the supply chain. Sustainability requires understanding the supply chain as a living circle which includes farmers, workers, artisans, buyers and consumers, our human and natural environment, and is a shared support network of trade, knowledge, helpful relationships and solution sharing.
of sustainability is to work toward transparent, supportive networks within our supply chain which show cultural respect, understanding and non-discrimination. It means making decisions which help people first and taking into consideration everyone’s life situations when making company decisions.
We are a fair trade manufacturer; this is our labour standard is and is the only way to work.
We work with artisans as we uphold Gandhi’s principles of decentralized production and self-reliance being in the hands of the people—what we make is made with our hands. Together.
of sustainability relates to the environment and involves removing pollutants, reducing energy and resource usage, minimizing waste and finding systems which renew the land, water and natural environment.
of sustainability is about the quality of workmanship, quality of design, the wearability/longevity of a garment, the scale of production and the resulting economics and politics of production and of scale. It is that complex web of interconnections having to do with how we conceive of a product and how we use it. It is not enough to say that we are avoiding pollutants or that we follow fair trade practices.
Ultimately, sustainability is about keeping the whole system in balance so that we all have — enough.
We believe good design is about the lasting power of a garment, is about the scale of production, the cost of goods and affordability of ‘sustainable’ garments and about making sure that everyone in the supply chain sees themselves as part of the circle and finds means to support it.
We believe good design is about the lasting power of a garment. It means moving away from trends and thinking of fashion as a commodity, items to be replaced at lightening speed. It is about moving away from the social pressure to be ‘in’ and moving toward a human connectedness and desire to ensure that everyone has –enough. Moving toward an aesthetic which embraces creativity and personal expression while recognizing that moderation in consumption is both a value and an aesthetic.
It is about seeing clothing not as a means toward securing popularity, but as a means of telling the human story of the many hands who made it, the human story that brings all of us together. It is about valuing the longevity in every garment, learning to mend, to share, to recycle and upcycle. It is also about good design. Good design is not trendy; it is practical, effortless, wearable and becomes more beautiful the longer its story is told. So called ‘sustainable’ fashion, which appears as one time evening gowns is not sustainable. It is the well-loved and well worn dress that I wore through multiple seasons, mended and finally passed on to my daughter, then added bright colored patches to, that has stood the test of time and is part of the deeper human story; it is part of the SLOW FASHION world. A world where we are human beings first and realize that we can’t couple words like organic and fair trade and artisan with sustainability until we rethink what type of fashion we’re producing, what type of designs, at what speed, with what longevity –and what marketing message.
For any of this to be sustainable, all of us need to rethink what type of clothes we are making and what our responsibility is to make things that will last, stand the test of time, be a part of a person’s wardrobe for years to come and be part of the greater message to humanity. Design which allows those who made it to live decently and those who wear it to be an active part of that human story is the only ‘fashionable’ thing to do. Making the best use of what we have so that others will have enough is the only road to sustainability.
In essence SLOW FASHION is an intrinsic part of the road to sustainability and to the core principles underlying ethical fashion. It is a different understanding of art, design, process, durability, longevity and the human story encoded in the garment.
We'd like to share an article by Camilla Wellton on Slow Fashion which addresses the core values of this movement and further addresses how we must work together toward sustainable solutions.
Below we have outlined the benefits of our use of organic cotton, low-impact dyes, hand loom textiles, block prints and fair trade manufacturing, ethical production. The benefits of all three facets - people, planet, design - together help create a more sustainable world.
For more information on organic cotton standards, please see the links below:
Please see the link below for more information on the Government of India, Ministry of Textiles report on hand loom textiles and benefits for Indian artisans:
Textile Ministry of India Annual Report
We are part of the way toward our goals; we are working toward GOTS certification for our wet processing which is the portion of our own supply chain which involves dyeing and printing of our fabric.
We are in the process of developing a water filtration system for waste water treatment which will mean we are not dependent on government provided facilities and have more control over removal of dyestuff sludge and the ability to reuse grey water for washing. We hope to see this project completed by the end of 2015.
As we grow our business, we will gradually add each of these and elements to our ‘big picture’. We expect that as we move along, our vision will also evolve.