One of the industries that can provide a stream of reliable market-rate income to handmade artisans is the fashion industry. As people reduced or stopped going outside, they purchased fewer fashion items than they once did. More recently we've seen an uptick in the purchase of fair-trade handmade items.
For the thousands of fair-trade artisans in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Borneo, Vietnam, and neighboring countries, fashion is not a luxury. It is the wheel of survival that keeps their life moving. With the fashion industry continuing to expand, artisans all over the subcontinent and elsewhere are making a respectable living by making beautiful handmade items for discerning consumers just like you.
So, here are some reasons to buy handcrafted accessories and fashion essentials made by artisans.
- It helps create jobs in the local area. The most obvious positive effect of buying handcrafted accessories and fashion is the creation of jobs in the rural and suburban areas. In a ripple effect, it helps employ not just the cottage industry but every person responsible for providing and preparing the raw material as well.
- It provides a livelihood to artisans. Artisans live hand to mouth. Their earning from the sale in a day is all they have to fulfill the needs of the next day. If there is even a single extra sale that day, their life would be a little easier on the next.
- Handcrafted accessories protect endangered arts. Rare and unique indigenous arts are almost on the brink of extinction due to the lack of buyers. At one point, these arts used to run entire mini-economies. Thus, buying handmade fashion protects these arts.
- It prevents the shift from the generational business. When the progeny of these artists see so little opportunity in the traditional profession, they move to other menial jobs with a steadier income. This kills an entire art form and the community built around it.
- Slow fashion is greener. Fast fashion employs machines all the way back to the production of even raw materials for faster manufacturing. It destroys the environment along the way, depleting resources that many people are dependent on for livelihood. Slow, handcrafted fashion is greener in an ecological as well as economic sense.
- It helps communities to flourish. Today several communities have come up around the crafts of artisans. These communities include not just the artisans themselves but also those that indirectly contribute to and are helped by the sale of these handcrafted accessories. Therefore, buying these products will help keep these communities alive and healthy.
- It encourages the skills of local artisans. Since these crafts are usually generational businesses, most of the people in these families do not possess any other skills and end up being jobless. Buying handicraft accessories and products will help put their original skills to use and prevent them from becoming unemployed.
It is only with public demand that handcrafted accessories can become mainstream. The labor and authentic resources utilized in handcrafted fashion is not the only thing that makes it expensive; the low demand does too. Only if we come forward and support our local artists will there be any visible change in the lives of these artisans.