It has been awhile since we have written an update on the status of our clothing project, the Kennedy line, in Haiti. As of right now things are moving along steadily and we couldn’t be more excited. Recently we were introduced and have continued contact with an organization called INDEPCO in Haiti. http://www.indepco.org/, http://haiti.buildingmarkets.org/en_af/node/6471
INDEPCO is an organization working with sewers in Haiti and is well known for upholding labour standards and paying a fair wage for its contract work. This is something that is so important to us here at Local Buttons. We want the vests to be beautiful, but more important than that we want the pieces to be made ethically. We truly believe this will make a difference in the fashion, not only will it be a beautiful piece, but something you can feel good about wearing.
What you wear tells a small part of the story of who you are, and what how you wish to depict yourself. If the artistic expression of clothing design reflects on your artistic side visually, we would like to help the conciencious side of each person show through as well.
Right now in Haiti more than half of the population is underemployed. This was a hard fact for us to wrap our brains around. In our capitalist world, how can a country even attempt to be a competitor in the international market if there are not the means to employ the majority of their population? There are so many skilled and talented artisans/workers in Haiti, yet their access to the international market already limited, was only further hindered by the January earthquake which ruined not only homes but production facilities.
INDEPCO recently received a grant from the World Bank to build a new factory with which business can be conducted. Say what I will about the WB (and believe you me I could go on quite the tangent, but alas I will save you all the time) they seem to have been on the right track here. INDEPCO received the money, it does not have to be repaid, and the WB is not interfering. And who says people, or in this case an international lending institute, cannot change?
Just last week we had a beautifully inspiring conversation with H.G. the head of INDEPCO. He seems to be right on page with us, and is so eager to get this project off the ground. Not only that but when we proposed the idea of getting a University on board and creating an internship program where design students could create designs and be part of an ethical business model he was as excited as we are!
We are currently in the process of designing a program and getting a University on board to help pilot this project. Our idea in the long run is to have a digital interface which will allow design students in Toronto to be directly in contact via the web with the sewers and manufactures in Haiti. We believe that not only will this create a greater collaboration on the design but will also be more efficient as designers and sewers will be able to converse and actually visually show each other what they want/have done.
We cannot wait to get samples back, nor can we wait to start this University program!