21.03.17

The Fabric Social Are Raising An Army of Rebels With A Cause

Emily Uebergang

Brought to you by The Fabric Social

Raising an army is no small feat. But that’s just what The Fabric Social is doing.

Behind the brand is a global network of women, from all walks of life, united by design, striving for change and marching with a whole lot of grit.

The Fabric Social represents ‘fair couture’; a collection of handwoven garments and bags, sustainably crafted with a minimalistic edge.

Their reach extends to the forgotten and forlorn corners of the world where few dare to venture. Yet it’s in these places where The Fabric Social light shines brightest.

Where looms once laid dormant and age-old weaving skills left neglected, a new doorway of opportunity has opened for these women in the remote, war-torn regions of Northeast India.

Through their partnership with The Fabric Social, these women now have a platform.

As a result, they can secure a livelihood utilising their traditional artisinal skills. And with great joy, the looms are spinning once more; a symbol of their resilience.

In a world of fleeting fashion and celebrity gossip, the story may not sound as sexy, but the end product exudes a hope for the future that’s rare to find.

THE BOMB THAT ROCKED THE BOAT

One of the founding members, Fiona McAlpine, recalls the moment she stepped onto the path that led her to The Fabric Social. It was this moment where just one person, with one idea, caused an avalanche of change in her life.

For Fiona, Binalakshmi Nepram was the proverbial bomb who caused a complete shift of perception and rocked her boat.

Working as a United Nations’ intern in New York, Fiona was frequently shuffled from conference to conference. This one particular day, sitting in the back row of a stuffy conference room listening to dignitaries debate foreign policies, one woman spoke with such command.

What she had to say shook Fiona to her core.

“Bina absolutely floored me. When it was her turn to speak she told the room about the bomb blasts in her home state. About the widows left behind, who had nothing and no one – the catalyst for starting her organization. She told us that, because of the blanket emergency laws overshadowing the Northeast of India, there was no justice for these victims. Bina spoke of the rape cases, and the naked march that women had held in protest. She told us about these very real human stories, and asked the diplomats point-blank: What are you going to do about it?”

Six months later, Fiona was on a plane to India.

The Rise Collection from The Fabric Social
The Rise Collection - The Fabric Social

“We quickly discovered that this was the case in much of Northeast India, the slice of land squished between Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan. It’s home to twice the population of Australia but no one cares about the human rights violations taking place there every day.”

THE MEETING OF MINDS

There’s nothing quite like a shared experienced, let’s say, like working for small International NGOs in the throes of the heated craziness that makes up India, to bring like-minded people together.

It’s this connection that forms the basis of The Fabric Social.

Original founding members Fiona, Sharna and Katie, were living together in a dilapidated apartment of South Delhi and working for their respective NGOs, when the idea surfaced.

At the time, Fiona was working with Bina’s organisation, The Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network, which assisted widows and other women in Manipur, caught between the state’s repressive practices and other militant groups vying for power.

Rather than waiting for someone else to open a door and take a chance on them, the trio decided to start their own crusade.

fabric social

fabric social

FORMING THEIR OWN ARMY

Working in India was a gateway for these ladies to witness the more widespread problems at hand.

“The original idea was to focus on women in post-conflict areas, but our vision has broadened as we learn more. The situation for women over the border in Myanmar is not unlike that of Northeast India. There is more than one way that there can be a peace deficit. We are drawn to the forgotten corners of these regions that don’t make headlines.”

Most recently, a fortuitous invitation to work with ActionAid Australia propelled The Fabric Social into new arenas.

Consequently, this partnership has enabled the team to work in the Myanmar Dryzone. This is a region affected by chronic indebtedness, food insecurity and vulnerabilities attributed to climate change.

Fiona explains, “The Rise Collection, released in March this year, is our first line with the Myanmar producers, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.”

The formidable team of The Fabric Social brings together like-minded designers in a way that speaks to a new generation of conscious consumers looking to support brands making deep changes in the world.

For The Rise Collection, they teamed up with Northeast Indian-based designer Siami Pachuau founder of Siami x Siami. Siami is passionate about using traditional Mizo weaving methods and previously collaborated with The Fabric Social on their Mizoram Bag Collection.

fabric social

MARCHING TO THEIR OWN BEAT

What The Fabric Social is doing goes against the norm.

Speaking from the gut and full transparency, the team aren’t scared to pull the curtains away. Completely decentralised in their operations, the team is also scattered around the world. Something that has proved to be quite the strategic advantage.

Furthermore, they’ve created a space where women are treated with respect. Not just on the producer end, but on the consumer end as well.

“Women aren’t idiots. Millennial women especially are asking more and more questions. They’re challenging the industry to do better.”

The Fabric Social are rebels with a cause.

If this kind of war-cry resonates with you, their collection might be just the kind of uniform you need for your own rebellion.

Receive $20 off your next order with discount code RISE20


IN COLLABORATION WITH THE MYANMAR PROJECT. READ MORE ABOUT THE INITIATIVE HERE.

Emily Uebergang

Emily Uebergang is a writer, farmer and ecoprenuer who transitioned from the urban jungle to a working farmstead in the beautiful mountains of the Manning Valley in New South Wales, Australia. She writes like she’s out to try and save the world… or at least make a difference for the better.