When we co-hosted Voices and Solutions, in April 2019, our research had led to a path of interesting findings. Amongst many such findings, the concept of Circular Design Economy caught our attention. After the seminar, we began work in what would redefine Monokrome’s brand value as we complete the second year of our operations – creating a transparent supply chain.
A transparent supply chain is one of the most important, yet challenging elements of a fashion business. In an age, where we demand to know who makes our clothes, we should also be aware of what is going into the making of the clothes we wear. The choices we make on a daily basis has a major impact on the environment and the society we live in. Here we go back to the very first challenge we faced when we began operations; sourcing. Sourcing gave us sleepless nights as we struggled to ensure that we are on the path to creating sustainable products. There was not enough information readily available for companies who wished to source directly from suppliers. It took us a year to forge that path, because we wished to develop quality textiles through sustainable means.
After much ado, we were able to hunt down organisations that would assist us. We collaborated with Cyclo Bangladesh to procure recycled yarn directly from them, and then work with weavers in Panchagarh to develop Monokrome textiles. We worked with handloom weavers because the handloom industry was another interesting factor we came across during our research. We found that the handloom industry in Bangladesh, a heritage cottage industry that continues to create major employment to men and especially women in both urban and rural areas, is in steep decline. It is reported in the Handloom Census 2018 by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics that the number of handlooms has declined by approximately 45% in the last 15 years, and the total number of workers have declined by approximately 29%. There are a myriad of reasons for the fall in handloom weaving, but it is mainly due to lack of investment and technological advancement, which prevents and limits the usage of hand woven textiles.
However, as we worked with the weavers, and determined thread counts and the design for our products, we were able to reach a satisfactory level of quality to begin with. More research and trial and error methods will improve the quality further, we believe.
As we implemented a transparent supply chain; procured recycled yarn; woven textiles with local weavers; sourced natural buttons and other accessories; produced all products at our Studio workshop; we also completed a collection called “Circularity”, which was based on the circular design model. While we were working on the collection, our agent in Europe, JAANTE, invite us to attend the prestigious Brussels Fashion Days, in Brussels, Belgium, to showcase our latest collection and give a talk on our work with sustainable fashion and textiles in Bangladesh.
It was a humbling experience for us to showcase our collection alongside some of the best designers in Europe. The Fashion Talk on Sustainability was also a great opportunity for us to speak about our journey in sustainable design and transparent supply chain in the fashion industry.
It is interesting that the very obstacle that limited us from realising our goals in the beginning, eventually became our strength and unique selling proposition, and that is sourcing.
Read about Bangladesh’s Handloom Sector here: