The topic of ethical and sustainable fashion is becoming increasingly popular and important these days, and yet, it is a tricky issue. Often the idea of a truly unique, artisan-like production of clothing, rather than mass-produced items, is pitted against modern technology. The ‘old versus new debate’ is, ironically, not a new issue. Yet the way forward for ethically-made fashion and clothing must move beyond such a debate to embrace modern technology.
The IOU Project, developed by the Madrid-based designer and distributor, Kavita Parmar, suggests a way of moving forward in a truly collaborative and embracing fashion. Rather than turning away from modern technology, Parmar has used the internationally collaborative opportunities of the internet and the online shopping world to develop a clothing line based on an artisan approach to the production of fashion clothing.
Parmar describes the project as ‘an experiment to rethink how goods are produced and sold in a way that benefits everyone.’ Key to the development of the clothing line are its core objectives, which Parmar notes are based on empowering the artisan, celebrating uniqueness, transparency in production and utilising the power of technology to make this happen.
The basic idea behind the IOU Project is to produce and design a line of totally unique clothing based on classic pieces and attention to fine detail that ensures no two items are exactly the same. This is similar to older models of individually produced artisan clothing and art, before the onset of modern technology. Yet rather than rejecting modern technology, the project seeks to embrace and align it with a more personalised perspective that respects the creative process, the artist, the producer, the consumer and the communities to which all belong. Fundamental to this process is that each piece of clothing sold on the IOU Project website comes with a story on the product, the artisan who produced the fabric in India and the designers who made the garment in Europe, in the form of pictures, words and videos. As buyers, we are taken on a narrative journey each step of the way, from the initial stages of the production of fabric, to its design and distribution online. This international collaborative project marks a truly modern way of thinking about artisan fashion.
The IOU Project launched on 9 May, 2011. Click here to view the website and online store.
All Images copyright the IOU Project.