What does a ready-to-wear Indo-French brand and a Delhi NGO working with displaced Afghan women refugees have in common? Crafting happiness. Fashion label Genes Lecoanet Hemant, in collaboration with the NGO Silaiwali, recently started The Joy Project. With its hand-sewn rag dolls, the project takes a nostalgic trip back to childhood days.
At the same time, it aims at creating circular solutions by breathing new life into fashion waste. Crafted by Afghani women refugees in India, the collaboration focuses on inclusivity, something Genes believes in: the brand’s creative process is outlined in Paris and it is further cultivated in India.
“It is another step in our commitment towards renewability through ‘closing the loop’ for our fabric waste. The donated post-production fabric waste is hand-sewn by the artisans into two dolls—Marcel and Fifi—exemplifying the ethos of the GenesTribe. Our aim is to rediscover the joie de vivre, innately present in all of us, a little bit of childhood that we always carry with ourselves,” says Hemant Sagar, co-founder and designer, Genes Lecoanet Hemant.
As Iris Strill, co-founder Silaiwali, carefully handpicks waste fabric to develop yet another remarkable line of sophisticated rag dolls in her studio in Delhi, one can’t help but notice how her creations are more than just dolls. They manage to address the pressing issue of livelihood for displaced individuals. With its unique workforce—90 workers of which 18 are regulars and the rest get paid on per piece basis—Silaiwali helps ensure fair employment for women from different walks of life.
Like others, this NGO too has taken a hit because of Covid-19. But the team is hopeful that once life returns to normal, upcycled products will be in demand. While nature and art serve as the core inspiration, Genes is also constantly looking for ways to collaborate for a cleaner planet. Talking about working with Silaiwali, Hemant says, “We felt a strong synergy of core values and were very excited to embark on a journey together.
The idea was to find an ingenious way to use textile scraps and create something of value.” With the present limited-edition collectible doll range, the brand is slowly working towards its motto of ensuring that in the next couple of years, it can minimise its carbon footprint. The collection is available on geneslecoanethemant.com/collections/doll and Genes stores in India Delhi, Kolkata and Lucknow.