Creating new life for left over fabrics

Finally. After two years’ COVID-19 travel restrictions, the first Women on Wings’ expert to come back to India was color specialist Marie-Gon Vos. End of January 2022, she worked with Women on Wings’ business partner MORALFIBRE in Ahmedabad on creating new products from left over fabrics. MORALFIBRE’s slogan is ‘let us bring ethics back to clothing’ and the social enterprise produces organic cotton fabrics from which it makes clothes and accessories. Handmade without burdening the earth.

Looking for a new life
What kept piling up in recent years was left over fabric from the production of clothes or other items. It resulted in cupboards full of beautiful organic cotton rags and bits which deserved something better than being called ‘waste’. Marie-Gon started by just looking at those cupboards full of fabrics, to get the entire picture of what was available. Then, she and the MORALFIBRE team spread out fabrics on tables and on the floor to sort everything by color, for a good overview. Women on Wings has been facilitating online workshops during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the power of the fabrics could only truly be revealed by feeling the structure and seeing the many color nuances.

Staring at fabrics
Shailini Seth Amin, founder and senior partner at Women on Wings’ partner MORALFIBRE is an architect who turned social entrepreneur. In her own designed bungalow she runs a studio where she creates and sells mainly clothing, but also accessories. She and her team are always looking for new ways to process fabrics. Together with Marie-Gon, they found new color combinations and made sample color cards which will make it much easier to sort the left over fabrics and create something new with that palette. So instead of starting a design process from the product, start from the color palette. Says Shailini: “At MORALFIBRE we are committed to using each bit of fabric through our ‘Saarthak’ initiative. We make smaller accessories like toys, bags and jewelry. Marie-Gon added a completely new line with her creativity and great design and color sense.”

How many yellows…
Adds Marie-Gon: “I saw so many yellow! Saffron, lemon, sunflower, yellows that are turning olive and green, and also orange. And the same applied to other colors. With each color I pulled out of the closet, the overall color scheme got deeper and richer. I saw more and more possibilities. I thought of creating a summer scarf. We cut sample patterns from newspapers, so that we could create something like a tangram puzzle. This puzzle became a large-sized scarf which enables MORALFIBRE to reduce its left over materials faster, and also creates a product with a good selling price. I really look forward to seeing what more new products from left over fabrics the team will come up with.”

The why of being
MORALFIBRE’s mission it to contribute towards an environmentally and socio-economically sustainable world by bringing synergy in the activities of producers of ethical fabrics, their organizations, designers, consumers and various members of the ethical fabric value chain. The fabrics are hand spun and hand woven by artisans, mainly women, in remote villages. Women on Wings and MORALFIBRE are partnering since 2015 in a joint effort to improve the livelihoods of women artisans.