IOU Project: Sport Madras checks in funky avatars!
IOU is a unique project that marries ethical fashion and digital media in an innovative way!
Ethical fashion is the buzzword in the clothing industry today. More and more fashion designers are striving to produce goods that do not harm the environment and are cruelty-free. Ethical fashion also can be defined as the production of textile items with a conscience, basically designing garments with the notion of social responsibility. One initiative that seems to be leading the way forward is the I Owe You (IOU) Project, which offers fashion conscious consumers a very distinct platform for online shopping; where it links the buyers with artisan-producers from across the country, and uses social media in the most compelling way. There’s a story behind each unique item that you buy at IOU and you can trace its history through audiovisual material that archives the entire process.
When you buy an IOU garment, you get involved in the garment's journey, right from the production to its design. IOU mainly focuses on Madras checks and uses it widely in its collections. They use hand woven fabrics made by artisans in India and turn them into designer wear and retail it online while chronicling the whole process. All their items have a unique QR code which electronically links you to the specific artisans and craftsman that created the garment. And that’s not all; you can even partake in the story by photographing yourself with the product and uploading it on the site to complete the social circle. How innovative!
Talking about the project, Kavita Parmar, IOU Founder and Creative Director says, “The project is called I OWE YOU because it perfectly reflects the spirit of the cause. If we could all say these three words to ourselves, to the people and the community around us and Mother Nature, of course it would be a great way to start. I felt the need to vocalize and take responsibility and not wait for anyone else to come and solve our problems.”
Kavita who has been working with artisan groups in India for over 15 years says that she created the online social platform for like-minded people, and hopes it encourages a more sustainable form of commerce and develops symbiotic businesses. she adds, “This project grew out of my frustration as a designer with the current fashion system that I felt did not nurture Big design (not just making things pretty but truly designing the eco system around their production and make it sustainable) nor protect excellent craftsmanship or artisan ship. The idea was to rethink the clothing manufacturing and distribution chain to really serve the artisan, the designer, the final client and be sustainable for everyone instead of just enriching a few at the top end. IOU is an experiment in creating a prosperity chain that allows goods to be produced and sold in a way that benefits everyone involved.”
At present the IOU Project works with handloom clusters in Tamil Nadu under the umbrella of Co-optex, where they work with 223 of their master weavers. They also work with Japanese artisans for the real plant indigo that they use in their dyed denims range. “The website just in design and programming has taken over six months, what looks very simple is in reality very complex programming as every single piece is unique has a unique story and can be traced back to its weaver and European artisan with just one click and then it can be reserved by anyone for a period of time for their trunk show, bought by someone else etc,” says Kavita who has been working on the project for the last one and half year.
With IOU you can resell any particular item and become a "Trunk Show Host". All you have to do is get approved by them and then just as you would browse any site for items to buy, you look through the store selecting items to put in your trunk show. You can then start sharing items with friends using social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can get a share of the earnings from each piece sold (20 per cent for products sold in the first week, 15 per cent for the second, and 12.5 per cent for the third, after which the piece expires and goes back to the IOU inventory).
Visit www.theiouproject.com or www.facebook.com/iouproject. The clothes are priced at Rs. 2,000 onwards.