Today I want to introduce you to a different kind of producer in textil industry. Last week was Fashion Revolution week. A week which claims Labels to care for better conditions fortheir workers.
One of the worst conditions in producing industries you probably find in slums. Slums are full of industries though. 80% of foreign recycling is happening in the slums of India. 250.000 people of Dharavi work in recycling only.
Dharavi is the biggest slum of entire Asia. With 5000 factories and 15.000 single room businesses and between 700.000 up to 1 million people living in the slum of Dharavi.
Most of the people there are young migrants who couldn't find jobs at home and came to Mumbai - "the city of dreams" with hope for a better life or at least with hope for a job with which they can make some money off to send back to their families. But fining a job is not that easy with 11.98 million people living in Mumbai. It is a super crowded city and with at least 122 different major languages of India it doesn't make it easier for migrants to even communicate. And yes, of course also the caste system still has its influence in finding jobs or not.
"In the slums we work for anything, Nora. Anything! Everybody who is here is happy to have any work and I am not sure if your campaign is really helping people like us"
Sunil said that when he walked me through Dharavi.
"Nevertheless the slums have a political power, maybe something you would not expect. But it's easy to make promises to the slums, they easily notice differences, if one year was better or worse. But most of the promises are just talking."
So how can this situation ever change for the people in the slums?
Right, when they start to understand their own power.
One of the greatest industries in the slum of Dharavi is the Leather Industry. Imran Khan and his family own one of these industries. On the 25th of December 2015 (Prophet Mohammeds birth day) they founded their very own label called Dharavi. Like this Irman Khan is hoping to produce high-quality leather goods for foreign markets and give the name Dharavi an image turn from a slum into a product of high-quality.
So far Imran and his family were mostly copying labeld products, so called fake-branding. But Dharavi is already well known for the high quality leather in any tourist guide. Moreover brands like Timberland/Woodland use exactly the same leather as they do and produce in Dharavi.
The Label Dharavi is so far run by 45 people all together. With an English guy called James Hilton Imran Khan and his family try to prepare Dharavi for the English online market. The fantastic design of the bags is done by a by a girl called Mana who is a medalist from Bardora, and gives the Dharavi Label the right touch.
Imran Khan himself was born in Dharavi and he loves the people there. With the Label Dharavi he is hoping to make a change for this people. The people who work for him work like any other family member, there is no difference for him. Although Imran also works with many migrants which makes it is harder to communicate. See this as a very straight forward refugee program, which Europe can/should have look at.
Imran's ambitions are big. When you ask him where he wish to go with his Label Dharavi he tells you he wants to see Dharavi as the biggest Label of the world.
I think this is great - big dreams make big change. I will keep you updated as soon as the first online store is working! So far you will only find them in Dharavi itself between the metro stops Chunnabhatti and Sion Railway.
To me the idea and the label Dharavi is a great change to connect straight to a slum in Bombay in a very long lasting way buying such great quality goods.