Despite the serious room for improvement, America is still a frontrunner when it comes to human rights and social justice. But while we fight hard for equal pay and a sexual harassment-free workplace through #MeToo and TIME’S Up, female employees in many developing countries don’t have any rights at all.
There is perhaps no industry that practically illustrates this disconnect more than fashion. Despite the fact that the fashion industry has been predominantly fueled by women’s money, it is in fact women who suffer the most in sweatshops and garment factories, especially in developing countries, which have few worker protections.
“There are 75 million workers in the garment industry and 80% of the workforce are women,” says Saloni Shrestha, the Founder and Designer behind the women’s fashion brand AGAATI. When these women workers are exploited with low wages, gender inequality and harassment, the effects percolate throughout the society, scarring generations and communities around the world.”
This hasn’t occurred to many of the women marching in New York City and San Francisco, wearing feminist slogan tees. “I want to connect the modern, independent, better-resourced women of America to the women from a completely different world whose fight for their social status and economic empowerment is still far behind,” says Saloni. “We want to lend our voice and actions to enable fair wages and respect to these women.”
AGAATI employs both women and men weavers, but over the past year, Saloni and her team have prioritized women’s empowerment along with deep connection with artisans as specific goals for the brand. As AGAATI grows, they continue to collaborate with more women artisans who have faced domestic violence as well as give back portions of their profits to NGOs that support women’s empowerment and create employment for artisans around the world.
In order to bring the stories of these artisans closer to you, AGAATI is releasing several short films to introduce you to the individual makers themselves. The designer herself works closely with artisans and weavers, some of whom have been carrying this work through generations.
AGAATI’s Newest Collection, Inspired by Nature
AGAATI’s newly released Spring/Summer ‘18 Collection is inspired by the Himalayas, the gorgeous mountain range that runs through Nepal, where AGAATI’s makers are based. Saloni was inspired by “the continuity of life in nature, despite the ways in which we take away from her,” which influenced a collection that is symbolic to the transition of buds transitioning into their full bloom. The pieces are made using mostly 100% silk, some of which is upcycled, as well as cotton. In order to reduce waste, Saloni and the AGAATI team are using up the viscose fabric which was bought last season for the lining and will be switching to a more eco-friendly alternative for next season’s collection. All of the fabric is purchased undyed so that the team has full control over the natural dyeing process and can ensure that no harmful chemicals or toxins are used.
Note that some of the photos included in the SS18 Lookbook may not yet be available for purchase on AGAATI’s website. This is because, in their commitment to high-quality, slow fashion, AGAATI releases just a few pieces at a time in order to give consumers the chance to “soak in the looks slowly rather than rush through like a fast fashion cycle.”
Saloni and her team at AGAATI believe that fashion should be an actual experience, instead of something to be consumed and thrown away without thought. Because of this, their pieces are always limited edition, and they rarely give discounts because they want the wearer to see and believe in the true value and beauty in what they’re wearing. Each piece has a story, a journey, and they are meant to make you feel special as you wear your AGAATI piece for a long time.
We are excited to partner with AGAATI to give away a $150 credit to anything on AGAATI.com to one EcoCult reader! PLUS, the winner will also get a phone call with Saloni Shrestha, AGAATI’s Designer, where you will be able to ask her any questions about the brand or artisans, discuss any pieces you are interested in, and enjoy the real AGAATI experience! And if you’re located in New York, Saloni would love to meet you in person at their pop-up event in June.
Simply enter below for multiple chances to win!
The winner will receive their piece by the end of the first week of June. If the piece you want is a pre-order of a special design, then it will require 4-5 weeks and Saloni is happy to take your specific measurements. AGAATI return policy: if size is a concern, you will be able to exchange the piece within 10 days of receiving it.