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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Meet ethical fashion brand Funky Kalakar and get 15% off their handcrafted handbags




A relatively new joiner to ethical.market is the wonderful Funky Kalakar co-founded by Amit and Amey. They have taken traditional and indigenous art forms and turned them into contemporary fashion pieces. The timeless design and quality manufacturing ensure that these are pieces made to stand the test of time, providing you with a sustainable wardrobe and peace of mind because you know where your handbags and vegan shoes have been made. 

I took some time out this week to catch up with Amey and learn more about the motivation behind the brand, including the giant strides Amey and Amit are making towards a sustainable future.


Who is behind Funky Kalakar?

Funky Kalakar (Unconventional Artist) was started by me Amey Alshi and my childhood friend Amit Jain. We are both travel enthusiasts, with an enormous love and passion for different art forms. We started Funky Kalakar to produce luxury leather fashion accessories and vegan shoes whilst doing our bit, giving back to the small communities and artisans.

Our entire business model revolves around collaborating with artisans from economically challenged backgrounds. Such alliances have been labelled as fair trade, ethical fashion and much more. But for us, it is a chance to create prosperous ties with endowed artists and share their stories.

Why did you start your brand?


Funky Kalakar is the conception of a long journey fueled by enthusiasm and devout respect for ingenious art forms. We have come to understand that the world without the beauty of art and its principles is a world lacking life. That being said Funky Kalakar aspires to make a mark in the grey blur of the convention.

We work out of a handbook that mirrors our outlook of the world. Our principles are not rooted in the origins of the people we work with, but with the heart, they put into their craft to create something magnificent.  Funky Kalakar has been built upon three strongholds, those being a hope for sustainability, a vision for empowerment and of course a sanctuary for the artistic temperament. 


Obviously, this quality craftsmanship is important to you, did you always know that was the type of business you wanted to go into?
Both Amit and I come from families engaged in a saree business in Mumbai, and we always wanted to start our own enterprise but were unsure of how to go about it. Things took a turn when I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London back in 2015. The V&A was then hosting a show titled 'The Fabric of India'. Apart from showcasing painted fabrics from 1590 to 2015, the exhibition also detailed the ways in which cotton and silk fabric were produced, along with the vegetable dying process, handmade embroideries and so on. 

The entire process during pre-industrialisation was handmade, sustainable and environmentally friendly. That visit sparked a light-bulb moment, with the possibilities of sustainable fashion. In order to understand the different facets of sustainability in fashion, I enrolled for a short course in fashion design from the renowned London institute Central Saint Martins. 


What makes you different to the high street alternatives?

The theme of our brand is "Bringing Back the Classics". We believe Our forbearers did not always lead lives admixed with adventure and excitement but they had a wonderful trove of stories to tell. Stories of amazing ingenuity and unparalleled passion. We recite those stories by reviving the art forms they birthed and amalgamating them with contemporary designs and trends of craftsmanship.

Our handbags are made from full grain leather, they are hand made and hand painted by the traditional madhubani artists.

Our range of shoes have an interesting development process, as the designs are block-printed on cotton using the Ajrakh technique and the soles are made from scrap tyres. The production unit, based in Mumbai, has also employed four roadside cobblers for this purpose. These cobblers were struggling to earn a living due to increase in branded machine-made products. It is not just about employing four men, but providing for four families.

You’ve obviously spent a lot of time getting to know your artisans what has that been like?

Once the concept of Funky Kalakar was finalised, we started a journey that took us deep into the interiors of Northern India, as part of our extensive research that included studying various indigenous art forms and meeting local artisans who still practice these crafts.

We went to villages which didn’t even have local transport or road infrastructure. We came across several artisans who were extremely talented but still struggled to meet ends. Demonstrating enormous love and passion for the art form, which was inherited by them from their ancestors, we realised that the medium they used to display their art form was not able to fetch them adequate returns. 


What has been your biggest achievement to date? And where do you see Funky Kalakar in 5 years?
To date, we have up-cycled 105kgs of rubber from scrap tyres for our vegan shoe collection, which would have otherwise ended in landfill. Funky Kalakar has directly or indirectly affected the life of 25 to 30 artisans. We are extremely proud of our collaborations with designers, artisans, NGO's and groups, they are the sole reason for our existence. We are also thankful for our collaboration with you guys at ethical.market, as we know you're helping us to communicate our message to our customers.



For one week only Funky Kalakar are offering a 15% discount on their bags and tablet covers, to take advantage of this offer or more information about the brand CLICK HERE


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