From Craft To Comfort

What does ‘handmade’ mean to you? When you read that a garment, or accessory, has been crafted by hand, what qualities do you assume it possesses? 

Do you think that it ensures higher quality? Do you expect it to be unique? Do you expect it to have a more comfortable fit? 

To us, handmade means community. Or rather, communities. 

Far too often, we get lost in the glamour of a great design. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We wouldn’t have half as much fun doing what we do, if the shoes weren’t so darn beautiful. But, the aesthetics are at the end of the day, just a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle. And, at times like this, the more pertinent aspects of our venture make their presence felt. 

We have all heard the stories about how businesses are being impacted by the present pandemic. And, it is taking a particularly strenuous toll on smaller ventures. 

Recently, we have been enamored by how supportive our extended family of customers is. And so, with times changing as quickly as they are, we want to take you to the heart of our efforts. 

Why So Cultured? 

One of our greatest achievements has been our truly global customer base. Because, apart from allowing us to connect with incredible ladies from all over the world, it also lets us introduce countless ladies to unparalleled craftsmanship. 

Often on these pages, you have heard about Eman’s attempts to draw inspiration from all that she grew up with, and turn that into something comfortable, and practical enough to adorn your everyday. 

And given the number of you that we have had the pleasure of selling to, I’d say that she was successful. But when the legacies run as strongly as they do here, you often get questions about intent. And in this case, the intent is to empower. The most exacting price of fast fashion is that it has destabilized communities of talented individuals. Across South Asia, their talent also represents tradition and lineage. The crafts that give Meraki shoes their particularly flamboyant flare, have been passed down from generations. 

On the one hand, this means that our designs are truly one-of-a-kind. Crafted using rare techniques, our shoes have a tendency to stand out. But, we also insist on working with artisans, because they have been left behind by the wave of fast-fashion. 

Preservation In Vogue 

As remarkable as processes like mirror-work, block printing, and Gota embroidery are, would you believe that they are a small part of all that South Asian craft has to offer? Tragically, they are also the few that have survived to see modern times. There are countless cultural crafts that have ceased to exist. Because these processes take time, and effort, hence they are not the natural choices for the cheap-labor-high-yield models of business. 

On a grand scale, this has meant that trend-driven products tend to look the same. But on an individual level, this has also meant that many have lost opportunities to turn their passions into professions. Overtime, this has also meant that age-old crafts have been lost to the pages of time. 

Some of our most engrossing designs have a signature look. And often, these looks are not for the fainthearted. But while they make heads turn, they also raise eyebrows. Why are our styles so ethnic? Why do we insist on putting them on a global stage? And so on, and so forth. 

The answers to these questions, and others, lie within our intent. We want to empower artisans economically, and introduce their skills to the world. What they bring to the table is unique, and possibly priceless. And now, more than ever, their contributions to culture should be celebrated, and protected. 


About the Author
Ushah Kazifreelance writer, pop-culture junkie, and resident communications expert at Meraki.