Category Archives: Uncategorized

One Day of Peace! What an amazing idea!

Hello!  As you may know, F.A.C.T.S. is committed to transforming the world.  And because of this dedication we cannot ignore it when we come across amazing people who share the vision of a better world for everyone.  Take a look at this organization’s website http://www.peaceoneday.org and check out the video below.

From the site,

To some it’s just a single day. But to us, 21 September is a 24-hour platform forlife-saving activities around the world and an opportunity for individuals – particularly young people – to become involved in the peace process. We hope that our call for a Global Truce on Peace Day 2012 will help to institutionalise Peace Day and engage unprecedented numbers of people, regardless of national, cultural, political or religious identity, in the peaceful observance of 21 September.

They are doing important work and we should all support it in whatever way we can.  We can all be a part of a movement towards a more peaceful world. Let’s all join together and make this happen!


Sari-inspired Wraps, Your Opinion Needed

Please help us out! We have been looking for a new, improved name for our “silk flex-wraps.”

Sample Silk Flex-Wrap. See how beautiful it is? Help us Come up with a New Name!!!

As many of you know already, we,  at f.ac.t.s, pay careful attention to eco-friendly, fair-labor manufacturing practices. We have our site up and running, and we are on the closing side of our first 100 customers! For barely starting on July 1st, this is certainly something to celebrate!! (Take advantage of our Grand Opening special discount on our site (http://factsfashion.com/Shop.htm) before we reach 100 clients!

However, we find ourselves looking for a new name. The wraps are made from 100% recycled Indian sari cloth. Previously, we have called them “flex-wraps,” but per your suggestions, we find that the name does not completely capture the stunning elegance, versatility, and eco-friendliness of these wraps.

Tell us your suggestions, for a name that is fun, alluring, or vivacious! Your support means so much to us, and we can’t wait to hear from all of you!

  • Check back here continuously, to find out who won! The creator of the name we end up choosing will be given a special 20% discount on ANY wrap of choice!!! Fill out the bottom poll to participate!

Go eco-friendly fashion!! Help us make green fashion affordable and known!

Showcasing Personal Expression with our F.A.C.T.S. silk flex-wraps


F.A.C.T.S. is up and running!!! :)

Ok, we are running fashionably behind, and we must apologize for our technology failing us at the moment. Our flex-wraps are up!!! We are continuing to upload flex-wraps until this evening, when we will have all 30 flex-wraps up!! By tonight, we will have our first youtube video up on our “Flex-Wrap Fashion Tips” page, to show you different ways of wearing your flex-wraps! Thank you all for your support and patience as the two of us are figuring everything out! It means a lot to us, that you are supporting our cause and a socially responsible, small business endeavor!!!  Please comment on our blog or facebook or email us with comments!!! We appreciate all feedback, and we value your opinions very much!

Thank you to Libby Simons for being our first f.a.c.t.s. customer and supporting our cause!! 🙂


Silk Flex-Wraps: Made from Recycled Sari Cloth!

So, Friday has finally come! If any of our readers have not liked us on facebook, we do have a facebook page! (See our left sidebar for the link.) Like us there to keep up with announcements! The silk flex-wraps have come at last, and at 3:00 p.m. today, Friday, July 1st, we will have our website completely up and fully functional! We are so excited to bring you these affordable, green fashion items, and thrilled to be able to give 10% of our profits to Navdanya (see our Products page for more information). I hope the following can clear up any questions you might have, that have not been answered on our other pages of this blog. 🙂 We hope to find you visiting our website, starting at 3:00 p.m.!!

Why Should You Care About F.A.C.T.S.?

1) We care about Mother Earth:

Our products are eco-friendly (made from recycled and/or organic material) and follow fair-labor practices.

2) We really do care about the effects of over-consumption on the environment and the human spirit:

One flex-wrap can be used in about 100 different ways, which means you are consuming less by buying several outfits in one! As much as possible, our packaging is eco-friendly. We wrap our items in recycled cloth and all paper goods come from recycled paper. We are constantly looking for new ways to cut down on waste and be more green.

3) 10% of our profits this summer go to a very worthy cause.

This summer season, we are giving 10% of our profits to Navdanya, a non-profit that has helped set up seed banks and train local organic farmers across 16 states in India in food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture. To learn more about Navdanya and why it is important, see our “Causes” page.

4) We are trying to change the world for the better, one local economy at a time, and be a model for businesses to start giving much more back to local communities.

As F.A.C.T.S. grows, we will be buying new fashion items from a different local economy each season, helping their communities construct the best possible agendas for solving their chosen community need, and giving them 50% of the profits so that they can achieve their goals. The more we grow, the more we can give back to local economies around the globe! (If you would like us to go to your local community, send us an email @ info@factsfashion.com.)

5) We partner with communities, instead of simply borrowing from them.

We don’t simply sell fashion items from different cultural groups around the world, we also help you learn about these cultures and traditions and give back to their economies. We honor the local communities that we work with and strive to avoid cultural appropriation in every way we can.

 


The Sari: Meanings Behind the Cloth

Clothing in most (if not all) cultures is a significant interpretation of the self. It says something about who we are or at least how we choose to be seen. Clothes carry meaning, which is why we wear certain outfits in some contexts and not in others. So, whern we explore the culture of the Indian sari, we must pay attention to its context, its variations, and its meaning for different members of Indian society.  In this post, we offer only a brief overview of the sari, but we hope it will help you begin to appreciate the complexity, diversity, and spirit of the cloth behind our silk flex-wraps.

To begin with, we must acknowledge that India has a highly stratified society. Hierarchies and identities are created by religious caste, age, sex, economics, subculture, and region.  Appropriateness in dress is necessarily wrapped within these limitations.  Since the beginning of the period of British rule in India, Western influence has introduced another layer of stratification.  It was often a means for upper-class Indians to disassociate themselves from the lower, uneducated classes.  The early 20th century brought with it Western machine-manufactured cloth.  It was a finer type of cloth and ushered in the widespread wearing of Western-style shirts and trousers by many men throughout India.  We have to make an important distinction here that women generally were expected to keep to more traditional clothing as part of the notions of female modesty and purity (as Western styles tainted Indian culture). Of course, Western influences have crept into Indian society more and more.

Little girls wear Western-influenced frocks, for example, as it is not appropriate for them to wear saris until they are older. In some regions, girls wear a half-sari (ghagra or pavada) before moving on to a regular sari.  Because the sari has traditionally also been associated with marriage and sexuality, many girls in their mid and late teenage years, don what is known as a shalwar kamiz (also known as a Punjabi suit , as it is especially popular in the Punjab region).  This garment consists of a tunic , trousers, and a scarf. More and more, the shalwar kamiz became the uniform for girls between 12 and 16 in government schools.

Example of a salwar kamiz

In the late 1980’s, it gained appeal for young women in colleges and universities for its more modest and less sexualized appearance.  It soon was associated as an option of dress for unmarried young women.

As women who pursued further education took the shalwar kamiz into the workplace, the convenience of the sari in various work environments was questioned.  This, of course, depends on the type of work one does.  Some women feel that the heavy sari cloth can be cumbersome to carry and others feel the shalwar kamiz restricts movement and cannot as easily be maneuvered when doing manual-intensive labor at home or in the fields. Their claims are, of course, influenced by their region, their work environment, their family preferences, and so on. While the shalwar kamiz has spread more widely and is more acceptable across age and other hierarchical divisions, the sari remains the standard dress for the majority of women.

The sari is a cloth, generally 6 yards long, that is draped around a petticoat and blouse, as

An example of a sari. Borrowed from: http://tinyurl.com/64z6x9m

seen in the picture. The pallu is the most decorative part of the sari, as it is the part draped over the right shoulder. The way the sari is fashioned allows some flexibility of expression to the wearer, as slight variations can mean different things. The pallu, for example, can be pinned or left free-flowing. When seen tucked firmly into the waist or held in a particularly tight way in one’s fist, it can signify seriousness, impatience, or anger. The pallu also may serve as a head-covering, when appropriate, signifying modesty and protecting one’s sexuality, though it can be worn in a more revealing way as well. Further, the pallu can serve a functional purpose, as a veil for nursing mothers. Another form of showing more or less modesty can be seen through the pinning of  the “skirt” part of the sari, which can also be manipulated to be higher or lower along the waist.

When a woman is married, it is customary for her parents (those who can afford it, anyway) to give her a gift of a trousseau or set of saris.  The different patterns, colors, and materials of the sari often reflect sub-caste regulations, family traditions, or other rules of divisions. Many women of upper classes prefer expensive synthetic cloth, but many are also now turning towards traditional hand-woven silk and cotton saris. Cotton saris are usually used for every-day wear, and silks are reserved for more formal occasions. Hand-woven cottons are not only expensive, but are also expensive to maintain (in laundry costs). Poorer women wear machine-manufactured, cheaper everyday cotton and mixed-fiber synthetic saris of lower-quality material.

After India’s independence from Great Britain, the Sari rose to become an emblem of national unity and identity, an aspiration to live up to the “ideal of India,” and to show loyalty to the nation.  They are not the only accepted form of Indian dress, but they certainly have become the accepted “formal Indian dress” (Banerjee & Miller, p. 237). As we mentioned at the beginning, clothing carries with it the meaning assigned by its wearer.  The structure of the sari, being a “one-size-fits-all” garment, allows it to be a common and appropriate gift and makes it easy to hand-down to younger or poorer relatives. However, it still bears the taste and care of its original owner. This is something that never quite leaves the sari cloth, and while its new owner(s) transform it and make it their own, a part of the original owner’s spirit does remain attached to the cloth. We hope that our f.a.c.t.s. customers bear this in mind and value the background of their flex-wraps, treating them with a special care that ought be given to these vintage, one-of-a-kind items.  We hope that our customers will also share in the spirit of recycling, and pass the flex-wraps on to another when they are no longer wanted, or re-purpose them for decoration or other use, when they are no longer wearable. In this way, we can honor the journeys the cloth has made across cultures, keeping within us a spirit of peace, of giving, of the universality of the human spirit, and of respect for Mother Earth.

Today’s update on f.a.c.t.s  is that we are still on schedule for opening this Friday, July 1st! We will continue posting on the topic of the sari cloth and the Navdanya non-profit we support in future posts and throughout the summer season. Starting Friday, we will also be showing different ways to wear your very flexible silk flex-wrap! 🙂

References: 

Banerjee, Mukulika, and Daniel Miller. 2003. The Sari. New York: Berg.

Norris, Lucy. 2010. Recycled Indian Clothing: Global Contexts of Reuse and Value. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

 Tarlo, Emma. 1996. Clothing Matters: dress and Identity in India. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation? An Introduction

Before starting our cross-cultural enterprise with f.a.c.t.s., we thought long about the problems of cultural  appropriation and how it is distinct from cultural appreciation. We, at f.a.c.t.s., want to give you confidence in our products and confidence in our business ethics, and we figured it would be most appropriate to simply address this issue right at the start! Because this will be a fairly long topic (we want to make sure we are thorough in our explanations), we will have to break it down into a few parts. Today, we will focus on introducing the topic. Please, feel free to join in on the conversation! Ask us any questions that you have. We will be happy to answer your concerns and address your opinions!

Let us first begin with definitions. What is cultural appropriation, in the first place? Appropriation, at its most basic level, has to do with the borrowing of traditions, symbols, or other artifacts, from cultures other than our own. It doesn’t really seem so bad, at first, considering we live in an increasingly globalized world, where cultural assimilation inevitably happens all the time. The tricky part, in our opinion, lies with the motivation for adopting the cultural element (whether it is the South African mbaqanga style of music, or the hijab) and who is doing the borrowing. It definitely changes the meaning when people from a dominant culture start assimilating elements from a subculture (i.e., when a white American might try to pass off wearing a bindi, because it “looks exotic”) when they are ignorant of the significance of those cultural elements, and even more so when they do not have respect for the people (they see the culture as an object disassociated from the people themselves). When you extract a cultural element without knowing the context behind it, you end up, whether you mean to or not,

  1. contributing to often offensive generalizations about the cultural group,
  2. invalidating how very diverse a culture really is,
  3. ignoring the history of oppression that is probably present, thus reinforcing the oppression, and
  4. often misrepresenting or distorting traditions that, for all you know, could even be sacred to the group, and
  5. in some cases, you might actually be cheating others out of money that should be going to them.

These 5 negatives of cultural appropriation make it a harmful and irresponsible thing to do.  Another more familiar word for these 5 negatives happens to be called “exploitation.” In the West, we have a long history of exploiting other cultures and marching through life with a very self-important and either unaware or (often) indifferent attitude that the world and everything in it is ours for the taking, but not the taking care of…

So, how do we account for these 5 negatives of cultural appropriation in a world that is becoming smaller and smaller? Is there a way to show appreciation of a culture without stepping on sensitive toes and reinforcing bad caricatures and negative stereotypes? Find out answers to these questions and how f.a.c.t.s. is doing things differently in our next couple of posts!



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