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Case study: Swat Valley Guild peace-building initiative and Artisan enterprise for community empowerment and sustainable development

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The Swat Valley Guild (SVG) is engaging local artisans in the Swat Valley region of Northern Pakistan with the global fashion community. The local artisan heritage is centuries old and is under threat from conflict, climate change and industrialization. The SVG is organizing a demand-centric approach, which allows the artisans to engage with the global community and ensures it solves some key challenges of the fashion industry as well, focusing on waste, sustainability and people development. There is a unique form of embroidery (Panjara) indigenous to the Swat Valley being preserved by this project. Artisans from the Guild are changing the face of the fashion industry. The local artisan ecosystems allow for flexible bespoke production, enabling the fashion industry to solve some of its key challenges. These being waste, pollution and people insensitivity. Fashion as a discipline helps the individual to find him/herself through self-expression. It supports new and original form, which in time finds its function. When the founders of the SVG first decided to set up the Guild in 2016 in the Swat Valley Region, Northern Pakistan, they had to decide how to position this high social impact business in the open market to support the fashion industry with its key challenges. They felt the openness, innovativeness and the global presence of the fashion industry would be the best place to start.

Keywords: Asia; Pakistan; artisan textiles; embroidery; fair trade; peace building; sustainable fashion; textiles

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Swat Valley Guild

Publication date: March 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • We all wear clothes. We are all therefore invested at some level in the production and consumption of clothing. This journal intends to embrace issues and themes that are both universal and personal, addressing [and dressing] us all. Increasingly, as we all become accomplished semioticians, clothing becomes the key signifier in determining social interaction and behaviour, and sartorial norms dictate socio-cultural appropriateness. Following the rise of fashion theory, on an everyday level, we all understand that our clothes 'say' something about us, about our times, nation, system of values. Yet clothing is not fashion; clothing is a term derivative from 'cloth', to cover the body, whereas fashion alludes to the glamorous, the ephemeral and the avant garde. We wear clothes, but imagine fashion-an unattainable ideal.
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