A synergy of minds - how we work collaboratively with India

As we start a brand-new season and begin to introduce you to the pieces we have been dreaming about, designing, sampling and creating for the last six months - I thought now would be a good time to pause and explain a little more about the design and making process.

For every brand working with India, or any other country, the relationship between designer and maker will be different. In this blog post I want to outline a bit more about how our own unique relationship works so blog readers, newsletter subscribers and customers can better understand how heart-led, creative and collaborative our business model is - why I am so fiercely proud of it and what I think makes it so special.

Firstly, I think there is a common misconception with consumers that 'made in India' means made cheaply; that it is chosen by a brand purely from a position of fiscal power and as a buyer for 20 years I have seen first hand why this may be the case; fast fashion is absolutely still taking advantage of unethical labour practices, not just in India, but globally.

It's hard as a 'made in India' Western brand to overcome this stereotype and as the founder I want to make sure I am always advocating and championing the businesses we work with in India so they can be seen as the modern, forward-thinking design houses they are - not just the 'cheap option'.

Ours is a relationship built on creative collaboration; the work we do together helps both of our small, family-run businesses grow in tandem - we are a formidable team - Lalit, the founder of our block-printing house in Jaipur always jokes that I dream in colour and he dreams in print! The winning combo!

Just as our team here in London is growing (we are 5 now!), Lalit has been able to expand his premises and grow his team this year, with a new production manager, Komal (below left) and designer Natasha (below right). The impact that buying from an ethical brand like ours has is huge - the ripple effects it has for positive change cannot be underestimated and this year has shown that more than ever, I want to show more and more to customers and followers that impact; each dress sold isn't a number on a bottom line for a faceless company, it is enriching all of team Dilli Grey's lives.

The biggest difference in our working relationship with the team in India this year has been finding a way of working across the globe, remotely. It's only been a year but seems like a lifetime ago that Lalit and I were sat together drawing, colour sampling and building our AW20 collection... then COVID-19 struck and we have had to find a new way of collaborating; chatting each day via Whatsapp and Zoom calls, sending swatches and samples back and forward... we are lucky enough to have a brilliant photographer, Puneet on the ground for us in Jaipur who has been able to capture all the 'work in progress' of our designs being printed, which we will share throughout the season as collections launch.

You can learn more about our sustainability policies and ethical manifesto but as always, if you have any questions, talking about Dilli Grey and our design process is my life's passion and I'd be happy to chat - vickie@dilligrey.com.

COMING SOON - I will also be doing a series of Lives on Instagram with the team in Jaipur, talking about the design process, the heritage of hand-block prints and the future of sustainable fabrics, more confirmed dates for these coming soon!

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