Designer Spotlight: Luke Swanson: Tripty

We caught up with the San Francisco based designer Luke Swanson, amid his busy schedule to tell us about his unique fashion line Tripty.

Tripty is a wonderful fashion line that is made by artisan women of Bangladesh, I had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful line at a fashion presentation sponsored by Fashion Group International, the global trade association of all fashion designers, textile makers, buyers, and press.

Tripty  designs can be found at purchased at tripty.org. Luke's holiday picks for us are Kantha Quilts. The quilts are made of Upcycled Saari and are individually designed and stitched by rural artisan women. Kantha means "story" in Bangla and these items truly carry with them the unique personality of the artisan who created it the garment. They are also wonderfully colorful so they make a wonderful addition to any living space. For those looking for something smaller, however, we have a variety of small clutches, which are perfect as a stocking stuffer.

However, the story behind these wonderful fashions is fascinating, it is also interesting to see how a young man studying economics and ecology used his knowledge to create a fashion brand that is not only well made and colorful, but it directly helps the people of that region.

1.What is your background in fashion and textiles?
This is ironic, I don' have a formal background in textiles or design. I'm formally trained as an Ecologist and Economist, but have always forayed into other disciplines. I was in Bangladesh working and studying the effects of climate change on marginalized and minority populations when the Rana Plaza building collapse occurred. That was what really launched me into the fashion world that I am in now.

2. What was your motivation behind Tripty?
My first realization came about when I was doing field work in rural Bangladesh and saw there were lots of abandoned projects all around the country which were not being run anymore because of lack of funding. Then the idea of having a business, which has a positive social impact while also creating revenue for itself and is self sustaining became a really attractive idea. This idea was crystallized when the Rana Plaza building collapse occurred in April, 2013. Over 1200 people died in that catastrophe and the social backlash was a really powerful thing to witness. We became extremely motivated to create something different and it's been a constant, arduous, but wonderful journey.

3. How do you think you are helping the people of Bangladesh through Tripty?
Our main focus is to benefit the people of Bangladesh has been to provide employment to the most vulnerable people in the country and provide training, design help, quality control and a variety of modern tools that can be used to effectively manage a supply chain. We also work with local artisans on a personal level so that we can understand their abilities as well as the background behind the techniques and motifs they use. This allows the design process to be more fluid and collaborative instead of the usual top down method that is prevalent in fast fashion. We want artisans to be proud of their work and culture. Finally we operate with a transparent supply chain, providing as much information as possible about the materials, processes that made our items. By pushing for transparency in our brand we hope to pave the way for larger brands to also provide more information in the future, whereby allowing consumers to make informed decisions.

4. Tripty uses sustainable products in its clothing development, many companies use sustainable and other key phrases what makes your clothing completely sustainable and how is this demonstrated through the supply chain?
Our goal is to avoid creating waste at any time, instead identifying processes which are inefficient and tapping into those,  we work with Pineapple farmers in the northern region of the country. These farmers used to pay to dispose of the leaves which could not be sold. We helped create a system which purchases the leaves from the farmers, shreds it and spins it into strong fabric. All the small scraps which cannot be used in that production are then gathered and made into paper for our labels and promotional materials. This is only one example, but we are pursuing similar goals of zero waste in all the supply chains we used. We have also conducted trainings on natural dyes to eliminate toxic chemicals and minimize our water usage.

5. Lastly, How is Tripty continuing to bring awareness to the Rana Plaza incident and to ensure that members of the fashion industry that such an incident does not occur again?
Last year, I worked with individuals in over sixty countries around the world in a movement called Fashion Revolution Day. This movement marked the Rana Plaza collapse and encourages consumers to actively push for transparency. These worldwide events was the global top trending topic on Twitter that day. We aim to use these successes as inspiration as we move forward in our current work.

Thank you Luke Swanson the founder of Tripty. org and his response to create a solution to a problem that exists globally.

Please support Tripty through purchases at tripty.org

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