Artisan Hut: Where tradition meets concerns for environment
It is true that regular cotton we use are contributing to environmental pollution
When the sun seems to be blazing at the same intensity of any summer day, you need to look into your wardrobe to bring out the most comfortable cotton clothes to wear. You are out bedecked in that shirt or tops and having a nice chilled day at work. Suddenly someone comes up and accuses you of being responsible for polluting the environment with ¼ pound chemicals. Would not you consider him or her crazy?
It is true that regular cotton we use are contributing to environmental pollution. This is why the idea of organic cotton is getting so popular these days. Sustainable fashion is something that many people are not only mulling over but also putting into practice. Sustainable fashion is about being fashionable without harming the environment.
Brands like Alternative apparel, Amour Vert, EcoVibe, Fair Indigo either making their clothes out of organic cotton or using recyclable materials.
Monju Haque, the owner of Artisan Hut had always been a patroniser of traditional khadi and handloom cloths. Because these fabrics are not harmful for environment. But the fabric is comfortable and styling is easy too, through organic cotton is expensive. So, Artisan Hut started its journey in 2002 with the aim of making sustainable fashion fashionable.
Monju Haque always wanted to promote tradition, he reached out to the weavers in Shekherchowk, Narshingdi. He fixed their machines and taught them how upgrade the hardware used in handlooms.
He ran extensive research on how one can carry on with one's work without leaving much environmental footprint. Not just that, the house had equipped itself with an ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant) so that the wastewater cannot damage the environment.
But the problem arose when Monju realised that even growing cotton harms the environment more than one could imagine. He began to see light at the end of tunnel when he came to know about organic cotton.
He learnt that growing organic cotton involved the least amount of chemicals. He realised, Bangladesh being a major garment exporting country, it is better to go for organic cotton for long-term benefit.
But the idea was least popular in Bangladesh. So he went to Gujrat to gather in-depth knowledge of it. He applied the process in Bangladesh context as soon as he came back. Growing organic cotton was more of a hassle than regular cotton. But he was ready to take all the challenges as the main concern was protecting the environment.
Even the fact that organic cotton has no visible difference with the cotton available in the market does not bother him at all as it has long term benefits for human and environmental health.
Monju had no plan for Artisan Hut at the outset. After leaving his job with Aarong, he joined a buying house, where he made a friend who was aware of his good reputation in Aarong.
His friend was a representative of Global Village (Japan). He wanted Monju to help him with a few orders. He was willing to provide all sort of help. Monju after hesitating a few days took it up as a challenge.
He met with instant success. His fabrics and designs were highly appreciated. Then he got the confidence to start Artisan Hut, a house of his own.
He had been into export for a long time. Countries like UK, Poland, and Italy etc to see Artisan Hut as a reliable source for clothing.
It follows an organic method developing their designs and has no paid designer to churn out designs. Whenever the orders are placed they sit with the weavers who have experience of a lifetime. And together they come up with a design solution.
A few years back he thought of making apparels for the domestic market. So he decided to occupy a corner at Jatra Mela and started online operation.
When tradition conserves environment
According to one of the workers, Shahin who had been working here for three years says, "I have a five-year-old boy. I have to go home frequently and there is no pay cut for that. I do not have to endure rebuke for that too."
Monju wanted his workers to feel at home and enjoy flexible work schedule. Because representing your tradition to the world fairs is not an easy task and you would not be able to give the best if you are not at your best.
He feels it has been quite a difficult job with less advocacy in the field.
According to Monju, "Environment-friendly fashion is a popular idea. It is easier for us to achieve this as our traditional ways of making fabrics have always been an environmentally friendly. The problem is policy makers do not come forward with a proper plan. It is hard to work from personal interest all the time. If the authority comes to our aid, growing organic cotton and making organic cotton clothes can lead to a revolution."