In the fashion industry, pattern-making is a male preserve. But a training programme is helping women cut through tradition Nishar Bano, 26, had always loved making clothes. But the Class 5 passout had a tough time convincing her father and brother to let her take up a job at a garment factory in Delhi.
Finally, she stitched a stylish jacket and trousers for her brother and dad. That did the trick. “It made them see my talent,” says Nishar, who not only managed to get a job that pays her minimum wages — Rs 16,000 per month in Delhi for skilled workers — but became one of the few female pattern-makers in India’s fashion industry.
Nishar is the product of MasterG, a year-long garment design and skill development programme started by designer Gayatri Jolly that has trained over a thousand women from low-income and marginalised communities, such as SC/ST groups and religious minorities. After completing the programme, some have started their own businesses, some are working with brands such as Doodlage, Dhuri and Ekam, and others have turned teachers and are grooming other girls like them to break into the fashion industry.
Traditionally, pattern-making was a skill exclusively taught to men, passed down from father to son or to male apprentices. Women were left out because it would have required them to step out of home and work in shops. “There has been a systemic exclusion of women from this skill and we want to change this,” says Jolly, who runs the programme in collaboration with NGO and CSR partners in three locations, two in Delhi and one in Haryana. Pattern-making, the process of tracing parts of the garment on big pieces of paper that carry written instructions on the type of cut, fold or stitch for that part, can be crucial as it interprets the designer’s sketch on paper and converts it into real-size measurements. The fabric is then cut, according to these patterns.
Interestingly, it is the male tailors — the original masterjis — who teach pattern-making to the women at MasterG. Resentful about the idea of training women at first, they eventually came around, says Jolly. Ten of these MasterGians, including Nishar, have landed jobs at Heimat, a fashion label Jolly launched early this year. The Heimat (German for homeland) factory in Okhla is an all-women affair, with everything from designing and pattern-making to stitching and trial done by them.
One of the workers, Ritika, 19, says she went without food for two days to convince her father to let her work at Heimat. “I live in a village on the outskirts of Gurgaon and it takes me two hours to reach Okhla. My parents were not okay with the idea of me travelling so far. They said ‘log kya kahenge’. But I told them I don’t care what others say, I just want to do this job,” Ritika narrates with pride.
Twenty-two-year-old Rajni used to stitch garments for as less as Rs 50 to finance her education. Today, as a pattern-maker with Heimat, and a self-financed graduate, she makes clothes that will soon be selling from fashion stores abroad. “I want to take MasterG forward. I want to help other girls like me,” says Rajni who also underwent MasterG training. Jolly, a fashion desing graduate from Parsons School of Design, New York, is hoping this design eco-system will equip thewomen to have a career in fashion. “From here they can become a merchandiser, supervisor or a designer. I hope they move up the ladder and make way for a new batch of women.”
Source : Times Of India