Bachhara to work? Not quite…

No, I never can resist a play on words. Although you probably wish I would go back to work so I didn’t have time on my hands to muck around with language. But if I were back at work, I would not have time to swan around in the garden modelling this amazing brand for you.

I used Bachhara in the Fair@Square fashion show last year and in 2010 too, and interviewed its founder and designer Amanda Ryan for Peppermint not long ago. The interview is only in the hard copy version, but there’s lots of other great stuff on the site so head over and have a look! And DEFINITELY read more about Amanda and her brand on the Bachhara site. I am not going to explain all about it here but basically Amanda has set up the brand to help disadvantaged women and communities in a slum area in Bangladesh. She is one very dedicated, inspirational young lady. (And beautiful too – that’s her modelling on the website!)

Amanda let me hang on to the pieces from the fashion show for a bit so that I could have a proper look at them and do a bit of posing!

Amanda has obviously put a lot of thought into the dresses. Not only are the colours and prints gorgeous, the shapes are very loose and flattering for ladies of just about any size. Although I think that the maxi-dresses are made for people who are somewhat taller than myself as I kept stepping on the hems!

As someone who makes her own clothes, I was curious to see how the Bachhara garments are constructed. There is very little shaping – most of the dresses are simply lengths of material which make use of a few strategic stitches or, as is the case with this animal print one, a casing with shoulder ties running through it which the wearer adjusts to fit.

This mini-dress is particularly clever as it is essentially a rectangle which has been folded in half with a hole cut for the head and stitching up the side and centre to encase the torso, and then, to add interest, another hole cut along the “sleeve” section to expose the upper arm.

Such a simple design, but perfect for swishing around in, and it doesn’t look so simple when set in motion.

The use of colour gives two dresses of the same design a completely different look.

There are dark pink, orange and cream panels in this version of a one-shouldered maxi-dress…

…which looks quite different in monotone lilac…

I really respect Amanda for coming up with such effective designs as she is not a trained fashion designer or patternmaker – although maybe it is for that exact reason that she’s been able to create such basic patterns for the dresses.

The women in Bangladesh who sew for Bachhara all receive sewing training but obviously they are not going to be able to make intricately tailored pieces overnight. So creating these simple designs is really for their benefit – they match the women’s sewing capabilities, but allow them
to work on something beautiful and earn a wage for it. Well, at least that’s my interpretation of how these designs have come about – on the surface the dresses look so simple, but a lot of consideration and effort have gone into making them that way.

Of course there are many other fabulous Fair Trade and ethical brands out there, so if you have any discoveries, let me know! And if anyone feels like sending me more delightful dresses to pose in, they’re very welcome too!