Here’s a retail chain that specialises in products sourced from Indian villages with profits percolating to the artisans and craftspeople
More than fifty years ago, well before American companies were sourcing from India, John Bissell left his position as a buyer for Macy’s New York to work as a consultant for the Ford Foundation, in order to develop India’s export potential in its emerging textile industry.
Bissell discovered a village-based industry with a profusion of skills hidden from the world. Determined to showcase Indian handloom textiles while providing equitable employment to traditional artisans, Bissell established Fabindia in 1960 in order to fuse the best aspects of East/West collaboration.
Fabindia today is run by his son, William, and it is today a successful retail business presenting Indian textiles in a variety of natural fibres, and home products including furniture, lights and lamps, stationery, home accessories, pottery and cutlery.
Retail outlets are located in in all major Indian cities – 112 at last count – in addition to international stores in Dubai, UAE; three stores in Bahrain; Doha, Qatar and Rome, Italy.
Fabindia sources its products from over 40,000 craft persons and artisans across India. They support the craft traditions of India by providing a market and thereby encourage and sustain rural employment.
Fabindia’s furniture is mostly made from mango timber; the wood is widely used because of the wood’s natural resistance to water.
“Furniture produced from mango timber is characterised by a grey or greenish-brown colour with a coarser texture than teak wood, giving it an attractive rustic appearance,” says Richa Joshi, store manager at Fabindia Dubai.
“The wood at the centre of the tree, the heartwood, can be pinkish, light or dark brown, or golden with occasional dark streaks running through it, which makes for a very exciting grain.” Mango wood is spread all over India and thus makes furniture production affordable. And after a certain age, mango wood attains a similar hardness as teak wood.
A dedicated team of professionals is in place to handle product customisation and interior consulting for heritage hotels, resorts and corporate houses.