DUBAI: Ramadan is an important season and collection for UAE-based Kaleidoscope by Mimi not only because they specialize in kaftans and kimonos, but for another, more significant reason — because the Holy Month’s spirit of charity truly resonates with the community-focused ethical fashion and accessories brand.
Created in 2012 when founder and head designer Mimi Shakhashir couldn’t find unique, interesting clothes for her daughter Jana, Kaleidoscope now encompasses a whole range of products, from dresses and separates, to pouches, jewelry and other accessories. Everything is hand crafted by artisans from under-privileged and displaced communities in countries such as India, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco.
“I try and buy locally made and ethically sourced materials from my travels and make everything in workshops, not in factories,” Shakhashir told Arab News. “I want this brand to make a difference, no matter how small.”
While the entire brand has been conceived around Shakhashir ‘s travels, the Ramadan 2018 collection is inspired by 1940s Hollywood — particularly Hedy Lamarr in the film “Zeigfeld Girl” — with celestial objects being a recurring theme across the various modest garments. Floral prints and patchwork patterns make an appearance in the abaya-kimonos while clients can customize their metallic kaftans with hand-embroidered moons and stars.
These handmade creations are the work of a group of young girls from the Sanipani Muni school at the Food For Life Foundation in Vrindavan, India, for whom the learned skills of embroidery and sewing provides an avenue for income generation that can help sustain their families. It is just one of the several foundations and NGOs the brand works with. Kaleidoscope by Mimi seeks to ensure all the artisans and tailors are paid well over fair trade rates, to help them find a way out of poverty.
“We at Kaleidoscope help these girls learn their craft and, at the same time, earn for their families at home,” Shakhashir said. “At first, I used their traditional designs in my products, then started fusing a more fashionable approach with more funky designs and ideas, while encouraging their own creativity and artistic ideas.”
The success of the designs, and with it, the growing demand has led to the initiative being expanded to accommodate young mothers of the schoolgirls, empowering them in the process.
An active part of the global fashion alt movement, ‘Who made my clothes,’ Kaleidoscope by Mimi can trace each of its pieces back to the smiling faces who are responsible for their creation. So this Ramadan, if you’d like to like to tick both the high fashion and benefaction boxes in one go, buying into this brand is a great idea.