Fashion Revolution Week: About the Makers of O My Bag

Fashion Revolution Week: About the Makers of O My Bag

Posted by Rebecca S on

It's Fashion Revolution Week every week at The Fair Trader. Our mission is to walk the walk when it comes to empowering - rather than exploiting - the artisans in our supply chain.

Transparency about factory locations alone is not enough. We want you to know not just where the factories are located, but also what our suppliers are doing to ensure ethical standards of work, including providing a living wage, safe work conditions and opportunities for women.

Our team search the globe for suppliers who share our values, and we were so excited to find O My Bag, a social enterprise who partner with artisans in Kolkata, India and Italy to make impeccable quality, sustainable leather and vegan bags.

So without further ado, let us introduce you to the makers!

O My Bag Artisan - Kolkata, India

Snapshot

Where: Bags made in Kolkata, India using leather from tanneries in Kolkata and Tuscany, Italy. Apple Leather is produced in Bolzano, Italy.
Who: Founded by Paulien Wesselink (The Netherlands)
When: Launched in 2010
Products: Leather and vegan bags and accessories
Materials: Vegetable-tanned leather, Apple Leather, organic cotton, brass
Values: Female-owned, sustainability, paying a living wage, vegan options, women's empowerment
Certifications: SA8000 certified factories, LWG (Leather Working Group) certified tanneries

 

"Changing the world, one bag at a time."

About the Makers

O My Bag partners with a number of factories in Kolkata, India. Each factory has been hand selected because they operate in line with O My Bag's social and environmental values. 

Every factory is SA8000 certified, a certification system accredited through a third party auditing process. The SA8000 Standard covers areas including child labor, forced labor, health and safety, discrimination, working hours and remuneration.

O My Bag strives to pay everyone who works on their products a living wage. They achieve this through the 'Better Life Premium', a premium that is added to the product price that O My Bag pays to their partner factories, directly benefiting the workers. Part of the process of empowering workers also includes training workers on a range of topics including women's empowerment, financial literacy and independence.

Springfield Factory

An artisan at Springfield Factory

Partnering with O My Bag since 2015, the Springfield Factory is located in Kolkata, India and employs 77 workers. The business was founded by J.S. Sawhney whose family has been crafting bags for over sixty years.

The artisans at Springfield are covered by health and accident insurance, and the employers provide social benefits including retirement and unemployment funds. Women are paid equally and are entitled to maternity leave.

Springfield highly values sustainability, and makes efforts to conserve energy and water, as well as ensuring factory waste is recycled.

O My Bag - I made your bag makers Kolkata, India
Artisans at Springfield Factory

STC Factory

STC Factory - O My Bag Kolkata, India

Ipshita (left) and Jessica (right) at STC

STC is a family owned business based in Kolkata, India. O My Bag have been partnering with STC since 2015, and Ipshita is the name of the amazing woman who runs the O My Bag department. Her father founded the business, and Ipshita has been working there for seven years now.

About 500 artisans are employed at STC, and the company has a goal to “employ as many women as possible”. In an effort to increase the number of women on their team, STC works with local organisations to teach young women leather work skills, providing them with training and employment opportunities.

All workers at STC receive healthcare and social benefits, including retirement funds.

Fashion revolution - O My Bag STC Kolkata, India

Mapletree Factory

Also located in Kolkata is Mapletree. This factory was co-founded by two friends, Prithijit and Dharmesh, the former of whom comes from a family of leather workers.

Mapletree employs 120 artisans full time which includes 30 women and 6 people with disabilities.

Leather Tanneries

O My Bag Vegetable Tanned Leather Tanneries

The O My Bag team work with two leather tanneries - Shee Shen in Kolkata, India, and Conceria Nuova Grenoble in Tuscany, Italy. Both tanneries are LWG (Leather Working Group) Certified, which ensures that they meet the current eco standards for sustainable leather work, with the former being Gold Rated and the latter being Silver Rated. The two tanneries both use vegetable tanning processes.

After inspecting a number of tanneries, O My Bag chose to work with Shee Shen and Conceria Nuova Grenoble because of their fair and ethical work practices.

Vegetable Tanned Leather

Most leather these days is chrome-tanned, a process that uses chemicals to tan the hide. This process can be very damaging to the environment because it can cause chemicals like chromium and lead to leach into waterways. Chrome-tanning leather is also much more energy intensive because the process relies on the use of more machinery.

Vegetable tanned leather on the other hand has a significantly lower environmental impact. The leather is tanned using natural vegetable tannins that come from tree bark so the process doesn't pollute local rivers. Vegetable tanned leather tends to be more durable and lasts longer, making it the perfect material for slow fashion accessories. Plus vegetable tanned leather has that priceless, authentic woody leather smell that you just don't get with chrome-tanned leather products.

Shee Shen Leather Tannery India

Vegan Apple Leather

Vegan Apple Leather Handbag - O My Bag

All Apple Leather is made from Italian grown apples at the FRUMAT factory in Bolzano, Italy.

This vegan leather-alternative is made from apple skins and cores salvaged from the apple juice industry's waste pile. Cellulose is derived from the apples and turned into an incredibly versatile material that can be manipulated into different textures and densities.

Shop O My Bag accessories here.

About the makers Fashion Revolution Fashion Revolution Week

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