Ethical Summer Style

by Rona Berg

Now that spring is here, it’s time to think about summer, and that means the beach.

But it isn’t always easy to find gorgeous resort wear, especially pieces made from soft and chic sustainable textiles, which you can feel good about wearing—not only because they look great, but also because they give back to the community that makes them. 

The new caftan-inspired luxury collection of socially conscious resort wear from Pondicherie is made with sustainability and women’s empowerment in mind. Each garment is created from hand-dyed textiles sourced in India. 

Founder Devon Fisher is dedicated to empowering the women who make them by providing them with training and skills they can rely on to earn a living wage for themselves and their families. Since the company launched, the Pondicherie weaving partner in India has been able to increase the hiring of weavers and provide childcare for the women in the collective.

We spoke with Fisher to find out what inspires her and what’s involved in sourcing and producing these beautiful pieces.

Pondicherie founder, Devon Fisher

What made you decide to launch Pondicherie? What’s the significance of the name?

I've always been interested in style, and I wanted to create a company with my own hands from the ground up. I really love creating chic, versatile pieces for the modern woman. This new adventure has been informed by my early professional life in the nonprofit world where I focused on girls' and women’s issues. 

I think it is becoming more and more a part of the fashion conversation, but what a lot of people don't realize is just how unethical making clothing has become, and many of the people who suffer from this system are women. 

I knew that I wanted to create beautiful resort wear, and I knew I wanted to do it in a way that enriched the lives of the people behind the garments. My love of textiles drew me to India, where I found myself in the seaside town of Pondicherry. I was so inspired there that I named my line after that town (with a small twist).

Why is sustainability important to you?

I'm so inspired by brands that are making big steps toward accountability and making slow fashion in an ethical, sustainable way. Every single worker should be compensated fairly for their work and should have access to education and training to further themselves. Hand-in-hand with this are safe working conditions and manufacturing processes that do not actively destroy our planet.

Every fashion line has a huge responsibility to constantly evaluate their footprint on nature. I was fortunate to grow up by the ocean with a very close relationship to the earth. We built this line to be gentle on our planet and empowering for the women who work with us. I can't imagine doing business any other way.

What were some of the challenges you faced in building a socially conscious luxury brand?

Our artisans are a collective of incredibly talented women. It can be challenging to set up an ethical chain of supply. It's important to have a strong connection to your manufacturing partners, to work with them in person and understand their needs and the day to day reality of the people behind the clothes. 

The women who weave textiles for Pondichérie often come to our community without traditional weaving backgrounds. Our partners in India train them in traditional handloom and dyeing traditions from passed down from generations in India. The crafting of these textiles supports each female weaver to be financially autonomous, an opportunity every woman should have access to. I am so proud of the quality and unique story behind our fabric. 

What is your big-picture mission?

Our big-picture mission is to continue supporting and empowering our artisans while creating chic pieces that women enjoy wearing at home and abroad. And, of course, to continue the conversation around fashion becoming ethical, sustainable, and responsible. I love the role that caftans played in the carefree, jetset lifestyle of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and I want continue to design resort wear that harkens back to that spirited time for the modern woman. pondicherie.com

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