India, a brand of accessories to escape marginality: from the slums the story of Chamar, the brand of the untouchables

In India the revenge of the “untouchables” goes through leather. The Chamar community, formed by the last in the Hindu social pyramid, gathers the workers of the leather supply chain. Basically, the employees of tanneries or the producers of items such as bags and shoes: the upper castes do not get their hands dirty with animal-derived products. In many areas of the subcontinent, however, where the traditional social stratification still affects everyday life, this term has a derogatory declination, so much so that the Chamar, for example, cannot enter the homes of those who belong to castes considered superior. Sudheer Rajbhar, a Mumbai artist, created Chamar Studio last year, a sustainable brand for talented Chamar artisans. “I wanted to see how people would respond to a “Chamar brand” in luxury markets” says the artist to the local press. The project was initially embraced by a cobbler, Sachin Bhima Sakhare, and Suresh Agwane, founder of Made by Dharavi, a brand that sells leather accessories created by slum workers. The Chamar Studio bags are priced from 1,500 to 6,000 rupees (around 20 to 75 euros) and can be ordered from the social media pages of the brand or from its website. They are successful and have also arrived in Germany. Rajbhar shares 50% of the turnover, while the other half will serve to develop craftsmen’s Chamar Studios. And from leather creations the brand is expanding into other products and is attracting the attention of important e-commerce portals.

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