This is a story of how our packaging created a joint solution out of two problems we identified separately (one intrinsic on the fashion industry and one intrinsic to the social fabric within Nepal). Once again, understanding our production and model as a fashion brand in constant connection with local necessities in Nepal enables to find effective and imaginative responses.
Two problems were identified separately:
The amount of waste generated through packaging in any fashion brand never made sense with our model of production.
The amount of abandoned bags of rice in the streets of Kathmandu, which may end up polluting further ecosystems.
We found a joint solution.
We gathered bags of rice had already transported grains within Nepal and adapted and stitched them to be used as bags. For the past three years, all our orders, small or big, are wrapped in our colorful rice bags having immediately a second (as packaging) and third lives (as bags).
Every design is unique since the varied and colourful graphics in Nepali rice bags are a fascinating array of important representations of Nepali visual culture.
Beyond reducing and reusing, our rice bags are an important signifier of one of the most important elements of Nepalese culture. Rice is not only the nutritional basis but also many cultural manifestations are celebrated around it.
As Pema, one of our colleagues from our Kathmandu team explains, babies, between their sixth and seventh month of life try rice for the first time, a moment that is celebrated under the name Pasni. Generally the baby is fed with rice pudding (milk, long rice and sugar) and in some occasions a gold or silver spoon is used.
Yomari Punhi is a festival from Kathmandu Valley in which the end of rice harvest is celebrated during the full moon between November and December.
It is celebrated with Yomari, a desert prepared with rice flour and filled with sugar or sesame seeds resembling the form of a fish. Yomari Punhi is a day related to love and romance, in which lovers traditionally met secretly during night amidst nature and with the only light of the full moon.
When we first collected rice bags Kaji’s workshop, one of our collaborators since the beginning, specialized exclusively in weaving. One of the ideas to amplify the capacity of Kaji’s workshop for their own autonomy was to introduce stitching. Stitching rice bags into adapted bags for our packaging was the the first step in that transition. Nowadays Kaji’s workshop stitches confidently amplifying their own capacity beyond Hemper’s project.