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I was a Sari

Gucci supports a group of hard-working women from underprivileged communities in Mumbai to become world-class artisans and gain financial independence

Founded by Stefano Funari in 2013, I Was a Sari is an Indian social enterprise selling upcycled products such as contemporary ready-to-wear and accessories made from pre-loved saris. In India, saris are traditional attire for women and a source of cultural pride.
Each I Was a Sari product is handcrafted by underprivileged Indian women, providing them with regular income and financial independence.

“Until yesterday there was no life for us. We just used to stay in our houses. But after joining I Was a Sari, we felt respected.”

Rubina Shaikh, Artisan

“Where most people see unemployed and uneducated women, we see potentially talented artisans who learn to design their future.”

Stefano Funari, Founder and CEO of I Was a Sari

Gucci has been supporting this initiative since 2018 in a number of ways, including a special embroidery training programme for female artisans. Working with four of Gucci’s partner export houses, the artisans have been trained in traditional techniques and a new premium line of I Was a Sari products has been launched.

The artisans, managed by I Was a Sari’s partner NGOs – Community Outreach Programme and Animedh Charitable Trust – completed their initial training and attended an additional workshop in 2019 at the Gucci Creative Office in Rome as part of the Gucci Changemakers Volunteering Program.

“Where most people see waste, we see value – where most people see a pile of old saris, we see the potential to create contemporary fashion.”

Stefano Funari, Founder and CEO of I Was a Sari

In 2019 I Was a Sari won the Circular Design Challenge Award, India’s first award for sustainable fashion, and the Responsible Disruptive Award in Milan, at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, the prestigious annual event that celebrates style in sustainable fashion.

I Was a Sari in numbers:
168 female artisans involved in the project by March 2020
160% increase in headcount and 270% increase in products sold since 2018

In summer 2020, an embroidery training program sponsored by Gucci’s Chime for Change initiative will be launched on an open-source digital platform with the goal of scaling the impact of the I Was a Sari-Gucci Equilibrium partnership and increasing the number of female beneficiaries.

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