Pashin’ is a small family business created by us, (Mateja and Chris) in 2010, in the lovely Slovenian hills on the sunny side of the Alps…
Pashin’ is short for “pashing”, Australian slang for french kissing, one of the simple pleasures in life! Our clothes are like pashing, deliciously unforgettable…
Pashin’ comes from “passionate” and we decided that if we follow our passion we would bring happiness to ourselves and others.
Mateja and Chris are both artists. Mateja’s into 2-D stop motion animation and painting and Chris makes analog black and white “art photography”.
Pashin’ creations are inspired by ethnic art. The original and colourful woolly hats, gloves and scarves, are inspired by ancient tribal dot paintings from Australia, bringing the spiritual vibrations of this art into our clothing. Our woollen items are made from the softest New Zealand wool, by an expert knitting team of women artisans in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal.
For Summer, Pashin’ has a novel line of unisex pants, skirts, dresses and shirts, some with aboriginal-art-inspired motifs. The mostly free-size clothes are made in Thailand from high-quality Thai cotton, by a Japanese master taylor using silk-screen blocks to produce exclusive prints. We also print rayon with our original designs in Thailand.
We spend a lot of time every year in Nepal as well, working with our tailors in small ateliers, perfecting Mateja’s innovative designs.
We follow the fabrication of our clothes from selection of cotton, dyes, buttons and zips all the way to to the final sewing stage. So we can guarantee our fair trade and ecological principles are for real.
Pashin’ is about “slow fashion”, quality-based, not time-based. We work with well-paid local artisans, free from stressful deadlines (you can’t produce quality without time). We create exquisite artistic clothing and accessories that are ethically sound and super groovy at the same time. Pashin’ opposes the standardization of taste and instant disposable fashion, by creating hand-crafted garments, to be treasured for many years and not just discarded after one season.
Pashin’ aficionados can shape their own creative identity with “long-loved” made-to-last clothes that use premium natural materials like high-grade wool and cotton, while respecting the cultural identity and fair working environment of the artisans who make them. Our idea is to make a difference, while dressing you differently.
WHY FAIR TRADE?
We spent years bumming around the world. We both dropped into the university grinder and popped out debt-free… Mateja with a masters degree in business and Chris as a journalism school drop-out.
To pay our way round the globe we did a lot of odd jobs, including:
barnacle-scraper, cotton-chipper, tennis-racket sander, avant-garde puppeteer, bookseller, porn magazine photo editor, postcard publisher, pen exporter, lettuce washer, wedges frier, daily newspaper cartoonist, war journalist, sunset cruise host, boat builder, ad-campaign assistant, drug company researcher, english teacher, book designer, round-the-world yacht crew, brass polisher, scenographer, beach bar cocktail maker and dj, translator, Mother Theresa volunteer, fruit and vegetable seller, market spruiker, newspaper pamphlet inserter, gardener…
Most of these jobs were pretty badly paid and temporary, but we got the point…
Work sucks. But we always had options… Clothing workers in Asia usually don’t have as much choice…
In growing economies in Asia semi-skilled garment work is often done under poor conditions and is far from fair for the worker. This is part of the Death Economy as John Perkins writes about in The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
We choose the Life Economy!
So we design and make clothes in Nepal and Thailand with small family businesses who treat their workers fairly and we return, for a few months every year, to work with tailors in their ateliers and small family-owned factories.
That way we are sure the original working conditions we inspected are still fair trade conditions. We also pay a little more for our tailoring, so we receive a much higher quality of clothes and both sides get a better quality of life.
With our customers in Europe and developed countries becoming more attracted to fair trade and the life economy, they are happy to pay a few euros more for the quality and equality their purchase gives!
Fair trade has become a social movement which holds to the original principles of fair trade certification. Due to onerous obligations, excessive financial disclosure and time and costs to reach certification level… most of the small ateliers we work with are not chasing certification.
So we decided to stick with the principles of fair trade for our small family ateliers but are encouraging and helping our two biggest partners in Nepal to get a Fair Trade Certification.
We also plan to join the Fashion Revolution movement (“I made your clothes”) where we introduce you to the people who make your clothes.
Pashin’ follows the World Fair Trade Organization ten principles of fair trade.
The principles of fair trade Pashin’ adheres to, are:
- Create opportunities for disadvantaged producers: We work with small independent family businesses, co-operatives and organisations with economic self-sufficiency goals including poverty reduction.
- Transparency and accountability: There is good communication and transparency in the atelier with participation of all members of the production chain. Workers influence the way the business operates and develops.
- Fair trading practices: No exploitation of marginalized workers; 100 percent payment in advance for goods; wages paid first from this pre-payment; no cancellation of orders; no copying of other trader’s fashion designs; promotion of traditional skills as reflected in their craft designs.
- Payment of a fair price: We pay wages that can still be sustained by the market, but well above the minimum wage payment for each country we work in. Equal pay for equal work for women and men. Better pay means better quality sewing or knitting, as the best tailors and knitters are valuable and command higher wages. As we receive a higher quality product, this helps us satisfy more customers long-term. Everyone wins. Also skilled clothing workers’ wages rise every year because of inflation and a shortage of skilled labour in Nepal and Thailand. For example, there is a massive drain of skilled workers leaving Nepal to the Middle East and South-East Asia.
- No child labour. No forced labour: We guarantee,100 percent, that no child or forced labour is used to produce any of our products. We inspect the ateliers every year while we work there, including surprise visits. We also receive guarantees that anyone working at home is not making children work.
- No discrimination. Gender equity. Freedom of association: No discrimination by the factory in hiring, pay, training, promotion, firing or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV status or age. Women and men have equal access to promotion and equal power to influence direction and the environment that shapes their livelihoods. Women in our small family businesses are nearly always in charge of production and running the factory. Women also benefit from sewing at home when they have children or family or simply want to reduce lost commuting time. Our ateliers not only allow but encourage trade unions and collective bargaining because it means greater worker loyalty and also provides guarantees for the owner, such as number of production days and hours of work.
- Ensuring good working conditions: The ateliers must provide comfortable, safe and healthy working conditions. No toxic products or Azo dyes, enough toilets and work breaks, proper seating, good lighting and pleasant working environment. A typical factory we work with will have an 8 hour day with 1 hour for free cooked lunch prepared by an in-house cook, and two 20-minute tea-breaks. In busy times, if overtime is needed, it is paid better. Workers are free to work at home instead of the factory and no-interest loans are provided by the owner for any sewing machine purchases for the home. Our hand-knitters work together in a community house in the country-side near Kathmandu, chatting, singing sometimes and sitting cross-legged on cushions in a “knitting circle”, with natural light and good vibes. Pashin’ and our largest factory also donated money to rebuild many of our knitters’ houses after the devastating May 2015 earthquake.
- Capacity building: Our innovation in design means workers are often learning new skills, such as when we design complicated embroidery or knitting patterns for our wool beanies. This empowers the workers by widening their skill-set, making them more attractive to other innovative fashion houses and/or other employers. The ateliers we work with will often support smaller supplier start-ups with advice and financial partnerships such as when a wool-spinning unit was set-up in Kathmandu after many years of the wool being spun in India. This provides employment and allows closer supervision of fair trade principles locally. In general we encourage our ateliers to build up community skills and capacity of other small suppliers instead of just importing cheap components. For example: The use of local, traditional wooden buttons instead of imported plastic ones.
- Promote Fair Trade: We actively promote Fair Trade principles to our customers when we meet them in the markets. We inspect and work a few months a year with our small Asian ateliers, to achieve our commitment to trade fairly. We commit to honest adverting and marketing techniques.
- Respect for the environment: We source locally from sustainably-managed renewable sources where possible; We always encourage environmentally sound production practices such as non-toxic chemicals, to minimize pollution. Our ateliers use recycled and easily biodegradable materials for packing, and goods are dispatched by sea, wherever possible.
Is Fair Trade enough?
If all the businesses in the world, large and small, adopted fair trade principles, this would be a revolution that would wipe the ugly smile off exploitative globalisation and perhaps give trade a better reputation for helping emerging economies.
At Pashin’ we decided that if we could, with our customers’ support, afford to give something extra back to a country where we produce our clothing then we should. So we launched Pashin’ Sparks in 2014 in partnership with Maiti Nepal and founder, well-known social worker Anuradha Koirala in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Pashin’ Sparks is a project to pay for the higher education of formerly trafficked or at-risk young girls to a university degree level. Two girls were selected by Anuradha Koirala to win the scholarships offered by our little family business.
As of 2017, both girls, Ankita and Henisha have successfully completed year 11 and 12 studies (higher secondary) and are in their first year of university. The goal is to support the new generation of educated and talented young women, from within the ranks of those previously trafficked girls, so they can advance the goals of Maiti Nepal and strengthen their fight to stop child trafficking in Nepal.
University education for poor girls in Nepal is very rare, and for trafficked girls it is almost unheard of. (Maiti Nepal can support these girls through to a grade 10 secondary education in their excellent school).
So this was the way we decided to help Nepal and at the same time support social justice for the women and children most vulnerable to exploitation. Our contribution to the two scholarships for 6 years (two years of higher secondary and four year bachelors degree) is about a total of 16,000 euros.
The budget for Ankita Shah and Henisha Shahi’s completed two years of higher secondary schooling and next four years of Bachelor studies:
Who are our partners, Maiti Nepal?
Maiti Nepal was born out of a crusade to protect Nepali girls and women from crimes like domestic violence, trafficking for the flesh trade, child prostitution, child labour and various forms of abuse, exploitation and torture. In 1993, a group of socially committed professionals, including teachers, journalists and social workers formed Maiti Nepal to fight against the social evils inflicted upon the female populace.
Its focus is centred on preventing trafficking for forced prostitution, rescuing victims of the flesh trade and rehabilitating them. This social organization also actively works to provide justice for the victimized girls and women through criminal investigation and waging legal battles against the criminals. Since its inception, it has drastically highlighted trafficking issue with its strong advocacy from the local to national and international levels.
Who is Anuradha Koirala?
Anuradha Koirala, lovingly called Dijju (elder sister) was born on 14th April 1949. Mother Teresa has always been her main source of inspiration. She spent more than 20 years teaching children at various schools around Kathmandu. Even though this brought her great satisfaction she realized that she had a bigger personal calling to fulfill. Children, girls and women were being trafficked within and from Nepal for commercial sexual exploitation. Therefore, in 1993, Ms. Koirala founded Maiti Nepal with the aim of providing services for both children and women who have endured untold pain and suffering, often in silence.
After establishing Maiti Nepal, her first work was setting up a home for those who have nowhere else to turn to. Now, Maiti Nepal has three prevention homes, eleven transit homes, two hospices and a formal school. More than 1000 children are receiving direct services from Maiti Nepal every day.
Maiti Nepal today conducts a wide range of activities. Organizing awareness campaigns, community sensitization programs, rescue operations, apprehending traffickers, providing legal support to the needy, women empowerment programs, training, providing anti retro viral therapy (ART) to children and women infected by HIV .
So far, Anuradha Koirala has been awarded 38 national and international awards in recognition of her courageous acts and achievements furthering the cause of children’s and women’s rights.
Some of the national and international awards include; Prabal Gorkha Dakshin Bahu Medal- Nepal 1999, Trishaktipatta Award 2002, Best Social Worker of the Year Award- Nepal 1998, German UNIFEM Prize 2007, Queen Sofia Silver Medal Award 2007, The Peace Abbey, and Courage of Conscience 2006. Her achievements include liberating girls from brothels, providing ART before the government of Nepal could initiate this process. Due to her continuous struggle, The Government of Nepal now recognizes September 5, as Anti-trafficking Day. Ms. Koirala was also appointed as a former Assistant State Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare.
Ms. Koirala loves spending time with children; they say that they get the warmth of a mother and a father from her.
In 2010 she was declared a CNN Hero as a result of her struggle and compassion to fight the social evil of human trafficking.
To read the CNN article about Anuradha Koirala’s fight to stop child sex trafficking from Nepal: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/29/cnnheroes.koirala.nepal/
Would you like to join our project?
If you as an individual, small business or large company would like to contribute money to helping sponsor a previously trafficked girl to get a university degree, please send an email to Chris and Mateja at Pashin’. Even a small donation will help and should you wish to sponsor a girl alone or with friends, the commitment is for six years, two years of college and four years of university. The budget we have for six years was compiled by Maiti Nepal and is a full scholarship for each girl. Our donation in 2016 was for about 4,400 euros, but there were many extra costs in 2016 for university such as new uniforms, books and computers.
Just by buying clothes from us, you are contributing a percentage of the price to this project!
WHY NATURAL MATERIALS?
Pashin’ works with 100 percent natural wool, cotton, and rayon.
Our customers look for high quality natural materials for their clothes and because we work with small ateliers mostly in Nepal and Thailand, these materials are available. We don’t press a button on a machine in China and roll off thousands of nylon copies! Everything is hand-sewn or hand-knitted. The natural materials are healthier and breathe better in summer and winter. They feel nicer against the skin and are a pleasure to wear, lasting many years.
Why wool, and why Merino wool?
Wool has been the material used by humans for thousands of years because it is natural, strong, warm and breathes. Wool is sustainable, water repellent, dirt and fire resistant, and unlike fibre made from petro-chemicals, wool can self-cleanse, so just by airing our wool garments, smells evaporate.
Merino wool is a very special wool in that it insulates and adjusts to a wide range of temperatures, so it keeps you warm at minus 20 degrees and you can wear it in weather up to about 20 degrees without heat getting trapped and causing perspiration on the skin. It breathes!
We source our wool from New Zealand and have it spun, dyed and hand-knitted in Nepal by women artisans in the countryside near Kathmandu.
Mulesing of Merino sheep in New Zealand has been outlawed recently and although prices are a little higher now for New Zealand merino wool, our customers appreciate us sourcing our wool in New Zealand where this cruel practice is finished.
Mulesing is not necessary as there are alternative methods of preventing flystrike in sheep and secondly selective breeding practices in New Zealand produce sheep with lower skin wrinkling around the breach. Also temperatures are a little lower in New Zealand than Australia, so flystrike is far less common.
Our second range of plain knitted beanies called SuperSoft uses 100 percent natural wool, also sourced in New Zealand and due to customer demand we have a fleece band inside. This “fleece” is actually polyester and is good for blocking the wind and if you are very sensitive to wool.
We encourage our customers though to try merino because it naturally repels water and stays warm when you get rained on. Also it is better to have a very soft non-itchy natural wool that breathes, against your skin! And… this ‘fleece” (polyester) is very harmful to the environment. We are trying to source a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Acrylic is another highly pollutant fibre which we don’t use. Also it is not very warm.
Why 100 percent natural cotton?
Cotton breathes so it controls perspiration by wicking, it protects against heat in summer and gives thermal insulation in winter, it is hypoallergenic so does not irritate the skin which is why it is used for medical products and baby clothing.
Our goal is to fully head towards organic cotton as the price is coming down (more customer demand, more supply from farmers equals cheaper organic cotton cloth. Before, organic cotton would have nearly doubled the price of our clothes) and it is softer and healthier for you and the environment. At the moment we are working with low-pesticide cotton but our goal is to be completely organic as soon as possible.
Why Natural 100 percent Rayon?
Some of our pants and dresses are made from Rayon. This is a very special cloth made from plant cells.
Rayon, is an eco-friendly man-made fibre from the cellulose in plant cell walls (sustainable wood or bamboo pulp). Cellulose is the world’s most common organic polymer. The cellulose from pulp is converted from purified cellulose into a liquid solution and then forced through a spinneret to create solid fibres of nearly pure cellulose (this is why it is sometimes called a “semi-synthetic” fibre).
Rayon has special comfort qualities often exceeding cotton such as in moisture dissipation, softness, flowing silk-like feel and colour retention.
We make our rayon pants and dresses in Thailand because a very high quality rayon is produced there. We use the number one quality which has no polyester or petro-chemical blend, so it feels extremely soft, silky, and allows the air to flow through it. It also holds the colour well, without fading from washing or sunlight. Perfect for hot days!