Salford brand, KALA, strives to combine the love of fashion with the need to promote equality and diversity; whilst also ensuring the clothes are ethically sourced.
Jessie Stringer-Fewtrill, 27, is hoping to make a difference through her creations which were originally inspired by Indian and African culture and textiles, but now focus more on the idea of identity and belonging.
She said: “Kala actually means art in Hindi.
“I was just fascinated by the [Indian] culture and how different it is to ours.
“It’s been a journey from the start, and it’s been an understanding of both my identity and the people who link to the cultures that I’ve tried to work with.
“So, when I went to India, it was just a genuine fascination of all the beautiful colours and the different textiles, and all the symbology of everything that it holds.”
Taking inspiration from her surroundings in both Salford and Manchester, Stringer-Fewtrill believes that those who live in this diverse community are able to enforce this change.
She said: “I love being in Manchester and Salford because of how diverse [the two are].
“There’s so many complexities, but I think just doing the bit you can with the voice that you have might have a knock-on effect for other people and then you may be able to make a small change.”
The Salfordians working alongside Stringer-Fewtrill also inspire her work, as she is a part of the Islington Mill community and the collective of freelancers known as Salford Makers.
She said: “I’m always inspired by the creative people that are around me, to be honest.
“I’ve got a studio in Islington Mill, where the team are really helpful and supportive, and I also work with Salford Makers.
“I always find them really inspiring and I think Manchester has got such a good, creative network that I’m just inspired by everyone that I’m around.
“I’m really grateful that I’m a part of [Salford Makers] and they’re all so talented in their own different ways.
“We all influence each other and support each other and it’s a great network to be a part of.”
Through her choice to merge fashion with a socially conscious message, Stringer-Fewtrill says that she feels it is good to promote a different kind of emotive message.
She argues that sometimes when you receive a physical garment that holds such messages, this allows you to wear something that clearly shows what you want to represent, and this therefore empowers the wearer.
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She said: “It’s more of a visual way of getting the message across and it’s a way for a group of people to unite and fuse.”
The latest KALA collection, ‘Identity’ is all about, as the name suggests, identity and how you identify yourself, due to the creator’s social conscious and desire for change.
However, as a result of her motivation to enforce this, Stringer-Fewtrill has chosen to possibly move away from the making of her own personal collections for the time being and focus on empowering communities through fashion instead.
She said: “I’m thinking I might maybe look at some funding to promote the messages I want to promote, such as diversity and people working together.
“Maybe [I’ll] go into different community centres and empower communities working with fashion and textiles.
“I might even step away from making my own collections and do more community-based projects but that’s where I’m at right now.”
Even though the fight for equality continues, the work of independent artists, such as Stringer-Fewtrill, is a step in the right direction and highlights how art and politics can come together for the better.