Looking from my high-rise hotel window toward the Arabian Sea, I take in the vast horizon lapping toward me. I feel the peace that comes at the end of a hectic day which I have spent visiting cooperatives in Mumbai. As I drink in the serenity of the sea, I happen to look straight down toward the beach and am startled to see an entire borough of people living in corrugated metal lean-tos, row upon row, squeezed tightly between the hotel's groomed grounds and the shore.
It is dusk, and bare bulbs begin to pop on here and there as women prepare food and people gather in the narrow alleys before their evening's rest—a shocking contrast to the pressed linens on the bed where I will soon sleep. The word that comes to mind as I stand glued to the window, peering down upon this ribbon of life on the edge, the very periphery of India, is fringe.
Last summer, now years later, an email popped in from the creative director at Schumacher who I had approached about sponsoring our Ibu event the following spring. Send me a deck, she said, wanting to know more. Well, we had our co-chairs, location, program, purpose, goals, we had it all worked out—but had no name for it yet—and needed to conjure one by the next day if I were to send off a sponsorship deck.
I thought of Schumacher's gorgeous tassels and fringes, ornamenting the best cushions and curtains with elegance. I thought, somewhat instantly and instinctively, of that ribbon of poverty in Mumbai. The people of the fringe.
In almost every region of the world where we collaborate, women are living in the margins. Their powers, if any, are peripheral to the decision-making bodies shaping their lives. They shockingly own only one percent of the world's land. They possess little of the world, and yet, within their patrolled and bordered lives, there lives an immensity of promise.
There it was, in a flash. The Fringe Revolution.
The first look on our March 8 runway was a macramé wave of fringe from women in Colombia that twirled into a world of possibility. As do their lives. Women are a fringe element to some, yes; but perhaps that is just where change can happen—in the margins, where there is nothing to lose, and a new whole cloth to create. I'm standing with them, and with you, right there, edging forward.
All the best,