The fashion collections of Glimpse Clothing are currently being produced by 15 women. They are located in Mumbai (India), and unfortunately all of them have something in common: a past of forced prostitution. This young German brand, founded in 2012, works in cooperation with a local NGO to offer these girls the possibility of earning a fair salary while learning a profession. Their goal? Make sure they don’t need to go back to selling their bodies.
“When I finished my studies I took a year off because I wanted to find out what to do with my passion for fashion,” explains Teresa Göppel, fashion designer and one of the founders of Glimpse Clothing, to answer to my previous question about the brands origins. “It simply didn’t make sense for me to work for the conventional fashion business because of its lack of social values. I thought that at the end of my life I might look back and ask myself what I had done with the power of my hands. If I had only pleased the richness and the beauty of this world I don’t think I would have accomplished much.”
Teresa was travelling in Australia when she got acquainted with a couple who had a project in Thailand to reintegrate prostitutes to society by teaching them a profession. They shared their views and experiences and she started a temporary cooperation with them which inspired her to follow a similar path.
Once back home in Stuttgart she got to know to Lilly (a lawyer) and her husband Simon (a web designer) through the same couple she had met in Australia. From the begining both of them showed a great interest in the approach of using fashion as a tool to help provide a new life to the victims of prostitution. So it wasn’t long until they became parterns and started figuring out the logistics and filling in the complex paperwork they needed to a get a project of these characteristics up and running.
“We started to think about those places with a rather bigger set of problematics when we found International Justice Mission, an American Human Rights organisation that is present all around the world,” explains Teresa. “In Mumbai they fight actively against forced prostitution. They have big teams that – together with the local police forces and other humanitarian organisations – go undercover into the brothels to rescue the underaged women being captive and sexually abused.”
“These girls are cared for until they are eighteen, but after that they have to leave and they don’t have anywhere to go. Sometimes they were sold by their own families so they can’t go back to their home, thus they fall back into prostitution. That’s why we thought we wanted to work with these women, because it was the missing point at the end of the chain.”
In Mumbai Glimpse Clothing works in collaboration with the Chaiim Foundation, a local NGO responsible for the production unit – this is, they are the ones reaching out to the girls to offer them to join the paid training program taught by specialized personnel. Thanks to the donations they recieve from Germany the foundation is able to cover all the expenses (rent, fair salaries, education in math and english, machinery…etc.)
“It’s very challenging to work with these girls because they are highly traumaticed, which means that we need to put a lot of effort on their emotional education,” comments Teresa towards the end of our conversation. “But that has always been part of our goal. We do this to keep them safe and bring them hope for a new life…so no doubt all the hard work is more than worth it!”
TEXT: EVA BLANCO
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