No beating around the bush on this one: prices will be increasing soon. There are a few reasons for this:
- When I was in Himachal last year to purchase wool, I found that the going rates for raw fleece had increased. This is good! Not only does it increase herding incomes, but it inches toward rebalancing the percentages of their incomes that herders make from wool vs. meat. The dramatic shift towards meat in recent years has incentivized herders to keep more goats, and sometimes no sheep at all. Since sheep and goats have different eating habits (sheep graze at ground level, while goats browse shrubby growth), a shift in ratios alters the ecological impact of a herd. Himachali herding practices and landscapes evolved under cyclical grazing by multiple types of livestock. Restoring the balance of animals is one part of the work of restoring Himachali forest ecologies.
- The members of Kullvi Whims asked to be compensated at a higher rate for the work they do to produce the naturally dyed yarns featured in our knitwear. This is also good! Much of the natural dye work closely resembles tasks (foraging, cooking, washing laundry) that women routinely perform as part of the unpaid domestic work without which their households would cease to function. Supporting women when they demand higher pay for these tasks is part of the work of recognizing and valuing women’s labor as foundational to our economies.
- Due to the pandemic and, on the US side, to political interference, our usual shipping practices have been disrupted. We typically ship things via the public postal systems of India and the US. In March, India Post temporarily suspended all operations and has not yet reinstated service to the US. So we’ve had to ship the new order via a private courier service, at rates over 25% higher than what we usually pay. This…is what it is. I hope this will be a temporary change in our supply chain, not so much because of the increased cost but because I wholeheartedly support the public postal systems of both countries. Both systems provide vital services to rural communities. I think by now most readers of this blog will be familiar with the many roles of the USPS. In India, post offices also provide banking services, an important function in villages where the nearest bank branch may be several kilometers away.
So for two good reasons and one unfortunate reason, our costs are going up. One of the goals of this project is to demonstrate that our textile supply chains do not have to be as exploitative as they are. Beautiful, handmade, sustainably and ethically produced clothing should be affordable for regular folks–not just for people who can spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of linen pants! So I’ve been working very hard to make sure that our new pricing is fair to both our producers and our customers. Older stock is currently (as of October 2020) still available at the original prices. In November, I will begin entering the new season’s pieces and increasing prices at that time.