Marketing Berbers Abroad – Avenue for Cultural Preservation?
While globalization can have an antithetical role to the preservation of indigenous cultures, a Berlin fashion label has recently played a pivotal role in protecting a native Berber sewing technique. Andrea Kolb, founder of the fashion label Abury, says she conceived of the idea a few years ago, after friends commented enthusiastically on a Berber-made embroidered leather bag purchased on a visit to Morocco. Abury brought together underpaid Berber artisans and a global fashion market yearning for Berber products. Kolb’s project posed challenges, though: She struggled to locate craftspeople with skills for making the bags and then launched training programs while offering remuneration of about $1000 per month. A Berber artisan produced the basic pattern and a French design firm developed forms for modern bags, cellphone cases and more. Profits are directed towards community investment. Cost-efficiency of such projects remains a challenge, yet Kolb hopes that in the long run, global markets can create structures that appreciate, preserve and sell products of local design and traditions. – YaleGlobal