What does the colour blue mean to you? For Sudheer Rajbhar, founder of the Mumbai-based accessories brand Chamar Studio, it represents the oft-neglected contribution of blue-collar workers. “Whether it’s in design or art, the workers who make the products don’t earn much. Politically too, there has been little change," says Rajbhar, whose new initiative, Project Blue, is a collaborative process that recruits cobblers who work on the platform of Mumbai’s suburban railway stations to create accessories for women.
Launched on International Labour Day (1 May), the Project Blue Collar collection recreates some of the caste-inclusive brand’s five designs crafted from recycled leather in a captivating electric blue. “The idea comes from the use of blue in the Dalit movement—it is the colour popularized by Babasaheb (Ambedkar) and also represents peace in Buddhism," Rajbhar says. There are also other activisms at work—the brand’s Khisa pocket bags challenge “pocket sexism" while the Batuwa handbag is an ode to changing gender roles and the status of women in society.
To publicize the collection, Rajbhar has compiled a series of video interviews with cobblers involved in the project. “The designs are simple, so they can be made easily. They are all learning—one of them ended up making five bags in one day," says Rajbhar, who dreams that blue-collar workers in India will one day enjoy the same respect accorded to artisans working in the ateliers of luxury houses in Europe.
Project Blue items start at ₹1,800. For product catalogue and detailed prices, write to firstname.lastname@example.org