Zazi Vintage: When A Village Project Becomes A Global Ambition
Storytelling is the most powerful weapon in the fashion industry and Jeanne Zizi Margot de Kroon’s “Zazi Vintage” is a tale of female empowerment, sustainability, wanderlust and weltschmerz that is hard to match. Through the help of social media, Jeanne sources vintage fabrics from some of the most remote and inaccessible areas in Asia and brings together western design and traditional wear. The results are embroidered dresses adorned with chiming bells, silk Ikat dresses in lavish colours, and reworked Suzani coats made from sheepskin rugs. Her designs are brought to life in cooperation with the Indian NGO Institute for Philanthropy and Humanitarian Development in the rural village of Bhikamkor.
After a short stint at being a street-musician in Paris where she was scouted, Jeanne spontaneously moved to New York to pursue modelling but she quickly became disillusioned with the fashion industry. She decided to pack her bags and moved to Berlin to study political sciences and philosophy. Jeanne began to travel extensively, from Ethiopia to South America and Nepal — it was this discovery of new cultures, societal structures and customs that an inner spark was lit. When she discovered the horrors of conventional fashion production in India, Jeanne decided to take things into her own hands. She began to collect one-of-a-kind vintage treasures that she sold on, and donated parts of the revenue to NGOs in India. As the stepping-stones for Zazi were being laid, Jeanne met Madhu Vaishnav, founder of IPHD India, the NGO that supports the entire village of Bhikamkor where Zazi’s pieces are now sewn.
Here, making ends meet is an ongoing struggle and the village inhabitants are stricken with severe anemia and limited access to a diverse range of food. The steady income through the cooperation with “Zazi Vintage” has changed the lives of the women involved and improved their quality of life, their access to education and their social support.
“Zazi Vintage” has already written five successful chapters of its ongoing novel, which tell embroidered tales of Pakistan’s Baluchi tribe, Mongolian sheep rugs sourced in Tajikistan, Afghanistan’s ceremonial Kuchi dresses, as well as of traveling along the silk road to Uzbekistan where we come upon vintage Ikat fabric, carefully crafted into dresses by Saheli women. Jeanne has numerous inspiring chapters in the planning, ranging from one of recycled silk Saris made of khadi silk, to a new female health clinic, a unique Zazi sustainability program and soon venturing into a cooperation with the Jaipur royal family and their Princess Foundation.
With her brand “Zazi Vintage”, Jeanne’s aim is to transplant ideals. Utilizing the power of social media as a catalyst for social change she wants to make sustainable development approachable and attractive by injecting beauty and identity. Fashion is a cultural changer and it is time to revive that ideal and remind ourselves that mindfully crafted clothing is a global movement worth supporting.
From Afghanistan to Tajikistan, “Zazi Vintage” has managed to unite generation EasyJet, a love for traditional handicrafts, and social responsibility to create a brand that has captured the industry zeitgeist while achieving an unparalleled uniqueness. Through each item of clothing, Jeanne has created an invisible bond between the Indian seamstress and the woman wearing her colorful designs.