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Calgary fashion designer makes it her goal to be socially conscious

Malika Rajani imports a handmade basket weave fabric from a small Chinese village.

The Madison basket weave moto jacket is just one piece in Rajani’s collection that uses the handwoven lambskin she sources from China.

Courtesy / Malika Rajani

The Madison basket weave moto jacket is just one piece in Rajani’s collection that uses the handwoven lambskin she sources from China.

For local fashion designer Malika Rajani, the creation process is less about the design, and more about the fabric.

And it’s really cool fabric.

Rajani works with an Non-Government Organization (NGO) based out of China, which has put her in touch with a small village that specializes in basket weaves. The interlaced threads are all braided by hand, giving a unique texture to the fabric that's incorporated into the designs.

“It’s done by a group of senior citizens and it’s an art that's dying in that small village,” Rajani explained. “This keeps it going for them. I make sure they get fair wages and in turn I’m getting something that’s different and hand-woven. There’s a lot of work that goes into making this fabric, and the design complements it.”

It takes a full day to weave one skin, so Rajani puts in effort to use high-quality materials, and make sure the organizations she works with abide by fair trade and labour practices. It’s her goal to make all her work socially conscious.

Upon receiving the material, again Rajani looks to unusual sources for design inspiration.

Specifically: architecture.

She spends her days looking at the lines and shapes in buildings, and sketching her surroundings. Those ideas then are incorporated into her jacket designs.

Before entering the world of high fashion, Rajani earned her MBA and worked as a financial controller at her brother's car dealership. She doesn’t hesitate to say her heart wasn’t in it — fashion was always on her mind.

So she quit, travelled to New York and enrolled at the Parsons School of Design.

In 2013, she started designing silk dresses. Around 2014 she really wanted a leather jacket, but couldn’t find one that suited her tastes. She designed her own, and her career snowballed from there.

You can browse her collection at malika-rajani.myshopify.com.

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