COCO AND GINGER: Made by real people
It's true that Coco and Ginger clothes cost more than their mass-produced counterparts.
But then, Coco and Ginger clothes are made by real people, in real time.
"Our business started small," says Bali-based founder Saffron Pugh-Blaby, who started making her tropically inspired clothes for girls when friends asked what her own daughters, Coco and Ginger, were wearing.
"We approached skilled artisans to create our clothes, and as we've grown, instead of moving into factories, we've expanded our network of mostly home-based seamstresses, tailors and artisans across the island."
The story behind a Coco and Ginger piece begins with an idea, inspired perhaps by a vintage blouse her daughter Coco unearths at a local market. The design process is playful and low-tech, says Saffron, who finalises her pieces using actual mock-ups rather than a computer. "I play and pick exact hues and trimmings. It's organic, creative, dynamic."
Working in the rice paddy-set, sunshine-filled Coco and Ginger studio, Pak Wayan, the main tailor, oversees the drafting of patterns and samples. "Then Ginger will try on the samples in white and give us feedback," Saffron says. "How does it fall, swing and twirl?"
Coco and Ginger's signature fabrics -- featuring the label's iconic vivid vermillions, tangerines, lemons, jades, turquoises and indigos -- are hand-printed using old-fashioned screen printing techniques in a Denpasar workshop, while embroidered pieces are chalk screen-printed before being whisked off to Ibu Annie's home in Denpasar. A collective of women hand-stitch the items in an island-wide network of homes. "The women can manage their households while also earning money to help, for instance, keep their kids in school," Saffron says.
Meanwhile, tailors visit the studio and cut the fabrics before taking the pieces back to their own work spaces to sew to completion.
The final pieces go through quality control and the pieces are hand-washed, sun-dried and ironed; swing tags are attached and then finally packed.
Overseeing it all is Saffron's production director, Ibu Komang, who has been part of the team since Coco and Ginger debuted in 2008; Saffron's business partner, office manager and accountant Pak Putu keeps it all humming smoothly behind the scenes; and Putu and Dewi help customers make their selections in the Coco and Ginger Bali store.
It's a long process each season, but one marked each step of the way by an integrity not found so often in the fashion world, and a philosophy that sees workers and the environment respected.