The Wilson College of Textiles at NC State has received support for a unique program that provides students in Raleigh with service learning opportunities and women in India with a chance at economic independence. Nextt, one of North America’s largest home bedding companies, has gifted the North Carolina Textile Foundation with support for the College’s collaboration with the Association for India’s Development (AID), an international non‐profit.
The Wilson College of Textiles has been collaborating with AID for two years to support Hunar, a grassroots women’s collective in Jaipur, India. The project’s goal at the outset was for students and faculty in the College to work with underprivileged women of Hunar in tailoring simple student-designed garments to be sold in the United States as well as in Indian urban markets. A demonstration project to pilot this new line of all‐cotton clothing was branded as Hunar Revolution and debuted at a Wilson College of Textiles fashion show one year ago.
“The success of the demonstration project and the extraordinary synergy resulting from our collaborative efforts to date has driven development of this two‐year long project to train and support the women of Hunar toward financial self‐reliance,” said Dr. Nancy L. Cassill, professor and interim department head for the Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM) department. “It truly defines service learning with its opportunities for students to develop and refine their skills while providing positive and life-changing real-world impact.”
With financial support from Nextt, a diversified manufacturer of world-class home textiles, garments, apparel fabrics and polyester yarns, the focus of the project has broadened. Hunar is now focusing on home goods like pillows and quilts in addition to apparel. The addition provides more market reach and aims to foster the growth of the program and the success of the women involved.
“Providing support and sponsoring projects that provide women empowerment has a been a key initiative for our company from the beginning. Being able to also assist in the skills and development of the students at NC State is very exciting for us,” said Charmaine Ratcliff, executive manager at Nextt. “We have continuously been involved in the training of local tribal women in India, so we are very familiar with the opportunity and can assist greatly in moving the initiative forward. Our state-of-the-art design studio and design team in New York City are very hands on and will be key drivers in facilitating the project as we move along. We are very honored to be able to partner with the premier university of our industry.”
Together, Nextt and Wilson College of Textiles students are working with the women of Hunar to design products using local textile traditions and Indian resources while introducing modern, sustainable and appropriate concepts of textile design and manufacturing. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students guided by both fashion design and textile technology faculty are developing initial product designs with input from Nextt, Hunar and AID. For inspiration, students were provided fabrics and products currently used and produced by the Hunar women. While much of the collaboration will occur over Skype, NC State students and faculty also traveled to India in early March to get a first‐hand look at the impact of their work.
To see more photos of the Hunar Project, follow the Wilson College of Textiles on Instagram.
“This service learning project perfectly illustrates the College’s mission to provide our students with enriching and impactful global experiences in addition to world class on-campus instruction. In this way we set our students up for success as the future leaders of the global textile enterprise who make a difference in society locally and globally. We are grateful for Nextt’s tremendous support of this impactful initiative and our students,” said Dr. David Hinks, dean of the Wilson College of Textiles.
Nextt, powered by Alok Manufacturing, is a fully integrated textile company and one of India’s largest textile manufacturers. Nextt has focused on world-class infrastructure, best-in-class technology, uncompromising quality standards and dynamic product innovation. Added to these has been the constant desire to surpass customer expectations. Nextt is the front end marketing arm for Alok and encompasses Next Creations Holdings, LLC. and Raymond Waites Design. Nextt’s brand portfolio features Charisma, Raymond Waites and Royal Sateen as its anchors. In addition, Nextt has volume-driving brands such as Beautyrest, Caribbean Joe, Ellen Tracy and Jessica McClintock. The company was recently awarded a patent for their Alpha Cotton® textile technology that has permanently altered the textile industry. This new technology has the possibility of setting new regulations and standards for the industry’s quality assurance.