The Tibetan community has lived in India for decades and Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh, North india) is the seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Yet, the community continues to remain in the sidelines, rarely emerging in mainstream media apart from stories of protests and activism.
That’s what makes Tenor Sharlho so interesting—fashion designer, entrepreneur, crafts connoisseur, whose fledgling initiative in India is slowly but steadily grabbing attention.
Tenor is the founder of Sharlho, a sustainable label that interprets traditional Himalayan craftsmanship in contemporary designs and provides jobs to local artisans. Tenor was always attracted by ethnic patterns and raw materials originating from Tibet and the Himalayas.
True to his affinity for the mountains, Tenor set up Sharlho at Ramnagar, a village close to Dharamsala. Tenor’s initiative brings a new vitality to the area. The Sharlho team comprises a mix of full-timers and freelancers, and many employees have moved from bigger cities to settle here.
The Sharlho boutique is located in Mcleodganj, which has emerged as an immensely popular tourist destination in recent years. Tenor admits the location limits his access to a wide customer base, but his activities are strongly geared towards community development.
Sustainability is a priority for Tenor, who promotes zero-wastage by using leftover materials to make small accessories and stuffing for cushions.
In recent years, the fashion industry has begun acknowledging the need for sustainable practices and slow fashion. Sharlho embraces these values as its core principles.
Slow fashion focuses on creating timeless pieces allowing more focus on quality and ethics. It can bring about change by contributing to the local community, providing jobs and preserving ancient techniques.
Running an independent, crafts-oriented label comes with its own challenges. The young generation do not want to pursue the traditional crafts, due to this, it gets increasingly difficult and expensive to source authentic craftsmanship.
Despite the challenges, Tenor continues working with local, indigenous people, sourcing unique materials and crafts, and expanding on that.
Sharlho is slowly making its way out of Mcleodganj market, and into the hearts and wardrobes around the country. For Tenor, his label is a homage to his multi-faceted identity. Tenor likes to think that his use of local materials with Tibetan patterns is a reflection of Tibetans living in India.