04 Oct 2019
Rabat, Morocco
Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

Foundouk Chejra, a time-honored hotel in the legendary city of Tangier, lends many years of experience to Moroccan fingerprint – an innovative business that draws together sustainable fashion products from around the country. The foundouk (“hotel” in Arabic) hosts a group of local artisans, including the inimitable Mohamed – an old craftsman who makes traditional handicrafts from hemp and jute. These fibers allow for sustainable farming because they consume less water than popular clothing materials like cotton. 

Founder Sofia Achargui, who is based in Rabat, also works with raffia shoe and bag manufacturers from her own city and Essaouira. She holds a special reverence for Foundouk Chejra, an ideal partner for Moroccan fingerprint’s environmental and artistic mission. Achargui wants her business to champion the artisans’ traditional know-how and even encourage restoration of the crumbling hotel itself. “We should improve working conditions for the craftsmen and valorize this historical monument,” said Achargui.

Achargui began developing the Moroccan fingerprint concept in 2018, during her second year of maternity leave. (“Unpaid!” she added playfully.) She wanted to establish her own business, but not just any kind of enterprise – it had to be meaningful. “I decided to specialize in original, eco-friendly and useful Moroccan products,” Achargui said.

Moroccan fingerprint focuses on hemp-related products as a practical response to the urgent need to conserve Moroccan water reserves. This year, the World Resources Institute ranked Morocco as suffering from the world’s 22nd highest rate of water stress.

According to Achargui, expanding hemp, jute and raffia production will provide a sustainable future for Moroccan agriculture because these crops use relatively little water. Sourcing hemp-related materials would also reduce fabric imports from overseas, thus reducing the environmental impact of international freight. “We will gain a lot from growing these plants and supplying ourselves locally as a result,” she predicted.

Moroccan fingerprint also aims to safeguard the country’s artisan heritage. At present, hemp and jute production revolves around Mohamed, whom Achargui reveres as a mualim (“master” in Arabic) of his niche trade. If Moroccan fingerprint succeeds, she hopes that other artisans will learn Mohamed’s unique skills and preserve them for future generations.

Charmingly, Achargui harbors dreams for the mualim himself. Already, Moroccan fingerprint has inspired hope in Mohamed that he will – at last – receive recognition for his lifelong craft. “At his age, that is all he wants,” Achargui remarked. Moroccan fingerprint is still yet to make its first sale, and Achargui is looking for ways to reach an international market. But one determined mother is ready to help change Morocco’s future – intriguingly, by returning to its past.

Learn more about Moroccan fingerprint by checking out the brochure here.

Photos courtesy of Moroccan fingerprint and Francesc Morera

Since completing his MA in Middle Eastern Studies two years ago, David has worked as a freelance writer based in Cairo and Beirut.David Wood
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Moroccan fingerprint Sustainable Textiles & Clothing