Spain's street sellers taking on the fashion world

An array of designers have contributed to a Top Manta range that will be raffled off to raise funds for the association [Lluis Tudela/Al Jazeera]

Leading artists have teamed up with a group helping migrants in Spain to work legally.

Barcelona, Spain - They are used to selling their work to major fashion brands, or seeing it appear in the pages of publications such as The New Yorker magazine.

Now a group of 20 leading Spanish graphic artists are offering their art to help mostly African migrants who get by selling fake designer football shirts, handbags or sunglasses to well-heeled tourists.

The association, which is run by former "manteros", as they are known in Spanish, seeks to help migrants leave this hand-to-mouth life and find steadier jobs.

Among the designs, one jacket shows a black panther, along with the slogan Black Mantas; it is clearly a play on words linked to the black power organisation.

Another jacket shows migrants emerging from the sea. To some it might seem nothing more than a colourful design, but for many street sellers, it is a very real reminder of how they made it to Europe in the first place.

The designs feature images that resonate with the stories of those who sell them [Flavita Banana/Al Jazeera]

In 2007, he sailed in a flimsy boat from Mauritania in western Africa to Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

After eventually reaching Barcelona, he was then deported because he was illegally in Spain.

Seven years later, and after two more attempts, he finally won permission to stay.

"As I was a fisherman, I was used to the sea and how it can be. Luckily for me each time I made the crossing, the sea was calm. I wasn't frightened," he told Al Jazeera.

In 2015, he started selling scarves on the street, but wanted to find a way to escape this life.

"People in the street are treated worse than animals. We face such violence from people," said Faye, a married father of twin boys.

"They find us guilty for selling the goods which they say are illegal. But it is not us who brings in these things. It is easy to blame the poorest people in society."

Faye helped set up the Top Manta association to help street sellers to get the legal right to work.

(For more details, please read the original article here)




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