‘Tis surely the season of indulgence… But amid the extravagance and excess, there’s a feel-good way to retail: by purchasing charitably, socially, and responsibly (for the environment, that is). Here’s where to get purses out.
The amalgamation of two of Southeast Asia’s most recognised NGOs (Mekong Quilts and Mekong Creations), M+ has been upskilling and employing under-privileged women from rural Vietnam and Cambodia since 2001. Their patched, pieced, hand-stitched Indo-Chine quilts, cushions, bags and scarves, papier mache prods and bamboo bikes have a delightfully handmade and personalised feel, but best of all the proceeds from all sales benefit not just the 340 female employees, but the wider community via micro-financing, scholarships, and health, hygiene and agricultural education programs. That’s an A+ for M+!
As globalisation threatens to all but swallow up the unique and individual artisan labels of yore, companies like NYC’s Maiyet are stepping up and doing their bit to help the little people survive amid the big name brands. Maiyet has teamed up with indie NPO Nest to help train and develop artisan businesses while aiming to alleviate poverty, empower women, promote peace, and pay fair wages. And besides all that good stuff, their product offering – from earthy apparel to fine jewellery – is just divine too.
Kind of like Bali’s answer to M+, fair trade biz Threads Of Life weaves its heirloom quality, naturally-dyed, sustainably-resourced textiles and baskets to give back to the rural Indonesian islands from which their weavers hail. TOL helps build cooperatives to combat the isolation and poverty so often felt in the poorest and most remote of communities, while their textile archive, traditional ikat and batik-riffing designs and rattan basketry honour age-old techniques that were once quietly slipping from the present day consciousness.
Online homeware cache The Citizenry’s ethos is simple and effective – travel the world to find artisans crafting beautiful products using traditional techniques and fair methods; build sustainable relationships with said artisans; invest back into communities via entrepreneur development grants; supply customers with beautiful one-off wares from furniture to accent pieces to art; rinse and repeat. Easy.
Hong Kong-based e-store A Boy Named Sue uses a triple-pronged strategy to combat the nasty practises so often covertly employed in the fashion industry. Firstly, they promote eco-conscious designers with transparent product chains and low-impact environmental footprints. Next, they look to brands focusing on people-driven causes, and lastly, they align with small, local producers. The result? A chic fashion and lifestyle one-stop perfect for sourcing guilt-free gifts and holiday wardrobe injections. Click in!
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