FASHION REVOLUTION WEEK: DAY 4

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Muzungu Sisters dress and bracelets, Veja trainers, Maiyet sunglasses, Vintage bag and earrings

Welcome to day 4 of my Fashion Revolution Week challenge!

As someone who studied art and design, one of the things that tickles me pink about supporting sustainable fashion over fast fashion is that it indirectly helps to keep ancient craftsmanship skills alive. There are so many incredible traditional techniques used around the world for clothing, jewellery and accessories that are highly skilled, and can only be learnt by passing down through generations, learnt at the knee, so to speak. It would be a shame to lose this rich heritage from different countries and it's also wonderful to be able to give skilled women and men the opportunity to work in a specialised sector.

"The dress I'm wearing today is a prime example of an artisanal piece made with love, care and attention to detail.

During my travels, I keep my eyes peeled for artisanal goods — they are usually waaayyy more expensive (but not always if you buy straight from the maker) than imitation and mass-produced items, but these make special and unique gifts that stand the test of time. They usually also come with a story (true or not!) which adds even more value when you gift that item and pass the object AND the story onto your friend, or even if you keep it for yourself. Purchasing in this way is a luxury, but it definitely makes you think twice before filling your bag with what ends up being tat before long. It's also a wonderful way to support the local economy, as well as take something home that you know you won't find elsewhere.

The dress I'm wearing today is a prime example of an artisanal piece made with love, care and attention to detail. Handcrafted by artisans in India, it is cut from lightweight silk and detailed with white traditional Lucknowi floral embroidery. This traditional embroidery style is one of Lucknow’s most ancient and well-known art forms, believed to be introduced by the Mughals. The precise handwork on the garment is a simple design, but the process does take some time. Firstly, the design is engraved onto wooden block stamps. These stamps are then used to block-print the design onto cloth. The cloth is then cut accordingly, before a seamstress hand-embroiders the design onto the piece. Each and every stitch is done to perfection, and neatness is of the upmost importance.

"It's so important that we continue to invest in pieces made by woman and men who are still experts in their craft."

Skills like this are something we've lost in the West. Not long ago, people saved up for their fabrics and sewed their own designs from patterns at home as well as knitting, crocheting, embroidery and weaving. These practices have been lost for some time, however, thanks to brands like Wool and the Gang, they are starting to become fashionable again. We are in danger of losing the equivalent creative techniques in India, Africa and South America as people in these countries opt for careers that are more profitable in the current climate and leave their creative processes behind them.

It's so important that we continue to invest in pieces made by woman and men who are still experts in their craft and support them in purchasing items, so they in turn will teach the younger generation their techniques and these skills won't die out.

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MUZUNGU SISTERS

The concept for Muzungu Sisters was born in 2009, when founders and friends Dana Alikhani and Tatiana Santo Domingo were living in New York. Dana, finishing a master's degree in human rights at Columbia University, wanted to create an online retail portal that would promote fair labour practices by showcasing artisan-crafted goods. Muzungu Sisters currently offers ethically sourced handmade luxury, produced by 16 different artisan communities across four continents. Muzungu Sisters has curated travelling pop-up shops around the world in over eight countries, showcasing their wares.

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VEJA

In 2004, childhood friends Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion founded Veja, a line of socially conscious sneakers inspired by vintage volleyball shoes. The French house works with Brazilian farmers to produce its minimal, subtly branded low-tops using organic cotton, wild rubber, and other sustainable materials. Known for its commitment to ethical business practices, the cult-worthy label forgoes traditional advertising and credits its success to word-of-mouth marketing.

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MAIYET

Maiyet is a modern, ethical and luxury fashion brand that partners with global artisans to incorporate exquisitely handcrafted details and unexpected fabric techniques into its collections - all sourced globally and made locally. Headquartered in the heart of downtown New York, Maiyet partners with artisans in places such as India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru, Bolivia, and Thailand. They rely heavily on the support of NEST, an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to training and developing artisan businesses. 

Jasmine Hemsley