By Diane Small
The Alchemist, according to myth, had mysterious powers. They could transform the ordinary into something valuable, even magical. They constantly strove to discover the means to create gold from banal materials, but this symbolised more than wealth–it represented a quest for perfection, both spiritual and material.
According to founder Caroline Mewe, Alchemist’s mission is similar to those ancient scientists: the Dutch brand aims to combine high-end design with ethics, firmly believing that “no thing or person is an isolated phenomenon. Chemistry only starts when different elements interact.”
Designed by Mewe but created by artisans in ethical ateliers around the world, Alchemist clothing is careful to ensure the well-being of each employee by seeking production partners outside Europe with Fair Wear Foundation credentials.
FWF is an independent non-profit organization. Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)’s mission is to improve labour conditions in the garment industry. FWF has invested more than 10 years in developing effective solutions to the key problems facing workers in the garment industry. Alchemist has signed the 8-point FWF Code of Labour Practices, which is based on UN and ILO principles. FWF publicly reports on our progresses towards implementation of the Code.
This membership underlines that we want to produce our garments with respect for people and nature. FWF’s four main areas of activity are:
• checking that member brands respect human rights in their supply chains.
• checking working conditions in garment factories.
• providing worker complaint hotlines in 15 production countries.
• ensuring cooperation between factories, brands and all other stakeholders.
But what’s more, Alchemist greatly reduced their CO2 emissions by relocating most of their production back to Europe. Currently about 92% of all production takes place within Europe, in order to limit transport and, as a result, CO2 emissions. The brand has received a very high grade from Rank A Brand for its sustainability.
Indeed, Mewe says she draws much of her inspiration from close to home – especially from living things. “From what I see on the streets, in restaurants, even flowers because of their colours.” This clothing Alchemist combines the influences of her surroundings with her own imagination, creating clothing that is light and almost fragile on the one hand, yet bold, effervescent and avant-garde on the other. Pure gold, in any case.
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