By Chere Di Boscio
Fashion designers continually draw inspiration from a diversity of sources: ethnic fabrics, artisanal sewing techniques, and of course, nature, to name a few. And sustainable luxury label Maiyet is no exception.
The brainchild of former fashion consultant Kristy Caylor and human rights lawyer Paul Van Zyl, Maiyet’s fashion forward designs reflect a love of traditional textile making, luxury fashion and global travel, since they source highly refined work from skilled craftsmen in off-the-beaten path places around the world, from Kenya and India to the mountains of Peru.
But before Maiyet begins seeking artisans to work with, their New York-based design team, composed of staff who have worked for global luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Céline and Saint Laurent, develops a clear vision based on a distinctive colour palette, shapes and fabrics. In fact, you could say that even before thinking about sustainability, this ethical fashion label is design focused. “We are obsessively focused on product and design, and on creating a product offering that is compelling and interesting and sells itself. So the brief for the design team is always ‘produce something that people would buy regardless of Maiyet’s mission,’ Van Zyl said in an interview.
Indeed, since its debut at Paris AW 2011 Fashion Week Maiyet’s collections have garnered positive reviews, though mainly due to their polished designs rather than their ethical roots. Nonetheless, the brand is relentlessly dedicated to finding ways to reduce poverty and promote stability in places around the world that needed it most by creating as many fair-paid jobs as they can.
Though they may have talent, artisans in developing countries often lack design direction, access to markets, finance and production systems that allow them to compete with other brands in the luxury realm. Maiyet is trying to help with each of the problems mentioned above, and they keep track everything – from how much money they give to communities, how many pieces were ordered, and how many people were employed. Over a five year period, they then determine the impact they’ve had in each community.
The New York based company also deploys training programs globally to promote sustainability in communities from Indonesia to Italy, and has also partnered with Nest, an independent nonprofit organisation dedicated to training and developing artisan businesses to promote entrepreneurship, prosperity and dignity in places that need it most.
The brand only launched last year, but Maiyet is certainly one design house Eluxe will be following carefully in the future.
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