In the course of your browsing, you’ve probably encountered phrases like “environmentally friendly” and “ethically made.” In fact, your decision to shop sustainably was probably motivated by one or more of these factors. But how, exactly, is your purchase contributing to environmental and economic sustainability? This series will help illustrate the impact your dollars can have when you choose to buy sustainable clothing, accessories and lifestyle products.
Shopping handmade / artisan-made:
There is an immediate visual appeal to artisan-made apparel. Its quality craftsmanship is evident at first glance. Each piece is unique – no two dresses, handbags or hand-beaded tops are alike. But apart from making a statement, your artisan-made garment makes no small impact on skilled workers across the globe, their local economies, and even the environment.
In addition to employing time-tested techniques that result in products of the highest quality, the handcrafting process is kinder to the environment than that of mainstream manufacturing. Without heavy machinery, large-scale factory emissions or massive water waste, you can rest assured that your purchase will have a smaller carbon footprint. Products created by hand require far less energy, produce less waste, and are free from chemicals often used for mass-production. By producing items in small batches, these artisan-driven enterprises can compensate workers fairly, provide safe and enjoyable working conditions, and consciously use materials that are safer for the environment.
Further, artisanal fashion and handicrafts are industries largely dominated by women. By purchasing from artisan-driven brands, you are using your wallet to support both women craftworkers and entrepreneurs. At Bastet Noir, for instance, each piece is hand-sewn by an artisan seamstress: “As women, we love craftsmanship and appreciate handmade techniques, that’s why we make sure all the fine details are hand-stitched, responsibly produced and diverse.” Artisan enterprises provide craftswomen around the world with safe and ethical work environments in which to succeed.
You can also feel good about the fact that your dollars will directly support the artisan or artisans who handcrafted your items. Unlike large fast fashion brands that pay workers small wages and retain profits, sustainability-focused boutique enterprises seek to empower skilled workers and enrich their lives. Your purchase may help an artisan provide for their family, pursue educational opportunities or grow their business. Additionally, supporting artisans helps stimulate local economies in developing countries and throughout the world.
“We believe that the well-being of our artisans is central to who we are as a company, which is why we pay each of our artisans a livable wage, allowing them to provide for their families. Through sustained work opportunities and involvement in the design process, our artisan partners can affect change not just in their own lives, but our world.” –Symbology Clothing
Finally, consider the meaning behind your artisan-crafted piece. Products created by artisans are not just practical; they tell a story and convey a piece of history. Your garment is a means by which the artisan’s culture can be preserved, shared and celebrated.
“We wish to share the beauty of our land, culture and tell amazing stories of Indonesia to the whole world.” – Ida Ayu Helga, Brunna.Co
“It is in the spirit of Bali, the Island of the Gods, that these traditional Balinese techniques are passed down through generations and are used to create these artisanal pieces for you.” –Paneros
Items handmade by artisans are crafted not only with great skill and artistry, but also with passion and pride. These talented artisans care deeply about their work, and their dedication to the craft shines through in every piece.
Ready to do your part to support skilled workers? Shop our artisan-made collections here.
Words by Casey Wolfe