Keep it fair with these vegan and socially responsible pieces perfect for myriad summer outings.
Summer is finally in full swing and the heat is ON. If you live in the Northeast then you’ve either been loving or hating the heat wave we’ve been having for the last couple of weeks. The humidity I could do without, but I honestly don’t mind especially after the most brutal winter in recent memory!
I was elated in early summer when I was able to shed my heavy sweaters and muted winter tones in exchange for something more vibrant, lively, and colorful; something that heralds the arrival of warm weather, trips to the beach, and sultry nights spent sipping cocktails. It’s midsummer now, and although shops are already starting to bring in their fall merchandise don’t be fooled into thinking that there isn’t lots of time left to wear fun summer styles while riding bikes, hitting up your locals farmers markets, enjoying a picnic or carefree weekend escapes!
When focusing on summer styles my mind immediately wanders to traditional prints and textiles meticulously crafted by skilled artisans in places like Southeast Asia, India, Africa and Central America. Although separated by great distances geographically, a common thread among these artisans are the festive colors and patterns they use, in addition to their precision and delicate attention to detail. Many of these craftsmen have passed down their skills from generation-to-generation-to-generation, so the craft is not only beautiful, but an important part of their cultural heritage. Sadly, many indigenous people who possess these skills are abandoning them to work elsewhere in order to support their families: seeking out work in cities where they might take advantage of booming construction or tourism industries. This, of course, is at the detriment of a valuable piece of traditional and artistic history.
Fortunately, there are brands and organizations who have partnered with these people the world over to ensure both the preservation of their craft, in addition to guaranteeing fair wages and working conditions, as well as the opportunity to reach more customers then they ever could before.
Whether woven, beaded, spun, or hand sewn you’ll surely appreciate the way in which a distinctive scarf, pair of sandals, or handbag, or any other piece from a skilled artisan can enhance an outfit – particularly in the summer. Sure, it might be easier, more convenient, or less expensive to find knock-offs or imitations at one of the many fast-fashion shops in your area; however, investing in the real-deal means you’ll enjoy the piece for many years. But, better still, sourcing these special items from ethical enterprises who partner with skilled craftspeople means that you’ll be contributing to conserving skills vital to their heritage, in addition to supporting socially responsible labor practices. We’ve done the dirty work and have found some of our favorites that will surely liven up your summer wardrobe.
One such brand, Love Is Mighty, showcases and helps to preserve the ancient tribal craftsmanship of artisans in rural villages of India. From the Love Is Might website:
“As construction dominates India’s big cities, more and more tribal artisans in rural villages are giving up their centuries-old craft to learn to hang drywall and mix cement. Talented hands are having to abandon what they know and love.
Thousands of years of Indian traditions are about to vanish.”
Their Shahana Royal sandal, made in partnership with the Marwada tribe of North India, take 8 hours to make and 2 days to assembly by hand. They are elegant, yet casual, and could take any summery dress from day to night. They’re my top-pick for summer sandals!
My two other summer picks from Love Is Mighty include this great striped tote: perfect for the beach, casual weekend outings, or a trip to the farmers market, it’s also made in collaboration with the Marwada tribe and is constructed from recycled plastic bags.
Finally, Love Is Mighty has an assortment of vintage clutches in exquisitely ornate Rabari and Jat tribal embroideries, all of which are one-of-a-kind. These also work well for day, but would add appealing pops of color and texture to a party outfit or little black dress.
If you’re one of the many gals, myself included, who experiences frizzy and unruly hair once the summer humidity sets in, then you know how essential it is to have something on hand to help keep things tame, but in a stylish way. I am really loving this oversized Cult Gaia turban made in partnership with Indego Africa: available in two colors it’s a sure way to look chic from beach to bar all while keeping things under control.
Another organization established to provide artisans with the support and access vital to achieving economic success, Indego Africa aids women in Rwanda with the education, tools, and provisions necessary to become economically independent. They work with a variety of artisan cooperatives, many of which are comprised of the few remaining people who still know the ancient arts of their ancestral trades.
If you’re anything like me, comfort is key when getting dressed in the morning.. .Particularly when the heat is humid and oppressive. BUT, a girl still wants to look polished and put together, and a pretty sundress or midi skirt will help keep you cool AND earn you some style points. This Print Paper Bag Midi Skirt offers easy,breezy comfort with it’s paper bag waist and belted tie, but looks polished for an afternoon trip to the cafe or paired with some great heels for a date night out. I also can never resist a nice batik print!
Speaking of easy-breezy, how about the Jane Dress from Fair Cloth & Supply? Fair Cloth Supply is a charitable clothing line inspired by the ease and versatility of their textile of choice – linen. In partnership with the General Welfare Pratisthan headquartered in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, Fair Cloth Supply founder Phoebe Dahl and her team are able to donate one school uniform to a Nepalese girl in need per item sold. The uniform enables these girls to go to school and receive an education they might not otherwise receive.
She’s your perfect summer picnic dress…. But, pair here with these Heera heels by Love Is Mighty, made from recycled plastic wrappers, and she’s ready for one of casual summer weddings.
Last but not least, we cannot forget the accessories that may accompany us on our various summer jaunts. In addition to scarves, I have a bit of a “thing” for blankest, tapestries, and throws. Any of these vintage Kantha Quilts from Fair Cloth & Supply would be perfect for a picnic, beach blanket, throw, and will surely take you into the cooler months as well.
My Favorite: The Sriracha Blossom quilt for its vibrant colors and patterns.
Hopefully some of these pieces could provide what you need for a midsummer wardrobe refresher!