Although fashion has so much to do with individual expression and personality, it always amazes me how impersonal the fashion industry has become. Perhaps due to sheer size, but likely due to many other factors and cultural shifts as well, the fast fashion industry dehumanizes our clothing, allowing us to forget that there were actual hands that made the pieces hanging in our closets, not just unattended machines in a warehouse somewhere.
Dehumanizing anything, as I'm continually reminded by participating in Dressember, is a dangerous action. Nonetheless, we do it, almost everyday. From the clothes we buy, to the foods we consume, to the way we ignore the person standing next to us in line, preferring our phone over immediate interaction, dehumanization has become so ingrained in culture that we forget about it.
Sure, I love the self-expression involved in fashion. I love finding pieces that make me feel beautiful or, more often, practically fit into my everyday life. But when I ignore the countless other people involved in aiding in my self-expression, I can't feel beautiful, not truly.
And that, my friends, is one of my biggest personal draws to slow, ethical fashion. The movement takes fashion back to its roots, back to valuing human hands every step of the way. It is personal. It is humanizing. It is beautiful. Whether it's a one-woman show designing clothes to sell in between nursing sessions, a well-known brand producing larger quantities of organic clothes by workers who choose to come to work everyday, or an artisan cooperative in a remote village on the other side of the world helping communities thrive by sharing their craft with consumers on the other side of the world, slow fashion has many expressions, and all of them are needed.
One of the brands that I've come to respect for their embodiment of the term "slow fashion," Artisan & Fox, uses the latter method to change the fashion industry for the better.
Artisan & Fox was born from a desire to discover talented craftsman and women around the world. More than that, the founders wanted to learn the stories of these makers and their communities, learning how their trade impacted their livelihood in the most real and practical sense.
Not surprisingly, they learned that, just as they did for their own lives, the artisans they were connecting with had big dreams for their futures and a passion for the quality of their craft.
Connecting these artisans to the global market, as Artisan & Fox has been doing since their launch earlier this year, is a vitally important step for the preservation of the artisans' craft.
Take, for example, this incredibly intricate scarf that I feel truly honored to own.
The SOLOLA Shawls are woven on traditional jacquard looms by talented women in Guatemala, preserving traditional Mayan designs and empowering the women in their cooperative to earn a fair, safe, artistic living.
Artisan & Fox partners with artisan groups and individuals all over the world, currently in Syria, Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, and Afghanistan, in addition to Guatemala. More than simply listing their products on their website, Artisan & Fox's partners receive 50% of the funds made from the website. The remaining 50% is reinvested to keep the marketplace up and running.
When I think about my "dream closet", I think of stories. I think of real hands creating the pieces I wear from day to day. I think of dignity, empowerment, art, and choice.
The SOLOLA Shawls, as well as the other (literally stunning) pieces on the Artisan & Fox marketplace, "rehumanize" fashion instead of ignore the humanity of the industry, and that is worth supporting, even one scarf at a time.