Tag Archives: handmade

Threads of Life

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One of the great arts of Indonesia is traditional weaving, which has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Each tribe or region in this cluster of islands has their own style and patterns with specific meanings, as well as unique techniques for making their dyes.

Threads of Life is a Bali-based initiative that is centered around fair trade and conservation of this cultural history, especially in rural Indonesia. They help these communities, some of which takes two days journey to reach, sell these naturally dyed and locally made artifacts. Many designers have visited the store in Ubud for inspiration including one of my personal heroes, Donna Karan. Everything from growing the cotton to tending the plants used to make the dyes is done by these craftsmen and it takes months or even up to a year to finish one piece. We met the co-founder Jean Howe, an ex-San Francisco native who has lived in Bali for a couple decades, whose passion for preserving this craft was infectious. She took us to visit Threads of Life in Seraya where we could see in person the traditional textile weaving taking place from start to finish~

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Above- picking a piece of mature cotton right off the plant and showing how the threading process begins.

Below- using traditional tools to spin and make the tread.

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FEED Heritage Bags

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Another New York Fashion Week is beginning today, which means a full week of beauty, glamour and all sorts of gowns…but I thought it would be nice to kick off the coverage by focusing on a brand that really thinks about the world around us and changes it for the better one mouth at a time.

FEED, founded by the wonderful Lauren Bush Lauren in 2007, has so far been able to provide over 75 million school meals globally through sales of a collection of totes, handbags, wallets, jewelry, t-shirts, scarfs and more. This season, FEED is introducing a new luxury collection of leather bags (I personally LOVE) handmade by master artisans in Kenya. Each item you purchase, whether it is one of the leather totes (available this fall) or a burlap all function bag, has a number on the back which tells you how many meals for the year you have provided with your purchase. I was intrigued by this design decision, because it’s so rare that you get to know and fully understand the personal impact of something you buy. When I complimented Lauren on it, she said she wanted to make sure FEED was tangible and meaningful in a way you can relate to personally and not simply a “percentage of proceeds” product.

The amazing thing about the production of the FEED products is not only the good that is brought about from the sales but also that it provides sustainable employment to the local craftsmen in Kenya or Guatemala who can then send their kids to school where they can have nutritious meals sourced from local farmers. Lauren’s passion toward the work she does with FEED comes through so clearly, whether she’s talking about how the beading on one Kenya Messenger Bag took two and a half days, or through watching the 8mm films of school children in Africa she shot on her most recent trip.

So here is to remembering this Fashion Week that there is nothing more fashionable than doing good.

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Scuola del Cuoio

Hidden in a courtyard behind Santa Croce…

 The Scuola del Cuoio features a long hallway where skilled artistans stand at their stations, making the finest of leather bags, clothing, and home décor items. Often you will see an apprentice seated with a master craftsman, learning by their side.

It is absolutely incredible to walk through and see the attention paid to each piece, meticulously hand-crafted in traditional fashions. It’s no wonder they have become world-renowned for their devotion to quality work.

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