FIT TO BE TIED
Following the path forged by the likes of TOMS and FEED Projects comes FIGS, a hand-tailored line of neckties and bow ties that funds school uniforms in Africa with every purchase. The corporate nooses come in myriad patterns and fabrics, including Italian silk wovens, pure British woolens, and fine wool tartans.
BAGS TO BACKPACKS
Based in San Francisco, Kayu aligns itself with indigenous craftsmen in China and the Philippines to create low-impact, handcrafted accessories that give back to the community. By purchasing this ethically handwoven straw clutch, Kayu will make a donation to Awareness Cambodia, a charity that provides backpacks and school supplies for children who can’t afford them.
Wildlife Works’ patch-style “Almasi” jacket works hard for both people and planet without any need for middlemen. The organic-cotton fleece number hails from the label’s own carbon-neutral “eco-factory” in Kenya, situated just next door to its 80,000-acre Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, which now employs 70 locally hired rangers, land managers, greenhouse workers, and other conservation aides.
FEEL GOOD AND CARRY ON
Wayuu Taya’s boldly patterned bags may cost more, but they’re well-worth the extra cash. The women of the Wayuu community in South America’s Guajira Peninsula use traditional tribal techniques to hand-weave and sew each one-of-a-kind piece, a process that takes 20 eight-hour days. Plus, a substantial 90 percent of proceeds goes back to the community.
SPEAK FOR THE TREES
As the United Nations’ “Year of Forests” comes to a close, designer Vivienne Westwood has produced a line of organic-cotton T-shirts that supports reforestation efforts in Europe. All proceeds go to GreenUp, an initiative of the UN Environmental Programme that seeks to reduce deforestation around the world.
ALL THAT GLITTERS
Aurea’s “Cascade” necklace isn’t literally gold, but it exudes quite the luster, nonetheless. The ersatz metal? Golden grass, which artisans in Jalapão, Brazil hand-weave using techniques passed down from the indigenous Xerente people. A stunning piece, whether dressed up or down.
IN THEIR SHOES
Sseko (pronounced “say-ko”) does more than sell sandals. It’s also a not-for-profit enterprise that helps young Ugandan women earn, learn, and grow during the nine-month gap between secondary school and university. Its “Stocking Stuffer” package includes a pair of handmade soles and three interchangeable sets of organic-cotton straps in navy, gray, and gold—perfect for the person who can never make up her mind.
SINGING IN THE RAIN
Made fairly in China from 100 percent natural latex rubber, a single pair of Roma boots won’t just keep your feet dry. Through the company’s one-for-one program, a less-fortunate child will also receive a pair to weather the damp and cold.
ALL IN THE WRIST
Mikuti, a social enterprise that means “dried leaf” in Kiswahili, paired banana bark with local Tanzania wax fabric to create a trio of bangles just begging to be stacked. More than wrist adornments, the accessories are also tools for sustainable economic success, creating jobs and income for artisans in East Africa.
FASHION THAT EMPOWERS
Reusable totes are a great go-to gift, but why settle for the same-old when you can snag a bag that goes beyond schlepping stuff? Nicole Miller partnered with nonprofit Indego Africa on a range of accessories that empowers Rwandan women through fair-trade partnerships, access to global buyers, and skills training. And who can resist that eye-popping print?
CASES FOR A CAUSE
From Della in Los Angeles comes a vibrantly hued iPad case that does more than coddle your tablet PC. The fair-trade label employs local seamstresses in Ghana, providing them with jobs, education, and skills training. “Most people do not realize that a majority of the African-style fabric sold in Ghana comes from China,” says founder Tina Tangalakis. “I wanted to find reliable sources to purchase authentic Ghanaian fabric from to keep in line with Della’s mission of helping stimulate the Ghanaian economy.”
CLEAN UP POLLUTION
The garment industry is a polluting beast, particularly in China, where rivers run blue, red, and yellow with dyes. Help the National Resources Defense Council green the global textile supply chain through its Clean by Design initiative, which works with factories to cut costs and reduce environmental degradation.