Buying the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one can be tricky, but most people are delighted by a beautiful gift made with love. Here are three of our favourite brands that use artisan skills and traditional practices that also support their workers to create beautiful pieces we'd be delighted to receive.
The Clapton-based brand is only a short stroll from our Broadway Market store. Kate Sheridan creates beautifully crafted leather goods all designed and manufactured using traditional print and craft skills in their East London studio. All the materials used in the production of their accessories are sourced in the UK or Europe.
Pink City Prints
Each Pink City Prints garment is individually hand crafted, from intricate block prints to beautiful embroidery. All of the brand's production is in India, mostly centred in and around Jaipur, and it's overseen by founder and head designer Molly who lives in India for 6 months each year.
Block-printing is an ancient traditional craft unique to the Chhipa caste in Jaipur and surrounding areas. A design is drawn directly onto a slab of wood and the pattern etched out using a metal cutter. Some of these motifs are amazingly intricate, requiring a very high level of skill. Lengths of fabric are rolled out and pinned on long trestle tables, ready for printing. The wood block is dipped into the colour tray, carefully applied to the fabric and then repeated. Each stroke requires extreme precision and requires a steady, practiced eye to achieve uniformity. The colours are applied one at a time.
Many Pink City Prints dresses feature intricate stitching which is also undertaken in Jaipur, India. The process requires so much skill that the employees of the small family-run factory are famous in the local area. The factory is one of the best employers in the area, offering flexible working hours, time off for public and private events and festivals, and optional overtime paid at more than the hourly rate.
All the embroidered pieces are sewn by hand, an intricate, difficult and lengthy process. The skilled embroiderers have an eye for precision and need to remain focused throughout. A dress can take three days to finish. These rare skills are handed down through generations and represent centuries of history and artistry.
Pink City’s hand-loom fabric is made in villages outside Kolkata. Initially, the cotton is hand-spun and then delivered to the weavers' houses where they keep their wooden looms. Each person will weave around 3 to 4 metres a day.
If you are interested in ethical fashion, there is a strong chance you will already know the brand People Tree. Established in the early 90s, the brand was one of the earliest fashion companies to ethically source fabrics and use factories that guaranteed no exploitation of their employees.
Since People Tree began, they have used a social enterprise based in Mombasa, Kenya to make their jewellery. Bombolulu was established in 1969 by the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya. They teach artisanal jewellery making skills to people with learning disabilities, as well as providing safe and secure jobs, with a union to ensure the employees rights. Every part of the jewellery is handmade, including the links on every piece.
Bombolulu also works in the community to champion the rights for physically challenged people to fully participate in society.