Over the last year we have seen an explosion of new fashion brands trying to integrate fashion with a social or environmental purpose. The scale of these programs can often be limiting and may be tangential to the product. However, by taking a fresh look at supply chains and leveraging new and unique partnerships, some brands are making a major impact in the lives of those in developing countries, while meeting the high standards set by consumers.
This week, Nordstrom launched the She Makes It Collection in collaboration with nonprofit partner Piece & Co. and a group of eight major fashion brands. The collection, which sourced materials from female artisans in developing countries, features products from Alice + Olivia, Current/Elliott, DVF, Joie, Rebecca Minkoff, Theory, The Honest Company and Tory Burch. The program looks to help raise women out of poverty by providing sustainable employment through artisan work. In fact, as Nordstrom's dedicated Piece & Co. website reveals, "artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world, only behind agriculture." And Piece & Co.'s website is quick to point out the impact a major fashion brand can make on the lives of artisans, "We estimate that an average one order from a brand can employ between 75 and 100 artisans for two to three months." Each item in the line highlights information about the artisans and unique processes to make the garments, such as "made on a loom by artisan weavers in India" or "dyed using traditional methods by artisans in Mexico."
As brands take a magnifying glass to their supply chains, we are beginning to see more innovative approaches to not only how, but where companies are getting their materials. The She Makes It collection shows even major brands with large and complex supply chains can support artisans in developing countries, while bringing these individual stories to life for consumers at point of purchase. And Nordstrom's latest partnership only highlights that when women are able to gain sustainable employment, entire communities can rise up with them.