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Conscious Luxury

by Marcella Echavania

Top global artisanal designers whose work is stylish and sustainable

These 10 global artisanal designers are redefining what luxury means today and into the future. For them, consciousness means taking a tri-dimensional approach to design: innovation, sustainability and creativity. Their work is fashionable and sustainable as defined by their ethical values such as promoting conscious consumption, fostering a rational use of material, working toward the preservation of old techniques and embracing responsible innovation.

Kenyan Traditions

Adele Dejak, is Kenya’s design guru. She transforms vintage fabric into trendy bags and makes statement jewelry from horn and metals worked in traditional ways. (image above)

Tea Silk

Kathrin von Rechenberg is a German haute couture designer who made it to Beijing looking for tea silk, a traditional southern Chinese fabric made from handwoven silk treated with yam juice and mud. She has made Beijing her home and is a well-known designer experimenting with natural dyes and tea silk.   rechenberg.cn

Upcycling Vintage

Juana Diaz is a Chilean designer/activist who believes in upcycling textiles through therapeutic stitches via her project known as “textiles of the future.” She works with vintage fabrics that are repurposed through stitching, employs people in vulnerable situations and designs modern, geometric clothing.   juanadiaz.cl

New Traditionalism

Ma Ke is a designer whose trajectory took her from being the head of a fast-fashion company to going back to a slow pace of life in rural China where she established Wuyong. She redefines luxury as going backward to move forward.   wuyong.org

Minimalist Approach

Minag Qu is a young designer whose atelier is located in a very old Hutong (“lane” or “alley”) in Beijing. She researches old techniques all over China and applies her design principle of subtraction, only leaving the best materials and process in sight.

Indigenous Brocade

Claudia Muñoz is an activist whose main voice is designing exquisite pieces from indigenous brocade from Chiapas. She has worked with textiles from Oaxaca and Chiapas for eight years. She is known as one of Mexico’s loudest voices regarding respect for tradition and proper authorship. chamuchic.com

New Geometrics

Carla Fernandez has made a name as a designer by re-interpreting geometric indigenous shapes and taking them to new levels.   carlafernandez.com

Indigo and Ixcaco

Olga Reiche from Antigua, Guatemala has dedicated her life to working with back-strap loom (an ancient technique where a loom is literally tied at the weaver’s back) artisans using natural fibers and dyes such as indigo. She has been a great promoter of ixcaco or naturally grown brown cotton.   customtextiledesign.com

Structured Shapes

Philippa Thorne is the designer behind Gone Rural in Swaziland and now the creator behind Khokho, the hand-bag company that is shaking the fashion world. Her innovation is mixing simple rural materials with structured shapes.   khokhoafrica.com

Pure Merino Wool

Paulina Escobar is from Puerto Natales, Patagonia, and created Le Mouton Vert as a response to her interest in traditional craftsmanship and authentic materials from this remote part of the world. She works with merino wool, the whitest in the world, which is transformed by Chilean artisans and her vision for less conspicuous consumption.   lemoutonvert.org

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