There is a new type of luxury that is as much about high-end design as it is about ethical action. Firmly planted at this cross-section is Maiyet, a new collection of exquisite clothes and accessories hand-crafted by various artisans around the world—and available exclusively at Barneys New York.
Forget everything you know about clothing with a cause. With a design team that hails from some of the truly great names in fashion—think Céline, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan—this is clothing you’d pine for regardless of its provenance. Co-founder Kristy Caylor, who formerly helmed Band of Outsiders, has described the collection as, “sophisticated, modern and minimalist in spirit; Maiyet explores the creative tension between the past and the present and unveils the intersection of integrity and beauty.”
But Maiyet’s aesthetics cannot be separated from its ethical aims. Two of its founders, Paul van Zyl and Daniel Lubetzky, have had long (and award-winning) careers in human rights and social entrepreneurship. Upon meeting, both immediately agreed that the surest route to establishing stability and peace in developing countries was promoting self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship.
This is not charity, keep in mind; the brand’s design philosophy is about celebrating “the rare and unexpected,” and for that they need artisans with unique skills and old-world techniques that aren’t as easily found in the developed world anymore. Their partners include carved-block printers in Jaipur, India; hand-loom silk jacquard weavers in Varanasi, India; and Kenyan jewelers working with poured brass, carved horn and bone in Nairobi.
The video below highlights this unprecedented marriage of design, craftsmanship and social consciousness.