Learn about the Nest charity and how it is working to support artisans and their communities
On the launch night, one only had to witness the mutual delight of New Zealand designer Karen Walker and The Cook Islands’ artisan Tukua Turia to see the brilliance of the concept.
“I brought my culture with me here!” exclaimed Turia, a renowned expert in a unique part-patchwork/part-stitch work technique called Tivaivai. “I’ve wanted to use Tivaivai before, but it never felt right to ‘appropriate’ it,” added Walker. “This way, the two of us can share our Pacific culture, yet create something that goes way beyond what we could have done by ourselves.”
Tukua Turia works within a lively community called The Kūki Airani Creative Māmās. Yet it is more often the case that handworkers find themselves isolated. How to link them to other communities and the wider market while protecting their lifestyles and respecting their cultural or family duties? Enter Nest, a non-profit founded in 2006 by Rebecca van Bergen that is dedicated to building a fair and global handworker economy.
The Nest Guild is a community of more than 400 artisan businesses across more than 70 countries. While employing artisans practicing diverse crafts from shibori dyeing to hand reed weaving, Guild businesses are unified in their common goals for business growth and social improvement in their local communities. The Guild includes access to an online learning hub as well as pro-bono mentoring to help craft-based businesses grow at a scale.
“We are delighted that our support has enabled Nest to invite all the participating artisans to join the Nest Guild. Craft is the second largest employer of women in developing countries. That is why supporting local artisans in scaling up their work is a powerful step towards female empowerment. In business, money is not the only currency. The impact we can create with our services and deeds, or with meaningful, positive products is very powerful”.
Following Nest’s December 2017 launch of its new compliance program designed to ensure artisan and homeworker wellbeing, designers and brands have a new opportunity to improve transparency to handworkers. Artisan business accreditation by Nest has potential to open-up future business opportunities by making responsible sourcing from craftspeople safe and viable. The goal is for designers everywhere to be able to tap into artisan skill bases all across the world and know that those creating handwork do so under conditions that have been assessed to be fair.
“The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange signals a new era in fashion - one in which global craftsmanship - “the art of the handmade” - is reclaiming a place of value,”
“By providing artisans with the opportunity to showcase their skills in the company of esteemed designers like Stella McCartney, the program has achieved what we so often struggle to communicate at Nest: the enduring power of responsible craft to bring beauty, authenticity, and true luxury to contemporary fashion. This shift in perception is an essential change that must take place for heritage techniques across the world to thrive.”
Rebecca van Bergen, Nest Founder and Executive Director
Marion Hume is an international fashion journalist with a strong focus on sustainability. She has been drawing attention to the need for fashion to be ethical since she became Fashion Editor of The (UK) Independent in 1992. Since then, she has been contributing editor to titles including Vogue USA and TIME, has been editor of Vogue Australia and is the London-based, International Fashion Editor for AFR magazine, Australia. She served for five years as Senior Consultant to the UN ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative. She is an ardent advocate to make fashion more fair.
This content has been specifically curated for the Google Arts & Culture platform on behalf of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition that launched on the 19th of February at Buckingham Palace in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.
The project, created and managed by Eco-Age, with the support of The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council.
More information about the images is available by clicking on them.
Read more about the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at http://eco-age.com/commonwealth-fashion-exchange/