According to an old Wayúu legend, the spider taught Wayúu women artisans how to weave stories to remember them and to hand down to their children. Attached to the legend there’s a saying among Wayúu women, “The woman who doesn’t know how to weave is no real woman.”
The Wayuú people live in the desert state of La Guajira in northern Colombia, and have been knitting, crocheting and weaving for centuries. Each woven design carries a meaning that extends far beyond its aesthetic appeal and celebrates individuality and creativity.
Wayúu textile traditions are handed down from the older generation to the younger generation—typically from grandmothers to their granddaughters. Yet, like many indigenous cultures, the young are seduced with the lure of modernisation and ¨better paying jobs¨ in towns and cities.
Interested in the preservation of this traditional craftsmanship and ethnic culture, Procraftinations founder Angelica Salazar is providing marketing and design consultancy to the artisan and designer communities in Colombia, with the aim of providing access to a broader international market to support sustainable community development in Colombia and South America.
Consumers remain key drivers in the demand for gold, as a matter of a fact in 2013, 2,968 tonnes of gold were extracted from the earth, which accounts for over two thirds of the world’s total gold supply. 2,209 tonnes were used to make jewellery.
Illegal gold mining is more common than one might think. The practice has been problematic in countries such as Colombia, Perú and Bolivia, and regardless governments moves to crack down on illegal miners, it can be difficult to get things under control.
As one poignant example, a devastating collapse took place in May 2014 at an illegal gold mine in Colombia. The mine, located in San Antonio near the town of Santander de Quilichao, is one of 14,000 in the country operating without proper permits.
At least 10 people died as a result of the collapse. However, the landslide certainly isn’t the only disaster to have hit Colombia — a week earlier, four miners died in an illegal mine after inhaling toxic gas, according to an article published by the Telegraph last year.
Gold is believed to be a new engine in the Colombian conflict also, supporting the activities of many rebel groups, Moreover , modern mining techniques can be extremely harmful to the environment because of the nature of the equipment and chemicals used during the mining process which can have huge negative impact on the ecosystem.
All that glitters doesn't have a certification label as a fair trade and/or fair mined gold, it´s clear that tracing gold from buyer to jewellery manufacturer to refiner is notoriously difficult despite the gold industry slowly opening its doors to scrutiny. The lack of transparency makes it virtually impossible for consumers to know where and under what conditions the gold in their jewellery was mined.
There are a few Fair Trade Gold authorised suppliers , who can probably recommend to you a brand or designer transforming the precious metal into astonishing pieces. Otherwise you can extend the Fashion Revolution to your accessories choosing alternatives to accessorize your style within the bijoux and costume jewellery categories, using a variety of materials including seed beads, textiles, fibres and non-precious metals transformed into valuable and striking fashion accessories.
On 24 April 2013, 1133 people died in the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A further 2500 were injured. They were killed while working for familiar fashion brands in one of the many ‘accidents’ that plague the garment industry.
Fashion Revolution is a global coalition of designers, academics, writers, business leaders and parliamentarians calling for systemic reform of the fashion supply chain.
In short we believe that 1133 is too many people to lose from the planet in one factory, on one terrible day without that standing for something.
Fashion Revolution sees the Rana Plaza disaster as a metaphorical call to arms, and Fashion Revolution Day, held annually on the 24th of April, keeps the most vulnerable in the supply chain in the public eye.
We need it to show the world that change is possible.
The true cost of the current fashion business model must not be forgotten: complacency and distraction means unless we resolve here and now, incidents such as Rana Plaza will be dismissed as an unfortunate reality of contemporary life.
We must not allow that to happen.
We want to use the power of fashion to inspire a permanent change in the fashion industry and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. At the moment of purchase, most of us are unaware of the processes and impacts involved in the creation of a garment. We need to reconnect through a positive narrative, to understand that we aren’t just purchasing a garment or accessory, but a whole chain of value and relationships.
By asking consumers, designers, brands, and all those who care to ask a simple question “Who Made My Clothes?” we envisage a change in perspective that will lead to a deeper understanding. In our particular case the question is "Who Made My Accessories?" Be curious, find out, do something.
Demand to know who are the individuals who makes your fashion and discover the organisations working on the field to make change happen.
“Fashion Revolution promises to be one of the very few truly global campaigns to emerge this century” – Baroness Young of Hornsey, UK
Find us on Twitter @FashRev_Colombia and use the hashtag #whomademyclothes to join the conversation.
While there is barely a Colombian who has not been affected by the five-decade-long internal conflict, it is often the indigenous communities that have been hurt most severely. In the first nine months of 2012 alone, 11,000 indigenous people were forcefully displaced,78 were killed and 47 received death threats.
A few resilient indigenous communities such as the Embera-Jaikerazabi located in Mutatá, Antioquia, have managed to survive the tough reality in which they find themselves caught, and have seen in the medium of craft, an opportunity to improve the quality of life of their people, and in doing so have become a real example to follow for similar communities.
Javier Domico is an indigenous leader, who four years ago undertook the task of advising and assisting in the recovery of craft traditions that had been in danger of becoming lost over time, and is currently coordinating important social projects funded by the local government and private corporate responsibility programs in Colombia. Not only a traditional master craftsman himself, he is also an educator and nowadays leads a group of two male and eleven female household heads, who are handcrafting intricate seed bead accessories, some of the most popular traditional products sold during well established craft trade shows.
His wife and two children are involved in the business too, and Javier gains much satisfaction from being able to pass on the traditional skills and knowledge to his 15 year old son, which will help to preserve the native cultural heritage and rich costumes. Moreover, he proudly states that his wife also has real talent as a designer, although his daughter doesn’t seem very keen on the path as a craftsperson, preferring the academic side ofthings.
Communities like that of the Jaikerazabi work all year long in the hope of making most of their profits during two or three annual trade shows, however the stand fees are becoming very expensive and despite having a lot of success, they would like to have more established and regular customers, meaning more stability and continuity for their businesses.
Javier is also a shop owner in Mutata, but his sales remain limited to local demand, he could sell more but due to being located six hours away from Medellin, his market remains limited and his income unpredictable. We met during one of the prominent craft trade shows, and he sees in the opportunity to showcase his products online with Procraftinations a potential answer to overcoming some of his constraints.
By introducing artisans such as Javier to today's increasingly digital working methods, Procraftinations is providing them with the chance to operate 24/7, accessing global consumers online, and thus empowering their communities, connecting markets and fostering opportunities that could potentially change lives.
Procraftinations.co.uk curates a collection of ethical and sustainable products and sells them according to international fair trade practices. Every product available for purchase in the online shop helps contribute towards generating long term economic relief for the artisans, many of whom come from social minority groups, including indigenous people.
All too often nowadays, artisanal knowledge is failing to be transmitted between generations, and in the words of the elders, they are in need of support to help keep the traditional craftspeople's skills alive. Thus, the aim of Procraftinations is not simply helping communities through charity, but offering more meaningful economic empowerment and sustainable community development in the context of the greater globalized world.
Through collaborative consultancy, designer Angelica Salazar is providing artisans with an insight into wider fashion trends, to envision, prototype, develop and ultimately sell online the fair trade fashion collections displayed.
Who made your accessories? This blog will be dedicated to posting stories from artisans, designers and makers who endeavour to create products that are a display of traditional craftmanship, but at the cutting edge of fashion.