Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Rae Bag

Today sees the launch of Larone Artisans, a company making beautiful bags who are already garnering attention in the world of ethical fashion.  It’s no wonder given the that all the designs, from clutches to carry-alls, combine style with traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials and fair employment practices.

I’ve been following Larone’s development for a while now and was delighted when they named one of their range after me.  Yes, like the Hermes Kelly and Birkin and Mulberry’s Alexa, you can now buy a Rae bag!  I’ve been toting mine (as pictured above) around for a week now and it’s already a firm favourite – and has solicited a lot of compliments!

To celebrate their launch, Larone Artisans have kindly offered an exclusive 30 percent discount on purchases to the lovely readers of my newsletter.  Of course, you can always access this by signing up for the monthly mailing 🙂

Last week, I caught up with one of Larone’s co-founders, Leticia Labre.  She’s based in New York while her partner Jennifer Lo is in Manilla, allowing close contact with the Filipino craftwomen who make the bags.

Rae: Tell us about Larone Artisans.

Leticia: Larone Artisans is a brand of handmade handbags mainly made out of natural plant fibers. Larone bags are handwoven by skilled craftsmen and women using traditional weaving techniques.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Enchanted River Oval

Why did you decide to create a bag company?

Jennifer comes from a family with a long legacy in weaving and artisanship. Her grandfather learned to weave wicker furniture as a twelve year old orphan to support himself. Through sheer hard work, he was eventually able to open his own wicker furniture factory. Jennifer’s mother had the idea of making purses handwoven from natural fibers and has worked with artisanal communities for more than thirty years since.

Jennifer now runs the workshop, using some of the same materials and weaving techniques her grandfather did and working with some of the artisans who saw her grow up. Larone Artisans mission is to introduce these beautiful handbags to a wider audience through our retail website.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Wind Chaser Wicker Saddle

Have ethical values always been central to your vision?

Growing up with a loving family and being given a good education in a country [the Philippines] where many live beneath the poverty line, we are always conscious of our blessings and thus our responsibility to improve our community.

Larone Artisans’ vision is to give continuous livelihood to our weavers throughout the year and not just seasonally.

How did you connect with the women who produce your bags?

From our travels around the Philippines, we have met with artisan communities who make exquisite handcrafts that are easily translated into fashionable handbags.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Serene Waters Wicker

Have you seen a growing interest in ethical fashion?

In a world of fast fashion, Larone stands out because we do not use the traditional model of having a factory, we work with artisans in their communities.

Women are able to work from home while taking care of their families. We produce in small batches, always mindful of the impact to the environment.

People are beginning to be more appreciative of slow fashion. It’s not a rush to get the product to market but rather a thoughtful process of livelihood, product development, intertwined with people and the environment. So yes, there has been a growing interest.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Sporty Straw Tote

What are the challenges facing ethical manufacturers?  Are these different to ‘mainstream’ companies?

Slow fashion manufacturers are faced with the pressure of keeping up with fast fashion brands.

With woven handbags, there are no shortcuts because there is no machine to speed up the process.

Just extracting raw materials such as fibers is a tedious process and the challenge is
to keep the process sustainable for seasons to come.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Aqua Reef Wicker

Do you have an image of the typical Larone Artisans customer?

The Larone woman has a quirky sense of style and is not afraid to stand out. No boring and safe black leather bag for her! Give her pompoms! Give her color and exotic materials!

She appreciates the handmade details of Larone bags and is attracted to its raw natural character.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Peacock Feathers Signature

What are your backgrounds and how did you guys meet?

I grew up in the Philippines but was living in the US/UK for a long time, most recently as a climate change consultant. Five years ago I moved back to the Philippines, but I knew it was just going to be a stopover before moving back West again. I was looking for a project that could move with me and move me. I had heard about Jennifer and Larone through mutual friends and was immediately excited. First, I love purses (what woman doesn’t)! And they preserve culture and are environmentally-friendly too?? It sounded perfect and it was! I reached out to Jen and here we are 🙂

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Forest Pompom Libby

Which of the bags is the most popular so far?

It’s so hard to say because we’ve received interest and messages on almost every style that we’ve put out on Instagram. At a push I would say maybe the pompom bag for its color, and the wicker saddle bag for its unique shape and material, are slightly more popular.  But there’s definitely a group that’s inspired by abaca, of which The Rae Bag is made.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Queen of the Hills Millie

If you could only have one of the bags, which would you choose?

I LOVE my abaca and gold cord tote. It rises to the occasion and carries itself elegantly when I have a dressy occasion to go to. But it’s just as dependable for daily tasks like going to the grocery or the gym! When I’m feeling drab, it’s my preferred pick-my-look-up accessory.  I’ve even used it to secure my personal space against people who don’t seem familiar with the concept!

If you want to know more about Larone Artisans and their beautiful bags, head to their website at www.laroneartisans.com – but don’t forget you can secure a 30 percent discount exclusively through my newsletter!

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Scrimping with Style

In an article I wrote for Native Magazine last week, I reflected on how the greatest compliment I’ve ever received was being told by a complete stranger passing me in the street that she loved my style.  The fact that we were outside Vogue House in London only added to the magnitude of my pleasure at hearing this!

Charity shop skirt & the washbag that doubled as a clutch bag

I was also thrilled because what the kind stranger particularly liked was my skirt, which I’d bought for £2 from a Scope charity shop in Coventry the previous day.  Since that January day, I’ve worn the skirt innumerable times in all kinds of weathers and I always feel good in it.

We all have these kinds of treasures in our wardrobes.  The items that whenever we pull them on, we instantly get a confidence boost.  The garments that we know will get us through the day (and night too) feeling that bit more pulled together.

Yet as my skirt suggests, our fashion favourites aren’t necessarily the most expensive things that we own.  On the contrary, sometimes it’s the bargain finds that bring us the most happiness!  My friend Catherine over at Midlands Minimalist shares this view; she found that a cream and black Jean Muir skirt that she picked up in a dress agency fitted her perfectly and lasted for years.

Sartorial scrimping doesn’t mean sacrificing style. 

Choose to make-do-and-mend, whether for financial or ethical reasons, can drive ingenuity.  Not being able to chuck money at wardrobe crisis forces us to come up with more creative solutions.

Scrimping Style: washbag that doubled as a clutch bag || raeritchie.com

I admit that this is a lesson that I’ve had to learn over and over again.  I’ve made expensive mistakes, like limited edition trainers in a colour I loved but that I only wore once or twice because at the time I always wore heels.  In contrast, some maroon canvas pumps that I got for 20p from a jumble sale had a happy life on my feet last summer.  When I then wore out another pair of second hand trainers, I figured maybe it was time to invest in some brand new ones.

 

Last week I forgot to take a clutch bag on an overnight trip.  Given half a chance, I’d have purchased another but as that wasn’t possible I ended up using my small washbag instead.  I got several compliments on it and afterwards was glad to not have impulse purchase guilt.

Changing the buttons

Changing the buttons seems to have particularly magic powers in the realm of make-do-and-mend.  Over the years I’ve had two gorgeous second hand coats (one from a rail at the back of an ice cream parlour in the Cotswolds) that just needed replacement buttons to bring them back to life.  If you’re a bit uncertain about how to do this, Jen Gale of My Make Do and Mend Life has a straightforward guide to this entry level repair job.

Scrimping Style || raeritchie.com

Life styling

It isn’t just our wardrobes that can flourish when opt to make-do-and-mend.  It can benefit our spaces too.  Recently one of the sun loungers broke beyond repair, prompting a search for some new garden furniture.  Determined to continue the thrift theme, I dug two cream kitchen chairs that we no longer use out of the garage (purchased at the tip shop for £3) and found a butcher’s block in a local charity warehouse.  I added two bright cushions from John Lewis in the sale, and that little corner is now a new seating area.  And I feel inordinately proud of what £20 can do!

Scrimping with style

I’m now a bit obsessed with this idea of scrimping with style, looking around wondering what I can tackle next!

To help scratch my new itch, share your scrimping with style stories.  Tell your thrift treasure tales!

Reworked, reused, recycled – whatever it is, I’d love to hear about times when you’ve scrimped but the results have seemed anything but cheap.

You can comment below or on social media.  And if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do share – it really does make a huge difference!

Thank you for reading 🙂

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Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

While the sun shone down gloriously on London this Tuesday, I spent the day in the giant greenhouse that is Kensington Olympia.  I was there for a trade show featuring lots (and I mean *lots*) of companies looking for new retail outlets; imagine the Clothes Show or the Ideal Home exhibition without being able to buy any of the goods.  This is probably a good thing as I wanted so much, from sea shell earrings to several different kinds of bag to some oversize pink earrings!

Window shopping opportunities aside, I was there on a specific mission. 

In my fashion and beauty writing, I’m committed to featuring eco, ethical and sustainable firms as much as I possibly can.  In particular, I want to highlight the many innovative and stylish small brands working in this area – brands that don’t have huge publicity budgets but deserve exposure.

At Olympia, I was looking for companies doing good work in terms of conscious consumption so that I could share them with you.

Boy did I find some!  Below I’ve detailed my highlights in five categories (beauty, candles, fashion, jewellery and other).  I hope that you like their look, and their ethos, as much as I did.  Visit their websites, follow them on social media (check out my following lists on Twitter and Instagram if you like) and next time you’re making a purchase, consider buying from one of them.

‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ Lao Tzu

Do you have any brands that you like to recommend?  Tell me about them!  You can comment below.  Plus if you enjoyed reading this post, please do tell others about it on social media – it really helps!  Sharing buttons are also below.

 

  • Beauty

Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products

Corinne Taylor Organic Aromatherapy

Natural, organic handcrafted and vegan friendly, never animal tested, ethically sourced and eco-friendly handmade products in recyclable packaging.  Also free from SLS, parabens, synthetic fragrance, petroleum and mineral oils [That’s quite a list!].

Nathalie Bond Organics

Small batches of handcrafted botanical skincare and essential oils candles made using completely natural and organic ingredients [These aren’t a new discovery – I love their soap, as I mentioned last week – but they definitely warrant a mention].

Nathalie Bond Organics - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Savon Stories

Raw minimalist organic skincare, handcrafted in England and made according to the family’s century’s old ethos of nurturing the best of good green earth and being rich with less than more.

 

  • Candles
The Bird Box - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
The Bird Box
The Bird Box - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
The Bird Box

The Bird Box

Sustainably sourced, handmade in Britain candles and home scents made using pure essential oils.

 

Join

Vegan, carbon neutral natural soy wax candles with cotton core wicks, essential oils and recycled packaging, handcrafted in small batches in a garden studio.

 

Join - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

The London Refinery - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

The London Refinery

Candles free from petrochemicals, parabens and synthetic fragrances.

 

 

 

 

Sun.Day - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Sun.Day of London

100% free from synthetic perfumes, chemicals and paraffin, using only GMO-free coconut and plant waxes, pure cotton wicks and uniquely formulated aromatherapy grade essential oils.

 

 

 

Sun.Day - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

  • Fashion

Aura Que - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Aura Que

Each product is created by handicraft charity units or World Fair Trade Organization producer groups in Nepal, giving local people an income in line with fair trade principles along with a continually developing commitment to minimising environmental impact as much as possible.

By Studio Hand - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

By Studio Hand

All products are designed and made in the UK using nontoxic dyes and organic fabrics; all are vegan.  The clutch bags are hand painted and made from abstract paintings, making each one unique.

 

Egos Copenhagen - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Egos Copenhagen

Natural wool slippers designed in Denmark, manufactured in Nepal using eco-friendly dyes, World Fair Trade Organization certified.  Profits also support a Nepalese orphanage.

 

 

Pala Sunglasses - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Pala Sunglasses

 

Pala Sunglasses

For every pair of sunglasses bought, one person in Africa who needs prescription glasses gets them.

Pala Sunglasses - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Kimono - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Studio Kimono
Studio Kimono - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Studio Kimono

 

 

Studio Kimono

Vintage silk kimonos from Kyoto are upcycled into unique new items, such as clutch bags and jackets.

 

 

 

Terracotta Row - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Terracotta Row

These bags are made in England from fabric discarded by industry.

 

 

Valentina Karellas -Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

Valentina Karellas

Trans-seasonal designs made from textile factories’ surplus yarn.

 

 

  • Jewellery and Accessories
All The Things We Like - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
All The Things We Like

All the Things We Like

Designed and produced locally to their Dutch studio using local artisans and social workplaces as well as environmentally sound materials such as FSC certified or recycled wood.

Artisan Life - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Artisan Life

Artisan Life

Focused on fair trading and supporting Columbian artisans, particularly women with no other employment options, while also using suppliers certified by the Administrative Department of the Environment in Columbia.

Caliz Jewellery - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
‘Vegetable ivory’ seed used in Caliz London jewellery

 

 

 

 

Caliz London

Handcrafted jewellery created from vegetable ivory, a seed from a Columbian palm tree – a natural, ethical and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory.

 

Just Trade - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
A Just Trade collaboration with WWF
Just Trade - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Just Trade

 

Just Trade

Just Trade collaborates directly with eight groups of artisans in Peru, Ecuador and India to create handmade jewellery that is fairly traded and crafted from locally-sourced and ethical materials where possible.

Ziko Afrika - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

Ziko Afrika

Founded by two sisters, Ziko Afrika (‘Afrika has it’) creates modern jewellery using traditional craftsmanship by local artisans in Kenya.

 

Ziko Afrika - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

  • Other areas
Anneka Textiles - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Anneka Textiles

Anneka Textiles

Creating upcycled homeware by taking mixed fibre knitwear, returning it back to fibre then re-spinning and felting into new sustainable material without using any harsh dyes or chemicals.

Helen Moore Revival Collection - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Helen Moore Revival Collection

 

 

 

 

Helen Moore

The Revival Collection of home accessories is made using off-cuts from the fast fashion t-shirt industry that are saved, sorted, shredded, woven and then reused by Indian families working in good conditions.

Tangent GC - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Tangent GC

 

TangentGC

Organic skin care along with garment care and shoe care, inspired by the creator’s grandfather, designed to allow us to better look after what we already own.

 

 

 

 

Seedball

Seedballs are designed to encourage bees and butterflies by making it easier for everyone to grow either wildflowers or herbs or salad.  They’ve been designed specifically for a north eastern European climate and each one containing of these British made balls contains a mini ecosystem of seeds, clay, peat-free compost and a little chilli powder to deter predators!  This is a new concept in the UK but seed balls have been used in ecological restoration projects around the world.

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Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year

Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com
L to R: Sarah & Rhoda of P.I.C. Style, Sophie of Gung-Ho Designs, Nina of War & Drobe, Kenny of Poli & Jo – all designers at the Shoreditch Pop Up Shop || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

I’ve realised that my own fashion philosophy is quickly beginning to emerge now that I’m spending more time immersed in thinking and writing about the subject.  The phrase that keeps coming to mind is that we need to take fashion both more and less seriously.

We need to take fashion both more and less seriously.

At first glance this is a paradox but less contradictory than it sounds.

We can take fashion more seriously by looking closely at what we are wearing, where it has come from and what practices (working and environmental) have been involved in the creation process.

We can use our consumer power to support businesses who are trying to create new models of manufacture and retailing.  

Yet this consideration of the business side of fashion doesn’t preclude a bit of fun.

It is still possible to be playful and creative in what we wear.

Too often we take the appearance side seriously while neglecting to consider the actually serious side at all, but we can reverse this mindset.

Last Wednesday, I encountered an opportunity to do just this when I attended the press night for a pop-up shop in Shoreditch.  The garments and accessories on display were beautiful but had quirky elements as well, from fun prints to big bows to unusual materials.

At the same time, all the goods for sale had an ethical twist one way or another, including using up discarded fabrics to stylish but slow fashion to supporting key environmental causes with each purchase.

It felt like a really exciting and growing movement to be part of, and the evening really resonated with my ‘take fashion both more and less seriously’ ethos.

Alas the pop up shop will be closed by the time this post goes live but you can still buy from the brands featured via their websites.  Here are my recommendations based on the makers that I met that night, giving you some new names to check out in the new year…

© Gung Ho Designs || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© Gung Ho Designs || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

Gung Ho Designs

Created by Sophie Dunster, Gung Ho Designs is comprised of organic cotton handmade garments all of which tell an important environmental tale.

Each features a different print, from bees to leopards to elephants, and when you purchase an item you receive a booklet explaining the challenges facing that particular animal.  Not only does this raise awareness, but with each sale a donation is made to a relevant good cause.

 

© Margot and Mila || Moon phase ring || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© Margot and Mila || Moon phase ring || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

Margot and Mila

Named after important women who’ve influenced her, Lucinda Burke’s gorgeous jewellery collection is handmade in London and uses ethically sourced precious stones.  Lucinda also does bespoke commissions if you’re after a special piece!

 

 

 

 

© P.I.C collection || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© P.I.C collection || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

P.I.C. Style

Rhoda and Sarah of P.I.C. Style may produce a versatile and interchangeable capsule collection but I wanted to buy every single item in it!  From a base of eight pieces they claim you can create over fifty outfits combinations, allowing you to make a great slow fashion statement.

These are definitely garments that you’ll want to wash and wear for a long time.  Even the partner of another designer in the pop-up was sporting their peg trousers!

 

© Poli and Jo || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© Poli and Jo || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

 

Poli & Jo

Kenny of Poli & Jo usually creates limited edition handbags and bags that he sells from his long-established stall on Shoreditch Market but when he realised that car firm Land Rover had leftover roof material, a new concept was born.  Alongside his usual range, Kenny now crafts tote bags made from this recycled material.

The result is beautifully styled bags with a hefty dose of British heritage alongside modern design and durability.  If a Land Rover roof can survive the African desert, you are not going to wear the material out on the 283 bus.

© War & Drobe || Tuesday Reviews Day 20-12-2016 || raeritchie.com
© War & Drobe || Ethical fashion in London: New names for the new year || raeritchie.com

 

War and Drobe

Designer Nina Kovacevic and her family came to Britain as refugees from the Balkans War and they settled in London.  This is where Nina’s War and Drobe company is now based, with her making all the items by hand.

There’s a clear vintage influence on the brand’s vibe, with bolero jackets and close fitting dresses alongside high waisted trousers and jackets.  If it’s a feminine silhouette that you’re after, get some War and Drobe in your wardrobe.

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