Hand-craft has always been at the heart of what Monsoon does. Helping to sustain age-old hand-craft techniques and traditions, their beautiful new ARTISAN collection showcases truly wonderful work by skilled craftspeople across Asia.
Actually, it’s so much more than a label. Often denoting up to 20 or more hours of hand-work on a single piece, ARTISAN signposts the commitment the brand has to sustaining traditional craft techniques as well as creating livelihoods. Most ARTISAN pieces are hand-crafted by their suppliers’ networks of skilled craftspeople. But, each season, Monsoon also selects some ARTISAN pieces to be made with their charity partners such as the SEWA Embroidery Centre in Delhi, which provides employment and support for disadvantaged local women. In all cases, ARTISAN helps sustain, nurture and cherish age-old hand-work traditions – ensuring that the skilled craftspeople are properly rewarded for their wonderful work.
OR MORE HOURS HAND-EMBROIDERY ON MANY PIECES
ARTISAN PRODUCTS PRODUCED YEARLY
COMMITMENT OFAND GROWING
ARTISANS ENGAGED ON OUR PRODUCT
CHILDREN HELPED TO GO TO SCHOOL THROUGH OUR ARTISAN WELFARE PROGRAME
a distinctive hand-print technique that uses wax to prevent dye from penetrating areas of cloth. It can be repeated over and over again to create complex and colourful patterns.
an age-old technique that involves hand-dipping fine fabric in dye to create highly distinctive graduated light-to-dark or contrast colour effects.
Our ARTISAN range showcases a fascinating variety of intricate techniques from traditional kantha, aari and mirror work to shimmering crystal and sequin decoration
In this complex technique, a pattern is built up by using a succession of hand-carved wooden blocks to apply each individual colour.
Our ARTISAN range also features hand-knitting, hand-crocheting, hand-weaving, hand-carving, and hand-painting. We currently produce over 300,000 ARTISAN items each year – supported by a £6-million annual investment. And we’re committed to expanding the range. It’s at the very heart of who we are and what we do. Uniquely and absolutely Monsoon.
WE WANT TO DO RIGHT BY THE PEOPLE
WHO MAKE OUR BEAUTIFUL THINGS.
We don’t run our own factories or directly employ the artisans who hand-craft and embellish our most exceptional pieces. But we do ask every single one of our suppliers to commit to the Monsoon Accessorize Code Of Conduct. It’s based on ETI standards, and aims to protect workers by setting out minimum requirements on working conditions, pay and employment rights.
This is just a starting point. To us, ethical trading is all about building long-standing, sustainable relationships. Although we’ve worked with many of our suppliers for over 20 years, we never ever turn a blind eye. To ensure we drive meaningful and enduring improvements in working conditions, our response to any issue is collaborative. Wherever we find a problem, we work together to put things right. And we monitor progress through regular visits to suppliers’ factories from our own audit teams plus external experts too. If a supplier doesn’t come up to scratch within a reasonable time frame, we can and will move our business elsewhere.
Our efforts don’t stop at the factory gates. They extend to the artisans and other skilled workers who help create some of our most special things – often in small local workshops or even their own homes. We require all our suppliers to ensure these craftspeople receive fair ‘piece rates’ for their wonderful work. And this is closely monitored by our ethical compliance team.
Working with small communities of craftspeople in faraway places is a complex process with lots of challenges. But it’s always been an important part of who we are and what we do. We’re proud to help generate incomes, sustain livelihoods and preserve age-old hand-craft techniques.
Peter Simon, founder
EMPOWERING WOMEN, ENHANCING LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS
The Monsoon Accessorize Trust, founded in 1994 now helps over 10,000 disadvantaged women and children
in Asia, each year, through a range of education, healthcare and income-generation projects.
“Our priority is driving sustainable change, with a focus on helping artisan communities and empowering girls and women to build brighter futures. Current initiatives include a programme of healthcare provision in remote villages of Rajhastan (India), special support for a Delhi hostel sheltering homeless girls and employment for women artisans in Kabul (Afghanistan).
Each year, our UK stores also support some fantastic local charities such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Alzeimer’s Society, Cancer Research UK and the Rugby Portobello Trust. ”
WOMEN AND CHILDREN GIVEN
BETTER ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
CHILDREN HELPED TO SCHOOL
WOMEN HELPED TO EARN A LIVING
We believe in the impact and enduring benefits of trade over aid. But we don’t just aim to help sustain artisan communities by placing orders for the beautiful and unique things they produce.
Our community programme specifically supports the following collectives and projects:
- SEWA Embroidery Centre –a women’s co-operative providing access to education, training, micro finance and fair wages for over 500 disadvantaged embroidery workers in Delhi. Now fully integrated into our supply chain, SEWA is responsible for at least five different styles within our ARTISAN collection each season.
- Stree Shakti – a women’s quilting co-operative in the foothills of the Himalayas. We fund education, transport and support for product development.
- Barabanki Weavers Project – an initiative to improve livelihoods of hand-loom weavers in an area outside Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). We fund education, training and healthcare.
- ASK Sarai Tareen – a ground-breaking project to recruit children out of child labour and into education in an area renowned for metal handicrafts and jewellery production.
- Afghan Silk Project – a project with Christian Aid to help revive the silk industry in the Herat province of Afghanistan, providing income opportunities for local women.
- Turquoise Mountain Foundation – a project in Kabul to produce jewellery with women artisans, in collaboration with jewellery designer Pippa Small.
- ASHIANA – a not-for-profit organization creating livelihoods in jewellery-making for women affected by HIV/AIDS in a Delhi slum area.
- SADHNA – a collective in Udaipur (Rajasthan) which provides income opportunities for desert artisans specialising in intricate embroidery.
CHILDREN IN ARTISAN COMMUNITIES HELPED TO SCHOOL
WOMEN ARTISANS HELPED TO
EARN A LIVING
SUPPORTING OUR EFFORTS
Everyone who shops with us – and most especially everyone who buys something from our ARTISAN range – is enabling us to help sustain age-old traditional hand-crafts as well as the livelihoods of skilled craftspeople.
But you can also help us raise funds for specific causes by shopping from our charity ranges. We’ve recently collaborated with cool and caring flip-flop label Gandys to raise money for Sri Lankan charity, EMERGE. And our link-up with jewellery designer Pippa Small supports the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan.
During our annual Charity Week, people working within our London HQ and in our stores throughout the UK are generous in their support and tireless in their efforts to raise funds for The Monsoon Accessorize Trust. We’re also sincerely grateful for the generous support of customers, suppliers and other businesses with which we work.
We welcome any contribution, great or small, to our charitable Trust. A donation from a UK tax-payer made through Gift-Aid usually enables the Trust to claim a further 25% at no additional cost to the donor. Payroll Giving ensures a donation is taken before tax, usually making the net cost to donor of a £10 gift just £8 or even less – depending on tax status.
Other ways to get involved include volunteering to help at fund-raising events such as our regular sample sales in London or opportunities to work on one of our Trust-supported projects in India. To find out more or register interest, please contact us as at email@example.com
THE WORLD AROUND US
The first Monsoon collections featured gorgeous bohemian clothes made in Indian villages using hand-loomed cotton fabrics, organic vegetable dyes and artisanal block-printing techniques. And, although we’ve grown into a global brand, we’ve never lost our concern for the environment or commitment to ethical trading. So, as well as striving to do right by the people who make our beautiful things, we work hard to reduce the environmental impact of all that we do. Absolutely committed to best practices in recycling and minimising waste, we’ve recently introduced rainwater harvesting and expanded recycling facilities at our Head Office in London. We’ve also dispensed with all unnecessary packaging from our products. Wherever possible, we use only FSC-certified paper and recyclable plastic. And, through our Clothes For Life campaign, we’re inspiring customers to ‘upcycle’ rather than discard their pre-worn Monsoon garments. As a measure of our passion for sustainable fashion, we sponsored London Fashion Week’s ESTETHICA showcase for ethical designers every season for 5 years. More recently, we’ve supported a highly creative awareness-raising collaboration between artist-designer Alex Noble’s pioneering EMG (Everything Must Go) upcycling project and SEWA, our charity partner in Delhi. We’re also working with Royal College of Art students on artisan-inspired collections. Other key projects include a 3-year initiative with Oxfam to help Indian cotton farmers convert to organic farming methods, and a scheme to help Indian fashion students develop and use sustainable fabrics.
Our Green Action Programme, augmented by the introduction of energy-efficient fittings throughout our store network, has already achieved significant reductions in our total energy consumption. But we’re not resting there. We’ve targeted ourselves to achieve a further 10% saving across all our UK operations by 2016. And we’ve pledged to minimise our use of air freight. Following concerns raised about the treatment of angora rabbits in Chinese farms, during 2013-14, we conducted detailed audits of the farms used by our suppliers. These audits confirmed that live plucking was not used anywhere in our supply chain. Our supplier farms worked towards the 5 Freedoms of animal welfare and, in particular, freedom from hunger, thirst, pain, discomfort and distress. They took great care to ensure that the shearing process did not cause stress or injury. However, despite the above, we recognise that some of our customers still feel uncomfortable with the continued inclusion of angora in our ranges. For this reason, we have decided to end the use of angora in all future production of our clothing and accessories. We operate a strict policy of zero-tolerance towards abuse and maltreatment of animals in our supply chain. We don’t use real fur. In fact, the only animal-derived materials we use (eg leather, feathers, down) are by-products of the food industry. And we take special care to ensure any luxury yarns (such as alpaca, mohair, cashmere, angora and merino) are sourced only from producers who uphold high standards in animal husbandry. No animal testing is permitted in the development or manufacture of our cosmetics or fragrances.
Trust patron Jodie Kidd and Monsoon Accessorize employees on a charity project