Have you ever traveled to a foreign country and seen gorgeous artisan-made pieces in a marketplace, but wondered how they could possibly blend with your style back home, or, in that same market, found clothing items that looked like they were straight out of Forever 21? After years spent advancing in a career in fair trade, Marissa Heyl noticed that both of these design approaches often resulted in low sales. With that knowledge she took a different path and launched Symbology — a modern artisan-made clothing line that preserves the culture of it’s makers.
Symbology employs female artisans from India and the West Bank. They work closely with the artisans to develop designs that are popular in America, while still incorporating and preserving their traditional art forms. The women they employ are paid a living wage, because Heyl’s hope is that they will change their own lives, that of their families, and finally the world through sustained work opportunities.
I’ve had my eye on Symbology ever since I made the decision to switch to conscious consumerism, so I was excited to finally collaborate and try on their beautiful dresses in person. This lipstick red chiffon maxi was my instant favorite; it’s the perfect example of traditional art techniques blended with modern design. The fabric was hand printed in India with an adorable gold cacti print, and if you know me you know I’m a sucker for anything with succulents or cacti on it. I can’t think of anything more fitting to wear for an afternoon stroll around Venice.
The Kimono Maxi Wrap dress is a best seller for Symbology, and I was drawn to this lovely peacock variation. The soft blush fabric paired with the delicate (hand beaded!) peacock feathers, blurs the line between statement-making and minimalist, and the result is a feminine luxury piece that can be dressed up or down.
The silk T-Shirt Minidress can be worn as a dress, or as a tunic over leggings. I got lots of compliments on the gorgeous plunging back and striking sapphire color. The beaded jewel flowers and silk satin fabric make this mini the perfect party attire.
My goal in this movement is to bring ethical fashion from a niche to a norm, and Heyl’s goal is similar – to redefine the fashion industry and make fair trade sexy. After checking out her latest collection I can tell you that she’s doing just that, and doing it better than anyone else I know. I chose three dresses to photograph, but I encourage you to head to their site and check out the whole collection. Along with sexy fair trade dresses, you’ll also find discounted menswear, and modern, artisan-made home goods. Use coupon “MichelleForGood” to take 20% off your next purchase here. Happy shopping for good!
Wardrobe provided by Symbology