Raven + Lily is an antidote to the fast fashion machine. Partnering with makers to improve lives and create stylish, timeless pieces. They invite you to join the partnership.

Once upon a time, what we wore was painstakingly handmade. Each garment told a story: farmers growing and harvesting cotton, weavers producing cloth, artisans creating something beautiful. And the shopper knew who made their clothes.

Today we take for granted that what we wear is quick and easy to obtain, hot from the runway to racks. Oh, and cheap. We never see or think of the makers behind the shirts and skirts we toss casually into our carts. And then throw away after a few wears.

In our quest for cheap and disposable, the true human and environmental cost is hidden.

Raven+Lily is changing this story, partnering with female makers throughout the design and production process to create unique and timeless pieces.

Raven + Lily beads

“One of the distinguishing traits of Raven + Lily apparel and accessories is that the items are handmade,” founder Kirsten Dickerson explains on the shop’s blog. “We don’t work with factories and we don’t mass produce in the typical ‘fast fashion’ way.”

Not up on this lingo? Think Forever21: cheap, abundant, changing with the seasons. But just like fast food, fast fashion production cuts corners at every level: growing materials, making clothing, selling pieces at the outrageously low prices we’ve come to expect. Like slow food, slow fashion returns to our roots, resulting in beautiful handmade pieces made with love that respect people and our planet.

These two blouses are very similar, but one takes makers’ lives into account from design to finish. Guess which one we love?

Raven+Lily vs Forever21

Instead of hiding the human effort behind fashion, Raven+Lily wants you to meet the 1,000 at-risk women they partner with to create that perfect dress or necklace. Elsabet, a single mother from Ethiopia, was begging on the street to support her son and now makes necklaces. She wants you to know, when you buy “a necklace you are not just buying jewelry, you are transforming lives”. How is that for a conversation starter at a party?

Another reason we love this company is because unlike the trap many conscious companies fall into of just selling ethics, their pieces are actually stylish.

“We also don’t make crafty items,” Dickerson says. “We make gorgeous, modern designs that reflect the beauty and culture of the women in our partnerships. I can say this because the credit goes to my design team and the women in our partnerships. They are all rockstars in the most epic way.”

Raven + Lily Products

This partnership aspect is crucial. Instead of today’s fashion world where designers are completely disconnected from makers, Raven + Lily partners with makers to build designs on the bedrock of their own skills. It’s a co-creation model, with awesome statement pieces as its result. Not to mention an awesome story.

Raven + Lily is offering us, as shoppers, a spot in this partnership model as well. If we accept—we are partnering with makers like Ferdoz in India who as a single mother has found dignity and purpose as a Raven+Lily maker and is able to send her 5 daughters to school. Ferdoz is excited to know that beautiful women around the world are wearing what she creates.

Can we in our collective womanpower—from designer,  to maker,  to shopper, help this slow fashion model grow?

So go on, this Thanksgiving as you get your holiday shopping list ready, consider thanking someone you love with a timeless Raven+Lily piece. You can let them know that the makers are thankful too.

Sarah Moore
Sarah Moore is a freelance writer who focuses on sustainability, local food, and the weirder side of science. In her spare time she enjoys writing fiction, running, and cooking. Sarah lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, two children, two dogs, and an unshakable colony of June bugs.