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.“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.”
FAST FASHION BELONGS WITH FAST FOOD.
Chains like Forever21 and H&M stuff their stores with cheap, abundant fashions changing faster than the seasons. But just like fast food, fast fashion production cuts corners at every level: growing materials, ma, 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 will survive more wash cycles? Guess which one will look more expensive and polished?
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?
AND THEY’RE REALLY CUTE.
Think Francesca’s Closet or Anthropologie in terms of style.
“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.”
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 a feel-good 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?
All photos courtesy of Raven + Lily.