26. Lovin’ Chan Luu

The Hand of Fashion - - CONTENTS -

Viet­namese-born Chan Luu launched her epony­mous jew­elry brand in 1996 with a core belief that her prod­ucts would be “to­tally hand­made with love and care by skilled ar­ti­sans,” a belief that is in per­fect har­mony with the ITC Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive. In 2001 she de­signed her now fa­mous wrap bracelet after be­ing in­spired by weav­ing tech­niques she dis­cov­ered in In­dia. The bracelet has evolved many times over - for both women and men. Each and ev­ery wrap bracelet is still hand­crafted in Viet­nam by lo­cal ar­ti­sans and has grown to in­cor­po­rate a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing cus­tom dyed leathers, ster­ling sil­ver, semi pre­cious stones and Swarovski crys­tals. The bracelets have be­come a sta­ple ac­ces­sory for the likes of Lady Gaga and fash­ion blog­ger Rumi Neely. The Chan Luu brand con­tin­ued to grow over the past decade whilst stay­ing com­pletely true to the brand’s core ethos and roots. A cloth­ing line was added in 2004, a cash­mere scarf line in 2005, a highly suc­cess­ful on­line store launched in 2006, a men’s jew­elry line in 2010 and a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Breast­Cancer.org fol­lowed in 2011. Then, after the Haiti earth­quake, the Clin­ton Bush Haiti Fund, recog­nis­ing Chan’s ex­ist­ing track record work­ing with ar­ti­sans, in­vited her to visit Haiti and help lo­cal ar­ti­sans to con­nect with the global ex­port mar­ket. She saw great op­por­tu­nity there to cre­ate a sus­tain­able in­dus­try in Haiti and sub­se­quently launched her own line Chan Luu eth­i­cal fash­ion in­ter­na­tional to fur­ther this ef­fort. Not long after she met Si­mone Cipri­ani and es­tab­lished a re­la­tion­ship with the ITC Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive to cre­ate work for ar­ti­sans in Kenya. Since Jan­uary 2013, Chan Luu’s eth­i­cal fash­ion in­ter­na­tional line has given work to nearly 800 Kenyan peo­ple, 98% of whom are women, cre­ated jobs in 24 in­di­vid­ual com­mu­nity groups and pro­vided not only the op­por­tu­nity to work, but to en­gage in a mean­ing­ful and re­spon­si­ble business. “Eth­i­cal fash­ion is tak­ing an ac­tive role in chang­ing the world for the bet­ter; in my case, pro­vid­ing a sense of dig­nity and a sus­tain­able sys­tem of support for our ar­ti­sans around the world who need work, not char­ity,” says Chan. In April 2013, the first ‘Kenya Col­lec­tion’ hit stores. Hand­crafted by

EFI ar­ti­sans in Kenya the wrap bracelets are in­spired by the in­tri­cate bead­ing tech­niques cre­ated by the Maa­sai tribe. The col­lec­tion in­cludes pat­terned sin­gle wrap and three­wrap bracelets wo­ven onto raw cut leathers and comes in a wide range of colours. Si­mone Cipri­ani, in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the re­la­tion­ship: “The work Chan is car­ry­ing out in Africa and Haiti is a great con­tri­bu­tion to­ward poverty re­duc­tion and em­pow­er­ment of women. It isn’t char­ity; it’s business. She has been able to cre­ate fair and in­spir­ing work that gives marginal­ized peo­ple the power to change their own lives.”

Watch the film: Chan Luu work­ing with ar­ti­sans in Kenya

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