The combination of culture and fashion is at times controversial, and at times unquestioned, in mainstream discussions. For years, cultures around the world have been victims of appropriation and marginalization by the fashion industry. Fast fashion companies, like H&M and Zara, have stolen from global fashion - including historically rich artisan traditions - to sell low-priced replicas. Despite a history of appropriation, there is an opportunity to ethically celebrate global fashion and, more importantly, the people and traditions at its roots.
Here's the rundown on cross-cultural fashion and why you should support it.
1. It celebrates culture.
First and foremost, cross-cultural fashion is the fusion of culturally rooted fashion traditions. Done right, cross-cultural fashion acknowledges the history of global fashion and its cultural traditions, such as the passage of handicraft knowledge across generations and the regional diversity of fabrics. The primary goal of cross-cultural fashion is to propel the continuity of these traditions around the world. Unfortunately, cultural appropriation - adopting global attire without regarding its cultural context - threatens to erase traditional practices.
However, cross-cultural fashion offers a nuanced, sensitive approach; it celebrates unique global fabrics and garments while also promoting their history among global markets. Global consumers, therefore, not only shop these global garments but also understand their cultural history. When consumers understand the story behind their garments, they can appreciate the beauty and meaning more.
2. It is ethically made.
At the core of cross-cultural fashion lies another essential value overlooked in mainstream fashion: ethical production. Cross-cultural fashion for Hope Sews means prioritizing ethics at all stages. Hope Sews ensures a safe and respectful environment for the planet and people throughout the production of the garment until it reaches the hands of a global-minded customer. Hope Sews intentionally selects low-waste shipping techniques and only partners with manufacturers ensuring competitive pay and respectful conditions for all employees. Cross-cultural fashion is also a way to importantly uplift people. Cross-cultural fashion can empower women seamstresses, a historically marginalized group, to share their art with global customers while strengthening their voices as true representations of their cultures.
3. It is sustainable
Supporting cross-cultural practices in fashion is also a sustainable approach. First, it ensures the continuance of traditions that have been at risk, such as generational hand-weaving. Secondly, as opposed to fast fashion, cross-cultural ethical fashion can be environmentally sustainable when it does not involve mass production and constant disposal. Instead, cross-cultural fashion brands, which typically launch small seasonal collections, promote mindful consumption.
How we make cross-cultural fashion a reality at Hope Sews.
Hope Sews is a social impact, sustainable fashion brand promoting cross-cultural fashion. The vision for Hope Sews emerged from a first-hand meeting between two impact-driven female entrepreneurs from different parts of the globe - seamstress, Vida Sowah, and Hope Sews founder, Maya Mutalik.
Hope Sews embraces culture and diversity starting from its globally diverse team to each of its culturally informed garments. In short, Hope Sews' clothes reflect its mission: to offer ethically produced garments that celebrate, support, and promote women artisans and seamstresses globally.
4. Hope Sews goes beyond giving credits.
Cultural fashion can easily go from being inclusive to being problematic if not done correctly. Cross-cultural fashion can never be ethical if, like fast fashion brands, it does not properly acknowledge the roots of its fashion influences. At Hope Sews, we go beyond just giving credits. We partner with ethical manufactures and source our fabrics directly to create our garments. In addition, we support women entrepreneurs, specifically seamstresses, by providing them training and assistance in obtaining micro finance loans to boost their businesses and pursue their dreams.
A group of seamstresses in Ghana that Hope Sews has been supporting, originally fundraising for sewing machines and n