“We founded Voz in order to rehumanize our connection to our clothes and the people who make our clothes. To bring that intimacy and human connection back,” explained company founder Jasmine Aarons in an interview with Vogue’s Eviana Hartman. And while sadly, this human element of fashion production is often absent from the wider sustainability debate, it was a key focus of last week’s Omina Summit, where the panel discussion on ‘Social Innovation’, in which Aarons participated, was one of the standout sessions of our three days in Costa Rica.
Aarons founded US-based Voz (“voice”) in 2012 after witnessing firsthand the unique talent of Chile’s indigenous weavers. Through a post-graduate fellowship with Stanford’s HAAS Center for Public Service she spent time in southern Chile as an educator and design innovator, where, she told NBC News, “I fell in love with the community, and I pledged to help them.” And true to her word, Aarons created a fashion business model that uses design innovation to lift local artisans out of poverty, allowing them to create with dignity while earning a fair, sustainable income.
In addition to providing financial security and economic opportunity, working with Voz is benefiting the weavers in many other ways, including empowering them creatively and fostering a sense of community. And a marked increase in self-esteem is also seeing many of the women take up leadership roles. The collaboration is also preserving and supporting centuries-old traditions by giving them a new outlet for expression.
Combining fashion-forward designs with strong ethical influences, Voz’s garments are crafted from merino wool, alpaca hair and natural vegetable fibers such as cotton and hemp, which are sourced from trusted farms in Peru. The company is committed to environmentally-friendly practices, and every part of the weaving process, from the natural wool to the local plant dyes, comes from replenishable resources, high standards that are applied to all the materials used which are selected with minimal impact firmly in mind.
To date, much of Voz’s work has centered around the Mapuche weavers of Southern Chile, the country’s dominant indigenous people, protecting their livelihoods, well-being, and cultural values. However, the company’s goal is to expand this same model to create opportunities for indigenous artisan communities around the world, especially across Latin America.
Here are several looks from Voz for SS18, a collection that features the Mapuche symbol, the copihue, on some of its designs, a flower that symbolizes familial and tribal union...