Look Good, Do Good: Symbology Makes Fair Trade Sexy
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Jan 16 2015

Look Good, Do Good: Symbology Makes Fair Trade Sexy

Look Good, Do Good is a new monthly feature on Poplar Travels that highlights designers and retailers making the world a better place through their products. As travelers, we want to give back to the world we love exploring so much. Suggest an innovative sustainable or philanthropic partner at  Make the world a better place and look good while doing it!

Everyone always wants to know where I got my pretty wrap dress with the bright pink lining and the pretty peacock print. The hand printed fabric and flattering design make that dress stand out in any crowd and I am always proud to tell friends I got it from Symbology.

Symbology is inspired by the traditional techniques of weaving, dyeing and embroidering cloth used in India. Founder Marissa Heyl was inspired by the crafts she witnessed while working on her anthropology thesis in India. During visits to remote villages, she researched the impact of fair trade on women in the community and saw the positive changes in their lives. She has since worked with these artisans to create beautiful, modern clothing for women using their unique art. Her involvement with these communities helps to preserve a traditional art form and provides a source of income for the women who weave and print the cloth.

My favorite pieces are the block printed ones. Each pattern is made using a hand-carved wooden block which Marissa designs herself with the help of the talented artists in Bagru, Rajasthan who make them. Huge bolts of cloth are stamped by hand using these blocks to create the intricate designs and bold patterns seen on the finished clothing. Symbology’s other artisan partners specialize in hand embroidery and applique. You can see a video of their techniques on Symbology’s website.

I’ve known Marissa for a few years and even worked with her to help promote Symbology’s original collection. It was an inspiration to work with her brand and to watch it become so successful. Marissa has combined her lifelong passion for women’s rights and her love for fashion to connect women through clothing worldwide.

Research shows the importance of investing in women and that those investments have widespread benefits. Women are more likely to put the money they earn back into the community, to fund their children’s education, to help build schools and to purchase necessary items for their families, improving the over economic situation of the community. Working to ensure fair trade and bring their beautiful fabrics to a global marketplace empowers these women to make such changes.

Shop Symbology clothing, accessories and loungewear online or see where you can find it in stores.

Each purchase from Symbology is a unique piece of traditional art from India. You can wear your beautiful designs with pride knowing your purchase helped employ poor women and also helps to preserve a traditional art form.

Photos: Courtesy Symbology



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Evanne Allen

Evanne co-founded Poplar Travels after quitting her job in Washington, D.C. She got itchy feet at a young age and has never lost the urge to explore the planet. A previous museum employee, she is apt to drag travel partners into several cultural institutions anywhere she goes. She wishes she could speak every language and loves meeting new people.

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  • Thank you so much for featuring this company! I love finding new places to by clothes, particularly ones that are fair trade. Thanks for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust!

    February 1, 2015 at 1:49 am

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