What comes to mind when you think of ethical fashion? Probably organic cotton and rightly paid workers. Well commonly yes, now let's expand on that a bit further to other aspects of humanity, like employing refugees. In the current heightened of fashion consciousness, comes a clothing brand who through fashion is providing jobs that pay above the minimum wage, empower and bring hope for refugee women artisans from all backgrounds; meet Blue Meets Blue based in Chicago, Illinois. In recent times consumers have been driving the demand towards ethical fashion, but so can makers. This is the story of Blue Meets Blue.
The brand's name means the blue of the ocean meeting the blue of the sky. It's a reference to what refugees see when making their journey away from what was once home, many times by boat. It's a visual reminder of a journey to freedom and empowerment despite the challenges that may lay ahead. Creating a clothing brand and employing refugee women was just an idea to Shahd Asaly, founder and creative designer, when she was pursuing her Masters in International Psychology. Her focus was on: Crisis Care Work with Refugees Recently Settling Into Their Host Country. She tells us that back in (2012), there were about 13 million displaced people, and now in (2017), we have about 65 million displaced people around the world. She's also of Syrian heritage and the current crisis really hit home for her.
Shahd felt that with all the crises going on in the world, it seemed very pointless to start a venture that did not have a humanitarian cause. She was also very disappointed in the industry of fast fashion, the waste of textile, and the growing unappreciation of couture. She believes it is very important for consumers to have a connection with their clothing, know where it comes from, and appreciate it. Shahd combined her background in Psychology and Design along with her initiative to aid the refugee crisis and created Blue Meets Blue. Joining her is also good friend Randa Kuziez, strategy consultant, who has previously worked with refugees in St. Louis for 10 years and who has a Masters in International Affairs. Her hopes with this venture is to cater to people who are interested in slow fashion, passionate about the refugee cause, and of course for people who are very fashion forward and appreciate the quality of custom and 'slow-fashion' pieces.
The limited quantity pieces are made by refugee women artisans only. This is done purposely. Shahd explains that the reason behind hiring only women is because of their vital role in society. Oftentimes, they are the main breadwinners in their families, homemakers, and/or take influence in the clothing. The concept of having limited quantity pieces gives their customers a feeling of uniqueness. But, it doesn't end there! They enjoy making custom designs and sketches sent to them by customers a reality, one which includes recently a wedding gown for the first time.
In the future, they hope to open a physical location so they can employ many more refugee women artisans, be both a source of employment as well as a place of empowerment. They envision holding workshops for the refugee women to lead and teach other women the skill of their craft. Blue Meets Blue wants it to be a place of gathering and community. But most of all, they hope through their fashion to be able to change the misconception about refugees and spread love. Shop and support at www.bluemeetsblue.com
Written by Mariana Aguilera