Maiyet is a relatively new luxury label with a difference. Namely, it infuses its products with a “soul”. In short, the label is committed to its suppliers, reinforcing educational programmes or investing in better machinery to improve production techniques.
The people behind Maiyet include a human rights lawyer, a social entrepreneur and a marketing consultant with an interest in fair trading. The latter is Kristy Caylor, who was previously head of merchandising for Gap’s Product (RED) initiative. Together with South African lawyer Paul van Zyl, she spent 6 months in 25 cities across 5 continents, sourcing the right crafts people to realise their dream of supporting developing economies.
To date, their reach has included carved-block printers in Jaipur, wax-cast jewellers from Medellin, hand-woven cashmere producers in Kashmir, Javanese batik printers and bone carvers from Nairobi. Despite this only being Maiyet’s third full season, the returns to each community are having an impact.
“Usually, these projects have a philanthropic aspect or a marketing one,” says Caylor. “It’s often one over the other. We work with a group of ladies in Varanasi, the Ganges, who produce a beautiful material – a traditional silk jacquard weaving technique specific to the region. For the first season, we ordered 50 metres of the fabric. This season, we upped that to 1,000 metres.”
The fashion industry has accommodated socially oriented incentives in the past, but often without any genuine involvement beyond providing a temporary platform. Maiyet’s stance is clearly different, though, its name (the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth and harmony) setting the appropriate tone. “It’s a spirit that embodies all we do,” says Caylor, aware that her company has the potential to rival the established European houses. “We want to pioneer the next generation of global craftmanship with authenticity, combining the rare and unexpected and integrating that into fresh new products.”