A collaboration of beauty and ethics
FOR SPRING SUMMER 16, WE HAVE COLLABORATED WITH JIGSAW TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL, SPIRITED AND METICULOUSLY CRAFTED BAGS. HERE, WE TELL YOU ABOUT OUR JOURNEY!
Back in November last year, we received an email from the designers at Jigsaw asking us if we would be interested in doing a summer bag collaboration with them.
Both Holly and I have grown up with Jigsaw on our high streets. A timeless, elegant brand that we both hugely admire, and which never ceases to deliver with each season. I even did an exciting and fruitful internship there during my fashion degree. As a small start up brand, and having already put on hold a number of really exciting opportunities due to our production not quite being 'ready', we knew that this was the moment to really push ourselves….
And so it began…. over the next few months, we threw ourselves head first in to making ‘The Basket Room x Jigsaw’ a reality!
The clever team at Jigsaw knew exactly what their customer wanted, and it was not long before, under our guidance, their team had decided on the patterns, colours, styles and trims for the tote and clutch bags we were to sample.
We chose to work with a group of around 100 skilled weavers for the collaboration. Like other weavers in Kenya, they weave using locally sourced sisal material and traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations from Grandmother to Granddaughter. They mostly live as farming communities, who rely heavily on the production of their crops as a source of income, but during times of drought they can struggle to produce the harvest they need to survive. Weaving provides an alternative income for them and their families, not only bringing women important empowerment, but bringing money to pay for school fees and food. It is this age-old tradition that The Basket Room is helping to protect, whilst also supporting the women in this vital, income generating craft form.
After a few rounds of sampling, production was ready to start! The group members each chose how many baskets they would weave, whilst being conscious of the deadline and working as a team to complete the order. The duration for weaving a basket really varies from weaver to weaver, dependent on how fast they work and how much money they wish to earn! On average, it can take approximately 1 week to complete a tote bag, and 3 days on a clutch, but timing varies given this is not full time work. Weaving is generally done around household chores and farming crops, and most weavers carry their baskets around with them, weaving as they walk to the river to draw water, or to the shops or to Church!
Once the basket weaving was complete, it was time for the leather work. We teamed up with a leading Kenyan leather workshop, whose aim is to promote locally available materials, and to cultivate leatherwork skills in Kenya. We were happy that we would be able to produce a completely Kenyan made product!
After over four and a half months of dedicated work, we are proud to present 4 beautiful, contemporary styles for SS16, explained by Jigsaw’s accessories designer, Hannah Harrison below:
"We wanted to keep both the design of the tote and the clutch simple. For the tote, we added leather handles and whipstitch detail to ensure that it’s as hardwearing as possible and for the clutch, we added a contemporary twist to an otherwise vintage design with a leather flap."
The bags are exclusively available at The Basket Room and selected Jigsaw stores in London.