Completing an outfit with fair trade accessories is no longer the stuff of coarse threads or bland designs. Sustainable garments have come of age and with age comes luxurious threads and inspiring designs that as well as being high fashion, also respect the environment and support indigenous communities and preserve their weaving traditions.
Luxury accessories brand, APOCCAS, have teamed up with master weavers from eleven villages in northern Thailand to create beautiful hand woven scarves, wraps and throws. APOCCAS’s accessories are distinctive – each item incorporates colour, semi-precious gemstones and mantras hand-woven onto organically dyed fabrics – with the intention to enhance general wellbeing to the wearer or owner.
“Embodied within its collections of heirloom scarves and throws, APOCCAS revives three ancient principles: the energy of the stone, the law of attraction to colour and the power of the word – all aimed to promote wellbeing for body, mind and soul,” explains APOCCAS founder, Alexandra Du Sold. “Spirituality is a big word but it doesn’t have to be scary. Everyone understands the concept of being drawn to a colour and we proudly combine all three elements to deliver a trilogy package. You can choose the colour which tickles your fancy the most and we throw in the corresponding word embroidery and crystals subtly appliquéd onto the textile.”
Weaving with mantra
Each APOCCAS product brings its own meaning and energy. The Engio scarf in a beautiful, rich aubergine with pink tells its own story – made from 100% Eri silk, the soft scarf is decorated with inconspicuous amethyst crystals and embroidered with the word ‘Wisdom’. The combination of amethyst – a highly protective and spiritual stone – and the colour purple invokes a strong sense of wisdom and inner peace.
The rich crafts-making traditions of ancient Siam is clearly at the heart of APOCCAS, which means ‘Ancient Power on Cotton, Cashmere and Silk’. It is the premise through which Du Sold turned supporting rural artisan communities into a viable business. A life-changing sabbatical in 2009 from London’s Hedge-Fund market saw Du Sold heading to Bali where she renewed her passion for “high-end natural textiles”. Shortly afterwards she was en route to Thailand with her philanthropic venture.
“I fell in love with the master weavers of Ancient Siam because of their passion,” says Du Sold. “Although weaving has been practised for 1000s of years, Thai weaving is exceptional – executed to an unparalleled level of craftsmanship following traditions that have been passed down for generations. Thailand is also famed for its silk and cotton weaving which is what drew APOCCAS to this area. In short we wanted to offer a platform for the indigenous communities to showcase these otherwise unseen talents to the modern world.”
All of the brand’s creations are hand-loomed ethically using locally farmed silk and hand-spun cotton yarns, and more recently, bamboo threads. All dyes are botanical in nature.
APOCCAS works with artisan weavers to ensure that their skills are preserved, and by implementing fair trade practices they are able to support their families and community.
“We don’t just make a better scarf – we make scarves better,” Du Sold states. “For the discerning consumer, luxury cannot be fashioned at the expense of human dignity; instead it should be a beacon for compassion and sustainability. Our creations embody this philosophy.”
Today, traditional weaving in Thailand remains largely the same, but the country’s artisanal weaving culture is at risk of becoming extinct. But APOCCAS is setting out to revive these ancient weaving traditions which have been passed down through generations. “Our mission is to create awareness to gauge interest for younger generations, helping to keep these extraordinary weaving skills alive,” Du Sold says. “Through APOCCAS we hope to revive all associated industries (cotton & silk farming, botanical dyeing) in Thailand, thus providing more and regular work for the rural workers.”
“In short, we [APOCCAS] are missionaries of trade, not aid – we live by helping others to help themselves,” Du Sold says of her philanthropic efforts. “APOCCAS weavers are not employed, they are independent and we intend to keep it that way. We believe in empowering rural communities, striving for economic independence for all by working directly with organic silk farmers and cotton growers, expert spinners, traditional dyers and artisan weavers in rural Thailand.”
In addition to the master weavers, Apoccas works with silk farmers, cotton growers, expert spinners and traditional dyers within the rural communities of Thailand. “Fair trade is a key element of our philosophy so we go direct,” Du Sold explains. “All products are born and manufactured within the community; this ensures quality from start to finish with the end result being an exceptional piece of craftsmanship. Even the packaging is produced locally.”
Last year, Apoccas launched a successful campaign to raise funds for its new season collection of scarves by ‘pre-selling’ its pieces. The campaign on IndieGoGo raised £12,354 of its £9,000 goal in October 2013.
The brand’s overall success owes in part to its founder’s own mantra, “freedom”. “Facilitating freedom for others and living it every single day: that is what makes me feel alive, what makes life worth living,” Du Sold says.
It is that sense of freedom that will see APOCCAS venture into new territories, with the possibility of working with a new luxury thread, location and other indigenous communities. “Adding the ‘C’ for cashmere to complete our APOCCAS acronym – Ancient Power on Cashmere, Cotton And Silk – is currently our priority,” Du Sold states. “And we think it may lead us straight into the remote areas of Inner Mongolia and matron-run village communities of rural Nepal.”
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a journalist who writes about sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com