Indigenous’ mission is: “to elevate artisans in the poorest regions of South America to world renowned status in the handicraft textile market while preserving the rich cultural heritage. We actively work with over a dozen fair trade field organizing teams and quality control centers that coordinate over 300 knitting and hand-looming artisan work groups.”
While it may sound lofty, Indigenous puts their money where their mouth is. They pay truly fair wages for masterful work and it’s evident in their designs and their clothing. Just take a look at the stunning detail on the Chic Pullover shown top, left. They are a featured partner of Fair Trade USA and their entire brand – every single product – is certified fair trade.
The reason we love Indigenous is that their entire business model is focused on fair trade and respect for people and the planet. While many companies embrace fair trade ideals after they’ve been in business for a while and seen some of the negative effects of the fashion industry (or even as a marketing scheme – but hey, it’s still good), Indigenous’ founders Scott Leonard and Matt Reynolds started the brand explicitly with the well being of people and the planet at the forefront.
Here’s a great video from two of their partners and social engineers in Peru.
Indigenous products are a little more expensive than some of the other brands we carry, but we think they’re well worth it. They spend a much higher percent of their production cost on raw materials and labor, meaning you end up with an eco-friendly product made by someone who was equitably paid for their work and whose quality of living is actually improved by your purchase. Many of the designs, like this customer favorite Sheer Drape Tee, are also very versatile, making it easy to buy fewer, higher quality pieces.
As a bonus, Indigenous only uses azo-free, low-impact dyes without harsh chemicals and have no elastic in any of their products. Everything they make is also Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. Impressive.