Pikolinos Maasai Project: Hand Embroidered Leather Goods
Many eco-friendly companies don’t have brick-and-mortar stores. But especially when it comes to fashion I really like to try things on instead of shopping online. That’s why I love pop-up stores that are temporary retail spaces. Usually they are more engaging and creative than traditional stores with a great opportunity for a brand to tell its story. This is always interesting when it comes to sustainable companies.
Spain-based Pikolinos currently has a pop-up store in the meatpacking district of New York City until July 7th. As soon as you enter the space, you get a sense of the company’s Maasai Project through embroidered sandals with colorful beads. The Maasai Project gives more than 1,600 Maasai women the opportunity to use their traditional craftsmanship by embroidering leather sent from Spain. Once the leather pieces have been decorated, they go back to Pikolinos where they are used as design elements for shoes and bags as part of the Maasai Collection.
Displays throughout the store demonstrate the before and after of the hand embroidered leather components. All profits from the sales go to development projects in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The project was developed together with the NGO ADCAM (Association for Development, Alternative Trade and Microcredit) and the Juan Peran Pikolinos Foundation. It provides a stable source of income to Maasai families through fair wages.
Within the pop-up store are wall projections that provide more insights about Pikolinos’ shoe making process like the use of water-based dyes and solvent-free glues to reduce environmental impact. Downstairs are video installations that give more background about the Maasai Project, which is in its fourth year. I hope Pikolinos will continue the collaboration for many years to come. One idea could be to provide the Maasai women with additional opportunities by including their designs into other leather goods such as bracelets, wallets, or belts. I’m sure they would look amazing.
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