HOPE’s vision is all about fairness, the redefinition of local luxury, honoring local identity and channeling a way of consciousness that is motivated by authentic sustainable models.
Style is better understood through context. The term luxury can often evoke the grand tradition of European know-how, old-world craftsmanship and the fabulousness of conspicuous consumption and fashionable display. And yet, in Colombia and Latin America, luxury, seen in context, can lead to a redefinition of the term, grounding it to a local sense of meaning and aesthetics. In such a context, luxury can become a fresh term with peculiar definitions. It becomes a way of exploring local identity - one that connects to ancestral knowledge, the uniqueness of pieces that take time, that are hand-made and that provides another sort of luxury: one that escapes the homogeneity of a mass-produced, serial market. It becomes a term that also connects to a creative and commercial process that honors a hybrid identity, where indigenous communities are at the heart of the culture’s very foundation. In this context, luxury is the beauty of singular, hand-made pieces that respect tradition and the endorsement of sustainable models based on fair trade. In a world that often debates cultural appropriation and ethical aspects of fashion, HOPE redefines luxury and sustainability within a symmetrical process that caters to reciprocal gain.
It’s also true that the word sustainability has become itself quite the fashionable term. As it seems to be trending, it must also be noted that it connects to a myriad of possibilities and significations. It can refer to manufacturing processes, to technological developments, to the reduction of waste, to consumption choices, to decisions based on mindfulness when it comes to individual lifestyle. Even fast-fashion brands have begun to seduce their clientele through questionable models that seek to endorse it. Fashion weeks are being canceled in order for certain industries to prioritize its development. The ubiquity of the term also reflects a wider cultural trend: as fashion has unprecedentedly gained visibility in the digital age, as it has spread through a speedy process of democratization and decentralization it has also become one of the most defining phenomena in contemporary visual and popular culture. This ubiquity has also brought forth an unprecedented connection to its ethical implications. The fashion industry is being asked questions it has never been asked before. It is being interrogated as a vehicle of social awareness. It is no longer acceptable for it to perpetuate imaginaries that exclude diversity. It has become a platform to create social impact and models that strive for equality.
Sustainability is also enlivened by the context in which it spurs. And this is where HOPE MADE comes in. As it is a conscious attempt to bring together all these variables into a business model, HOPE MADE currently works with 16 indigenous Colombian communities (in a country that sums 102 of them.) It engages in fair trade through creative processes that seek to provide sustainable sources of income for more than 1600 artisans. As they seek to honor their ancestral tradition, these communities produce and create a high sense of environmental awareness. As a concept that is gaining global momentum, fair trade seeks to avoid any sort of exploitation or cultural appropriation, a topic that still stirs current controversies and which is being sought to be ethically replaced by more symmetrical business models. HOPE MADE cares about working with 100% natural and sustainable raw materials. It also materializes a sustainable business model, as it is a family-owned business from Colombia that has positioned itself as a cultural and commercial platform that promotes Colombian craftsmanship and artisanal work on a global scale. It is caring, a conscious vision that seeks to cater to a consumer that values the substance of style.
HOPE MADE also strives to express the exuberant richness that characterizes the Colombian context. It shows the singular beauty that can be acquired through a hand-made, unique mochila bag – an iconic indigenous bag. A piece that not only represents the luxury of hand-made pieces, but also the symbolic uniqueness that it carries as it expands on an ancestral line of manual work. As a platform, HOPE MADE works with communities such as the Eperaara Sipadaara, from Cauca; The Koreguaje from Caquetá; the Arhuacos from the Sierra Nevada in Santa Marta, the Kamentza from Putumayo, the Pastos from Nariño, the Wayuu from the Guajira, the Zenú from San Antonio de Palmito, in Córdoba. It also co-creates with independent weavers and artisans from San Jacinto, Bolívar; San Agustín, Huila; Bogotá; Ruche, Boyacá, Sandoná, Nariño; Río Quito, Chocó. These wide and rich arrays of names are a clear reflection of Colombia’s dazzling human, natural and geographical diversity. Each community expands and enlivens an ancestral knowledge through the objects they create.
Within the Colombian context, it must also be noted that aesthetics and style have both been vehicles in a collective process of renewed imaginaries that are able to reinvent long-withheld stereotypes related to drug trafficking, terrorism, and war. To wear authentic Colombian-made pieces that can channel a local identity has also been a source of cultural reinvention. A lot of these communities have been marginalized because of the historic violence, forced to remove themselves from their native geographies because of the guerrillas, for example. This is why creating sustainable sources of income for them is also a means of strengthening their own sense of resilience and bravery. By contributing to these sustainable, fair and conscious models, HOPE MADE is a hopeful endeavor – one that expects to connect with individuals who see in stylish objects a way of carrying symbolism, a better world, social structures that strive for equality. We hope you can join our vision of love for beauty that celebrates diversity and depth.
This article was written by Vanessa Rosales. Published author in Colombia.