Shop Talk: T.O.’s Laura Siegel employs craftspeople in rural villages to create her ethical line

With a focus on sustainable business practices and respectful working conditions in remote communities, Laura Siegel’s Toronto-based collection is fashion savvy, eco-friendly and humane. 

What first inspired you to work with international artisans? 
While I was studying at Parsons, I travelled around the world. I saw the same craft I was learning about in school being used and practiced in developing areas. What I loved about this experience was our lack of understanding of each other’s language but what connected us was our love for craft. I wanted to start my own label soon after.

Where are some of the rural villages that you work with?
Peru, Bolivia, India, Kenya, Laos and Vietnam. 

What benefits do the artisans receive?
We partner with co-operatives and NGO groups to ensure that the artisan communities are getting a living wage and the support they need: for example, how to spend their money, how to be financially responsible and how to start a bank account. We provide them with flexibility and the right resources so they can work from home and care for their children. We create comfortable work environments for them that are as non-invasive as possible to their culture and way of living.

Who is the Laura Siegel woman?
She is ageless, conscious and on the go. She wants transparency from the goods she buys and wants relaxed, timelesss, day-to-night pieces.

Where in Toronto do you shop?
All Saints and Narwhal.

What’s in store for the fall/winter 2016 collection?
Using inspiration from the Moroccan culture, the collection features geometrical dye patterns, intricate weave designs with tasselled edges and textured alpaca knits. These details are accented by Japanese-inspired floral prints and metal hand-beaded embroidery work.

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