By Jenni Avins: In today’s fashion industry, a social mission is a highly effective branding tool. Eyewear company Warby Parker, which contributes a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair it sells, sold half a million pairs of glasses in 12 months. In August, Bain Capital bought half of the Toms shoe company, which also works with a sell-one-donate-one model, in a deal that valued the manufacturer of cotton slip-ons at $625 million. For brands at the higher end of the market, selling socially conscious ideals is a more complicated challenge. The luxury realm of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and Hermés favors the idea of heritage—and specifically of the European persuasion, at that. Self-righteous startups need not apply.
But three years ago, a new luxury label called Maiyet quietly appeared, with sophisticated, streamlined ready-to-wear; weighty gold statement jewelry; and bohemian leather sandals. As fashion was turning to minimalism, Maiyet looked just right, and the brand—with a mission that had as much to do with social good as it did with aesthetics—was welcomed into the fold.
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