ELEGANT DISRUPTION Smart, sexy, and never self-righteous: how one luxury startup does social responsibility right

Quartz
November 3, 2014

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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