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HandCrafting Justice Debuting New Collections of Casual & Whimsical Summer Handbags in NYC

Expanding into new styles for a younger and broader appeal, HandCrafting Justice is debuting two new ethical fashion handbag collections – Made for Change and Made for Change KIDS – which are part of the organization’s “Conscious Fashion for the Fashion Conscious” campaign.

Photo courtesy of HandCrafting Justice.

These new summer collections will debut at the 2013 New York International Gift Fair, which will run from Jan. 26-30, 2013.

“Most of what we’re going for is a fun spring and beach collection. The bags are big, and great for casual everyday shopping. They’re also great as weekend bags for short vacations,” said Katherine Leonetti, marketing manager at HandCrafting Justice.

The collections – which will include shoulder bags, duffel bags, totes, and kids’ animal-shaped backpacks – are being made as a collaboration with artisan partners in Thailand.

HandCrafting Justice works with over 3,000 women in over 20 countries around the world, working with Fair Trade initiatives to make sure that they work in clean, safe environments, and are paid fair wages.

These bags are being made by the women of the Isan Weaving Group from the Nong Kahi province of Thailand. The Isan region is located on the Khorat Plateau, bordering the Mekong River. The Isan region is one of the poorest places in Thailand.

In 1983, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd established the Isan Weaving Group to give women in the area the opportunity to globally market their traditional skills of weaving cloth, creating intricate designs native to the region, and using natural dyes.

Leonetti talked a little about the styles in the new collections saying, “Most of the prints are going to be stripped. It’s going to be a very lively spring theme, with some pastels mixed with oranges and blues, sort of beachy.

“Another thing we tried to do was play between neutrals and bright colors. There are some bags that will be neutral on the outside and have a very vibrant color on the inside. All of the fabrics are 100 percent hand-woven cotton.”

Photo courtesy of HandCrafting Justice.

Talking about some of the design features in the collections, Loenetti said, some of the women’s handbags would include elements such as rope handles and crisscross stitching, and the children’s pieces have a really detailed collection of different animal characters.

“They are all sort of whimsical animals, like butterflies, monkeys, and elephants. Some of our children’s bags look like little stuffed animals, and have a lot of personality to them. A lot of the animals are inspired by the native species of Thailand,” she said.

A lot of these handbags will be featured at the New York International Gift Fair, but they aren’t expected to be on the market until mid-April 2013, through the HandCrafting Justice website and other outlets.

HandCrafting Justice is a non-profit project of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd that markets over 1,000 different items through its website, wholesalers, and special events. Beyond handbags, other items sold include: clothing, jewelry, accessories, pottery, indigenous art, and toys.

The Good Shepherd Sisters have established skills and employment training projects around the world to help people, especially women, escape poverty. They work through an international network, including HandCrafting Justice in the U.S., Sharing Fair in the UK and Canada, and the Good Shepherd Trading Circle in Australia and New Zealand.

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