Fashion can be fun and frivolous, but also can be a great vehicle to raise awareness, which was exactly the case last Wednesday night as Stepping Stones Collections held a special event showcasing the latest pieces from Eastern Weft and Article 22 PeaceBOMB jewellery. Hosted by Stepping Stones founder, Sarah Stone, each of the brands showcased create beautiful artisan pieces, and work towards bettering communities, specifically in Laos, and make a difference in the lives of the artists creating them.
Eastern Weft, founded by Samorn Sanixay and Kaisy Sopabmixay, is a weaving house in Vientiane, Laos, who create incredibly intricate, beautiful textiles and leather goods, and work to provide their group of artisans a fair wage. Looking at the pieces, they stand as a celebration of Lao culture and traditional craftwork.
Speaking with Samorn at the event, she graciously demonstrated how the collective uses naturally-sourced products, like leeks , seeds, and berries, to dye the woven silk fabric resulting in one of a kind patterns, and talked through the process in creating their textiles, which can take up to 46 days to complete, like the magnificent obi on display.
One of the major highlights of the displayed pieces was the Makoto origami clutch, created with the softest sheepskin leather and a peek-a-boo detail of woven fabric in the top flap. Samorn explained the process in sourcing the leather, choosing kangaroo, ostrich, and sheepskin sourced in Australia making use of our plentiful resources, rather than outsourcing from overseas.
Also on display at the event were PeaceBOMB jewellery created by Article 22. Crafted from unexploded ordnance and developed in collaboration with local Laos spoonmakers, each PeaceBOMB jewellery purchase helps support the artisans and the clearance of unexploded ordnance from their land remaining from the Vietnam war. The bracelets, wraps, and necklaces are all impeccably finished, and stamped regionally, with the bracelets on sale at the event pressed with ‘Melbourne loves Peace’.
Article 22 also created a film to raise awareness about the bombs that have plagued the region, and highlighting the efforts to clear the undetonated bombs. A excerpt of it was played with additional commentary from Sarah and Samorn, who gave inspirational speeches celebrating the skills and talents of the artisans and the difference that can be made with the proceeds from sales.
Both the Eastern Welk and and PeaceBOMB ranges are available for purchase in store, and online. Stepping Stones Collections is located at 19A Ormond Road, Elwood, and is open Tuesday-Saturday.
Images courtesy of Stepping Stones Collections