Its almost winter and everyone I know is ready to spend on getting their winter look right. A lot of you are looking for accessories and what better than getting some that are pretty exclusive and have some Christmas cheer included. Unlike most of the mass-market stuff out there, Ricefield Collective’s just launched knitwear accessories are very special, read on to learn why.
Ricefield Collective’s beautiful scarves and amazing beanies are all hand-knitted by indigenous folk from the rural and exotic Ifugao region in the Philippines, and made from some of the softest American wool that comes directly from Quince & Co. of Portland, Maine. To add to this amazing story, two of the world’s top knitwear designers contributed designs for this collection.
The Ifugao region is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the people of that region have been farming rice terraces for centuries and these skilled hands which were used to doing manual work are now doing wonders in producing high quality knits. The western (UK & US) designers who designed the entire collection created patterns that are impossible to replicate using machines which means that these scarves and beanies will forever be unique, handmade and special.
Its funny how while I’m sitting down with my coffee and writing this I already have another tab open trying to buy a Ricefield Collective scarf before they run out. While a lot of you might want to buy a scarf or a beanie just for the fact that its high quality handmade and unique, I want to highlight the deeper and more meaningful story behind Ricefield Collective and their products.
For centuries the farmers of the Ifugao terraces farmed rice on their beautiful ancestral land, they created their own prosperous self sufficient community with just rice, hardwork and skilled hands. However over the years their income solely from farming the rice terraces was not enough to sustain their community which caused a lot of their youth to go looking for better paying jobs in cities and far off places. The region and its people were slowly at risk of loosing their identity, way of life and community this is when Ricefield Collective stepped in to help bring jobs and supplemental income through knitting.
Ricefield Collective first caught my eye when they listed their project on Kickstarter. I was instantly drawn to the beautiful design and colors of the hats, cowls and sets that they were giving away as rewards to the backers. They were then raising money to get their winter collection off the ground and were super successful at their fundraising. Their earnest appeal and great product offering attracted thousands of backers and within just 10 days they surpassed their initial goal and ended up raising thrice the amount they wanted, almost close to a $100k.
I recently connected with Meredith, the Founder of the project who is herself half Filipino, an avid knitter and a literary scholar at Cornell University. She told me about how she learned of the issues faced by the indigenous people while she was down there doing her research on poetry traditions of the region. People were abandoning their land and there were no jobs in the area for them to supplement their income with. She was interested in helping them and so she started teaching the women knitting and called in for help from her knitting community. She was fortunate to get on board two of world’s top knitwear designers, Anna Maltz and Stephen West who spent several weeks in the Philippines with the local people to design the collection.
While I’m very inspired by Meredith and the work of Ricefield Collective I want us to think about why we buy certain things over others – quality and design usually has something to do with it. Dutiee has always been about putting great products ahead of the cause and that applies here too. Ricefield Collective has fantastic products that I would love to gift to my friends and family and the story and people behind them make it just that much more magical.
You can shop their winter collection on their website at http://ricefield.co/[vimeo http://vimeo.com/77375612]