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We shine a spotlight on stories of positivity and collaboration to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021. Discover the female-helmed labels that are changing the way we dress and celebrating the finest in craftsmanship.


Friends Catalina Alvarez and Mariana Hinestroza founded Agua by Agua Bendita in 2003 while they were studying fashion design in Medellin, Colombia, after Catalina discovered a box of discarded sample fabrics in her father’s clothing factory and knew she could transform them into something beautiful. Today, the label creates ready-to-wear and swimwear pieces that express the vibrant culture of South America through traditional design and craftsmanship, employing a team of local female artisans who hand embroider garments using time-honoured techniques passed down through generations. Expect feminine silhouettes in bold prints paying homage to the country’s natural landscapes.


Founded in 2017 to celebrate South American craftsmanship, Rebecca Kramer’s label AESSAI is a phonetic play on the word ‘essay’, drawing on the story-telling parallels between lengthy prose and the knitted composition of a blanket. The Argentinian designer works closely with local communities using traditional techniques and materials to imbue each design with the nostalgia of home and childhood memories. Expect shawls, sweaters and ponchos made from weighty blends of merino wool, alpaca and the native Chaguar plant, rendered in rich earthy hues.


Amber Symond explores elevated craftmanship through a contemporary lens with her loungewear the collective COMMON HOURS, founded in 2019. Inspired by the storied ritual of relaxation, her collection of fluid robes – designed in limited runs of 10 to 50 items – are crafted from French and Italian silk and sustainable organic cotton to a fully reversible profile with complete transparency on provenance and artistic collaboration. Each piece is shaped with shawl lapels, high slits and classic box sleeves, then finished with elegant, abstract accents in unlikely places.


Founded in 2016 by Juliette Harkness and Emma Nelson, Deiji Studios began with pared-back natural bedding and has branched out to create effortless loungewear that is so versatile it can be worn outside the home. Inspired by linen passed down through generations, the label works with two family-run factories which wash the fabric with natural pumice stones for extra softness, then colour it with environmentally friendly azo-free dyes. Designed in Byron Bay, Australia, each piece is hypoallergenic, breathable and biodegradable, rooted in the simplicity and peaceful nature of Japanese design and culture.


Mother-daughter duo Tania and Ladan Shayan started their fine jewellery label Shay in LA in 2002, which originated from a sketch for a bracelet that the former made while still in high school. They create investment pieces that evoke a glamorous, high-octane aesthetic and are meant to be stacked, layered, mixed and matched. Since its inception, the label has garnered a cult following with signature chain-link designs and gem-encrusted Rolex watches, all of which are crafted in platinum and 18kt gold.


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