Árbol de Viento took home the prize for Most Socially Responsible Handbag. The design team employs indigenous palm weavers to help produce the bags in their native Mexico.
“To win this award is a huge door for an emerging designer,” says designer Marisa Collado. She and her business partner Martha launched the brand in an effort to help these artisans sustain a livelihood while preserving their craft.
“It is also important because Martha and I and many other people who believe in us are materializing a dream: it is possible to succeed in a business while helping others to succeed too,” Marisa says. “Socially responsible fashion is possible.”
Marisa has high praise for Emily Blumenthal, the founder of Handbag 101 and the annual awards, who she calls “kind, warm and so professional.” The prize includes a marketing campaign with Patron Spirits and a place in InStyle’s September issue.
Kempton & Co. also won Best Green Handbag for the brand-new Wiltshire carryall, made with an old flour sack, leather scraps and reclaimed hardware from the Salvation Army. As the winner in this category Kempton & Co. will also appear in the September issue of InStyle, and designer Fiona Kempton will have the opportunity to create a collection for Timberland using cork.
“The chance to design a collaborative collection for Timberland is quite a match for me given my aesthetic of quite rugged hardwearing, country-inspired product with a feminine twist,” Fiona says. “It is just amazing to get acknowledgment from so many industry professionals for my work.”