by Macaela MacKenzie
“Ethical fashion” and “fast fashion” have become antithetical in the $2.5 trillion fashion industry. The latter seemingly has two identities; on one side of the debate, it’s an economic wunderkind, easily outpacing sales growth from traditional fashion brands. At the same time, it’s become the poster child for unethical and unsustainable manufacturing practices. Soko, an artisan-made jewelry brand, is out to bridge the gap.
“We want to create an ethical fashion landscape where shoppers can buy ethically by default,” says Gwen Floyd, co-founder of Soko. “We don’t need to make choices between our wallets and our values.”
It’s more than just a warm and fuzzy idea: Soko’s stackable rings and statement earrings, made from materials including reclaimed brass and locally-sourced cattle horns, are handcrafted by over 2,000 artisans in Kenya before they end up at chic retailers including Nordstrom, Reformation and Goop.
With a background in design and technology solutions for emerging economies, Floyd didn’t exactly start out with dreams of disrupting the fashion industry by making ethical accessories from Africa. Instead, Soko started from an idea for building peace in the Middle East.