TORONTO — Holt Renfrew will celebrate craft, culture and global artisans this fall as it launches Uncrate South America and its ethically sourced designer products in H Project shops across Canada.
Following earlier H Project spotlights on India (2104) and Africa (2015), this socially conscious initiative led by Alexandra Weston, Holt Renfrew’s director of brand and creative strategy, brings together 23 brands for Uncrate South America’s Sept. 6 launch, including Ulla Johnson, Smythe x Augden, Me to We, Valdez Hats, Jonathan Adler and others.
Together, the array of artisanal, hand-woven alpaca sweaters; festive drop earrings; colorful clutch handbags; earth-tone tasseled pillows and rugs, and decorative porcelain showcases the designs and crafts of South America’s indigenous peoples and geographic regions.
Each designer has used ethically sourced materials or those that support a charitable cause to create the products, which will be exclusive to Holt Renfrew and, for the first time, on holtrenfrew.com beginning Sept. 6.
“H Project exists year round in our Holt Renfrew stores in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. But curation is the key here,” Weston said during a preview of the Uncrate South America collection.
“This is not like going into an airport shop. This is Holt Renfrew, so everything in our H Project shop is curated like a runway show,” said Weston. “Together, these items tell a remarkable story about the artisans who made them. But it all exists in cohesion with the entire Holt Renfrew store.”
H Project’s success, in part, has come from choosing faraway finds that translate well into Canadians’ lives. “When you travel to some fabulously exotic market you’re seduced by everything you see. You want it all. But the big challenge is to choose items that can establish an emotional connection with our customers and make them feel like they can relate to these products in their own home,” said Weston.
Getting the products into H Project shops “isn’t always easy,” Weston added. Indeed, everything from monsoons to washed-out bridges can — and have — impacted deliveries to H Project shops since 2013. Regardless, Weston remains undeterred in her mission to promote global artisanal crafts and to foster a cycle of productivity that helps create more financial independence for poor, uneducated artisans.
“When we first decided to do H Project I was worried, because when you make that decision to be socially responsible you have to be bulletproof. That’s why H Project had to withstand any criticism and produce something good,” said Weston. “If sales aren’t huge they will come. But this is about relationships we want to continue and about making a difference in people’s lives.”