May 24, 2022
by James Roberts
MR PORTER’s Small World Edit Is a Trove of Global Treasures
by James Roberts
May 24, 2022

One way to design more eco-friendly products and brands is to develop new eco-friendly materials and processes. As these innovations receive more and more investment, we’re seeing the likes of Nike, adidas and Levi’s implement them at scale. Scale is good because it allows for accessibility and affordability.

Another way to design is to go in the opposite direction and go smaller. MR PORTER’s Small World edit is a celebration of this approach. Last year we reported on the first installment of this initiative. This year, the online retailer continues to search the world for the highest quality artisans and brands that adhere to its Craftsmanship Code – a set of qualities which demonstrate that the brands it stocks are designing with the planet in mind.

As MR PORTER states on its website, “Small World is a capsule collection that champions artisans from around the world who approach their designs with care and purpose, honor traditional techniques or invest in clever innovations, and put their communities, their environment and their responsibility towards both first.”

As with last year’s edit, the Small World collection is full of unique, handmade pieces. Clothing, accessories, shoes, jewelry and homeware can be found in this global treasure trove. These are not everyday items, but pieces to be cherished for years to come.

Peering into this collection, you’ll find several designers that use repurposed fabrics as their materials. New Delhi-based Karu Research has produced pieces exclusively for MR PORTER made with silk jacquards and soft cottons. Indian kantha quilts, sourced from a bazaar in Jaipur, are turned into wide-leg shorts. Hand-embroidered and hand-printed shirts made with local artisans feature heavily which give the pieces a healthy mix of playful and formal.

clothsurgeon is a brand upcycler. The Savile Row-based designer uses its tailor expertise to repurpose deadstock fabric from high-end brands like Raf Simons and Kvadrat, turning them into brightly colored shorts, jackets and shoes.

King Kennedy Rugs has – you guessed it – found new life in antique rugs. Consciously sourced from across the world, the rugs are transformed into uniquely patterned jackets, mules and accessories such as bags. Some of the rug prints are digitized for use on limited-edition pieces as well.

Elsewhere, brands like Adish are telling stories and creating change through the items they produce. The Israeli-Palestinian-owned streetwear brand employs traditional Palestinian craft techniques. Founded by two Israeli natives, “the collection is an effort to bridge the rather large gap between Israel and Palestine, to change the conversation by changing the working relationship and to shine a light on the humanitarian situation in Palestine.” The smart collection of shirts and sweats features Palestinian details in the embroidery and weave techniques.

The Small World edit is focused on the forthcoming warm weather, and so short sleeve shirts, shorts and light pants feature heavily. New York-based Stòffa believes in the concept of “relaxed elegance” with its collection of classic tailored pieces suited for the sun. It produces in small quantities that focus on quality instead of excess.

On the other side of the globe in Japan, COTTLE creates clothes made to last. For this collection, it has produced Yak-blend fleeces and indigo-dyed denim pieces with traditional midare-kasuri patterns.

The bottom line is these pieces don’t come cheap. The price points reflect the work, craft and heritage that’s weaved into every item. Small quantities don’t often allow for affordability. But in that trade-off, you instead get pieces that will last, that champion local traditions and that ultimately will look after our planet a little better.

Browse the Small World collection on the MR PORTER website.