Ecoist is the brainchild of the Marcoschamer brothers, Yair and Jonathan. A holiday discovery turned into an ethical fashion brand, they have effectively acted as the facilitators of different worlds that do not usually engage, forming an unlikely and unexpected collaboration.
Many of us have come across the ingenious use of discarded materials by societies that literally cannot afford to waste when visiting some developing region on holiday. That was the case when the Marcoshamer brothers visited Mexico on holiday with their mother and noticed the clever use of discarded materials by local artisans making a living through the sale of items to visiting tourists. There is perhaps nothing new in this: many of us have encountered the phenomenon or perhaps even come across similar items imported on a small scale by some bijou boutique or ethical charity.
What is different about the Ecoist story is that the Marcoshamer brothers have effectively industrialised the process through clever partnerships with major American producers and manufacturers eager to participate in an ethical and eco-friendly venture. Their growing range of bags – each collection is produced as a limited range, ensuring constant renewal and a large choice- is produced in a fair trade context by artisans in Peru. But, Ecoist places the brand within the right context to gain a mainstream fashion audience, responsive to the expectations of trendy consumers, as is evident in the kind of fashion press and media visibility the brand now attracts. For example, Sex & The City stylist Danny Santiago selected one of the ritzy silver bags to appear on screen, placing it in an enviable position of influence for any brand seeking a mass fashion-conscious audience.
Ecoist’s approach to ‘upcycling’ –the concept of repurposing a material to produce a product of higher quality than the original material – is key. The bag collections include everything from compact evening bags to husky urban handbags able to carry all the essentials of a busy professional woman. Ecoist’s production methods and design ethos need to ensure that the product appeals to its target market, but also that it can stand up to the expectations of a highly-regulated western market and its consumer rights.
Simultaneously, the company balances these demands with its ethical positions on fair trade and ecology that see it engaged in activities such as large-scale tree planting projects in various global regions affected by deforestation.