Dubai tops the global poll for loving clutch bags so choose one that doesn’t harm our oceans when you dress up for the festive period. By Rae Ritchie
Hands up who, along with the trusty Little Black Dress, reaches for the embellished clutch bag to add a little festive glamour to their Christmas party outfit?
Well it must be a lot of us because it’s officially the most popular fashion must-have in Dubai right now. Researchers for fashion brand Long Tall Sally and trend analysts discovered those pretty, glittering bags that fit in your hand are the city’s leading fashion trend, while white T-shirts topped the bill in Paris, faux fur coats in New York, oversized sleeves in Shanghai and metallic boots in London.
And it makes sense – humans are programmed to be attracted to all things sparkly which stems from our evolutionary instinct to find shimmering pools of water. If you live in a desert that would be key to survival, wouldn’t it?
But while the jewelled clutches are perennial prized possessions here in the city of gold, they are not as frivolous as they appear.
Over the last decade, numerous investigations have revealed widespread use of child labour in creating items adorned with sequins and beads because their smaller fingers are more adept at handling them. If not children, then this kind of sewing is outsourced to the millions of women homeworkers in the global south who are among the most exploited and underpaid workers in the fashion industry.
Over the last decade, numerous investigations have revealed widespread use of child labour in creating items adorned with sequins and beads because their smaller fingers are more adept at handling them.
A staggering 168 million children are forced into child labour in developing countries annually, according to the nonprofit GoodWeave who aim to end the practice. The group has created a two-year pilot project in northern India to tackle tackle child and forced labor in informal embellished apparel, fashion jewelry and home textiles supply chains. They also work closely with communities to offer child protection and educational opportunities, aiming to reach and support 7,500 homeworkers and 6,000 children in the region.
There are issues with the materials used to embellish our beloved bags too. Glitter is basically tiny bits of plastic or aluminium foil that, just like the harmful micro beads found in cosmetic products, can’t be recycled and doesn’t biodegrade, so ends up in our oceans every year. Eight million tonnes of microplastic – smaller than 5mm – ends up in the ocean every day, according to experts, which is the equivalent of one truck load of plastic every minute
Because of its size, organisms, including oysters and fish ingest the microplastic and enter the food chain. Studies have shown that fish caught for human consumption contain plastic particles and microplastics are starting to kill fish before they reach reproductive age because larvae prefer to eat them than food.
Eight million tonnes of microplastic – smaller than 5mm – ends up in the ocean every day, according to experts, which is the equivalent of one truck load of plastic every minute
But don’t despair. We don’t have to give up our love of all things sparkly just yet as there are ethical alternatives out there.
Larone Artisans combine natural, sustainable fibres with the traditional artisanship of women in the Philippines to create jewel-like opalescent clutch bags made entirely by hand. They feature agate clasps while raffia clutches adorned are with peacock feathers made from cord, thread and environmentally-friendly beads.
We love the Peacock Feathers Signature, $129 (AED 474) and Turquoise Dream Oval clutch bags, $199 (AED 731).
Indian brand SUEDE, by Devina Juneja, who retail via Fashion Compassion support decent work opportunities for local people. They collaborate with sculptors, artists and goldsmiths while nearby women hand-stitch and hand-weave the clutch bags.
Bubbling Over Box Clutch in Shaded Bronze, £85 (AED 407)
Blend Knot Box in Shaded Silver, £85 (AED 407).
Finally, we can always rely on our ethical designer poster girl Stella McCartney to come up trumps with her clutch bags. Her Falabella Crystal Stones bag, £ 1,650, is a keeper.
Made from non-leather and cruelty-free crystal stones, featuring a diamond cut ruthenium chain trim and chain shoulder strap, with magnetic snap closure this is the ultimate in eco-friendly fashion. The lining has even been created from recycled plastic bottles and the gorgeous dark grey tone goes with anything.