• Celebrating refugee craft with MADE51
crafting textiles

Celebrating refugee craft with MADE51

Jun 01, 2022 LifeWear
This year UNIQLO is honoured to host MADE51 pop up stores to support refugee craft. MADE51 is a global brand created by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, which connects refugee artisans with local social enterprises to design, make, and market home décor and accessories across the world. The brand has been established to help refugees achieve economic independence by making use of their valuable skills, traditions, and heritage as part of a sustainable value chain.

Customers will find the handmade merchandise in selected flagship stores in UK, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Benelux and the Netherlands. The proceeds from MADE51 sales will be donated to UNHCR to further support MADE51 and their work to connect refugees artisans with international markets.

In addition to being hand-crafted by refugees, each MADE51 product reveals something about the history and culture of the artisans that make the products. Hammered brass bowls clad in leather are made by Malian refugees in Burkina Faso using heritage Tuareg metalworking techniques. Vivid embroidered cushions made by Afghan refugee women in Pakistan showcase needlework techniques that have been passed from mothers to daughters for generations. UNIQLO is proud to celebrate the talent and potential of refugee artisans and bring these beautiful products and their rich stories to UNIQLO customers.

MADE51 is active in 23 countries, working in partnership with 30 local social enterprises that engage directly with refugee artisan groups. MADE51 takes each of these partners through an ethical compliance assessment led by the World Fair Trade Organisation to ensure their operations meet Fair Trade standards. At present, MADE51 is working with nearly 3000 artisans, over 95% of whom are women.

Leather & brass bowl

Crafted by Malian refugees living in Burkina Faso

These delightful bowls are made by Malian refugees of Tuareg descent. The Tuareg are a nomadic population that historically travelled across the Sahara desert with their animal herds. Much of their craftsmanship reflects their ability to thrive in the desert by making both aesthetic and utilitarian items, like jewellery, saddles, swords, rugs, and tents. In the Tuareg culture, artisans belong to a hereditary caste which includes blacksmiths, leatherworkers, and jewellers.

Sisterhood Pouch

Crafted by Syrian women refugees living in Lebanon, in partnership with Rim N Roll

The Sisterhood Pouch represents the solidarity of women around the world and a dedication to creating a world in which women have equal rights and opportunities. The group of women who make these pouches are talented Syrian refugees. Embroidery is a way for them to earn much-needed income, but also a means to express their creativity and build community with one another.

Pink Benri Cushion

Crafted by Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, in partnership with Artisan Links

Each of these intricately embroidered cushions are created by Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. These artisans specialise in Kandahari, Tarshumar, Zangeera, and Puktadozi embroidery techniques, which have been passed down for generations. Embroidery holds strong cultural significance to Afghans as different techniques are tied to different regions and ethnic groups. The ability to keep heritage embroidery skills alive while living in forced displacement is allowing refugees to preserve their culture.

Amaryllis basket

Crafted by Burundian refugees living in Rwanda, in partnership with Indego Africa

This piece was created by Burundian refugees living in Rwanda. These refugees use traditional weaving techniques such as plaiting and coiling sweetgrass in order to create vibrant, artistic patterns in their pieces. These techniques are time-honoured traditions from the artisans’ home country, with a modern design.

Frida Doll

Crafted by Afghan refugees living in India, in partnership with SilaiWali

This beautiful doll was crafted using waste materials from industrial clothing production. This doll is hand-stitched by Afghan refugees living in India. Each doll is as unique as the refugee woman who stitched it. These Afghan women embroider and sew with techniques passed down through generations. With continued care for sustainability, each doll is crafted from upcycled materials.

Farawee the Sheep

This little sheep is inspired by a famous Syrian children's poem. Each one is crocheted by Syrian refugee women in Turkey using organic cotton. All of the artisans working on these toys are mothers, many of whom have few other work opportunities that are compatible with their domestic responsibilities.