Our wonderful story starts back in 1973 when the first Monsoon boutique opened on London’s Beauchamp Place. Peter Simon (our founder) had returned from a life-changing road trip around Asia – determined to share the colorful marvels of his experience. And the first Monsoon collections featured gorgeous bohemian clothes made in Indian villages using hand-loomed cotton fabrics, organic vegetable dyes and artisanal block-printing techniques.
Ten years later came the launch of our Accessorize brand with the debut of its very first store on the Piazza in London’s Covent Garden – a one-stop destination for the on-trend finishing touches that complete every great fashion look.
Today, our two great sister brands have an international presence with over 1,000 stores around the world. Throughout the UK and much further afield, each is recognised for its unique identity and distinctive handwriting inspired by mesmerizing colours, patterns, textures and hand-craft techniques from magical, faraway places.
What makes us special?
From the moment the first Monsoon boutique opened back in 1973, we’ve always championed creativity and craft, informed by a passion for exploration and tempered by genuine concern for the world around us. We make the exotic accessible. And we prove that ethical trading makes good business sense too.
Above all else, we’re a people business.
At Monsoon Accessorize, we aim to enrich the lives of our customers through beautiful collections and an exceptional shopping experience. Like any dynamic enterprise, we create opportunities and sustain livelihoods. But we also strive to share our success with the people around the world who make it possible.
The difference we make
We believe in the positive, empowering, life-changing power of trade rather than aid. And we want to do right by the people who make our beautiful things. As a founder member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), we’ve been at the forefront of driving sustainable improvements in working conditions and livelihoods wherever we do business. But that’s not all. Each year, the Monsoon Accessorize Trust (founded in 1994) supports life-changing projects in income-generation, healthcare and education for over 15,000 women and children throughout Asia. Click here for more info about our commitment to ETHICAL TRADINGClick here for more info about our charitable TRUST
Discover something extraordinary Hand-craft has always been at the heart of what we do. Helping to sustain age-old hand-craft techniques and traditions, our beautiful new ARTISAN collection showcases truly wonderful work by skilled craftspeople across Asia.
We want to do right by the people who make our beautiful things.
We don’t run our own factories or directly employ the artisans who hand-craft and embellish our most exceptional pieces. But we do ask every single one of our suppliers to commit to the Monsoon Accessorize Code Of Conduct. It’s based on ETI standards, and aims to protect workers by setting out minimum requirements on working conditions, pay and employment rights.
This is just a starting point. To us, ethical trading is all about building long-standing, sustainable relationships. Although we’ve worked with many of our suppliers for over 20 years, we never ever turn a blind eye. To ensure we drive meaningful and enduring improvements in working conditions, our response to any issue is collaborative. Wherever we find a problem, we work together to put things right. And we monitor progress through regular visits to suppliers’ factories from our own audit teams plus external experts too. If a supplier doesn’t come up to scratch within a reasonable time frame, we can and will move our business elsewhere.
Our efforts don’t stop at the factory gates. They extend to the artisans and other skilled workers who help create some of our most special things – often in small local workshops or even their own homes. We require all our suppliers to ensure these craftspeople receive fair ‘piece rates’ for their wonderful work. And this is closely monitored by our ethical compliance team.
Working with small communities of craftspeople in faraway places is a complex process with lots of challenges. But it’s always been an important part of who we are and what we do. We’re proud to help generate incomes, sustain livelihoods and preserve age-old hand-craft techniques.
Our charitable Trust (founded in 1994) now helps over 10,000 disadvantaged women and children in Asia, each year, through a range of education, healthcare and income-generation projects. Our focus is on driving meaningful and sustainable change. And our goal is always to reach the people who need our help most – enabling them to build a brighter, better future.
Current initiatives include a programme of healthcare provision in remote villages of Rajhastan (India), special support for a Delhi hostel sheltering homeless children, and an initiative to help rebuild the silk cultivation industry in Afghanistan. Other projects include employment for women artisans in Kabul and support for disabled and orphaned children in Sri Lanka.
We believe in the impact and enduring benefits of trade over aid. But we don’t just aim to help sustain artisanal communities by placing orders for the beautiful and unique things they produce. We strive to do more. So we also help the people in these communities build better lives by supporting initiatives that improve their families’ access to healthcare and education – as well as creating income generation opportunities.
Our community programme specifically supports the following collectives and projects:
SEWA Embroidery Centre –a women’s co-operative providing access to education, training, micro finance and fair wages for over 500 disadvantaged embroidery workers in Delhi. Now fully integrated into our supply chain, SEWA is responsible for at least five different styles within our ARTISAN collection each season.
Stree Shakti – a women’s quilting co-operative in the foothills of the Himalayas. We fund education, transport and support for product development.
Barabanki Weavers Project – an initiative to improve livelihoods of hand-loom weavers in an area outside Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). We fund education, training and healthcare.
ASK Sarai Tareen – a ground-breaking project to recruit children out of child labour and into education in an area renowned for metal handicrafts and jewellery production.
Afghan Silk Project – a project with Christian Aid to help revive the silk industry in the Herat province of Afghanistan, providing income opportunities for local women.
Turquoise Mountain Foundation – a project in Kabul to produce jewellery with women artisans, in collaboration with jewellery designer Pippa Small.
ASHIANA – a not-for-profit organization creating livelihoods in jewellery-making for women affected by HIV/AIDS in a Delhi slum area.
SADHNA – a collective in Udaipur (Rajasthan) which provides income opportunities for desert artisans specialising in intricate embroidery.
Supporting our efforts
Everyone who shops with us – and most especially everyone who buys something from our ARTISAN range – is enabling us to help sustain age-old traditional hand-crafts as well as the livelihoods of skilled craftspeople.
But you can also help us raise funds for specific causes by shopping from our charity ranges. We’ve recently collaborated with cool and caring flip-flop label Gandys to raise money for Sri Lankan charity, EMERGE. And our link-up with jewellery designer Pippa Small supports the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan.
During our annual Charity Week, people working within our London HQ and in our stores throughout the UK are generous in their support and tireless in their efforts to raise funds for The Monsoon Accessorize Trust. We’re also sincerely grateful for the generous support of customers, suppliers and other businesses with which we work.
THE WORLD AROUND US
STAYING TRUE TO OUR GREEN-FINGERED ROOTS The first Monsoon collections featured gorgeous bohemian clothes made in Indian villages using hand-loomed cotton fabrics, organic vegetable dyes and artisanal block-printing techniques. And, although we’ve grown into a global brand, we’ve never lost our concern for the environment or commitment to ethical trading. So, as well as striving to do right by the people who make our beautiful things, we work hard to reduce the environmental impact of all that we do. PACKING AND WASTE Absolutely committed to best practices in recycling and minimising waste, we’ve recently introduced rainwater harvesting and expanded recycling facilities at our Head Office in London. We’ve also dispensed with all unnecessary packaging from our products. Wherever possible, we use only FSC-certified paper and biodegradable plastic. PUSHING SUSTAINABILITY INTO FASHION As a measure of our passion for sustainable fashion, we sponsored London Fashion Week’s ESTETHICA showcase for ethical designers every season for 5 years. More recently, we’ve supported a highly creative awareness-raising collaboration between artist-designer Alex Noble’s pioneering EMG (Everything Must Go) upcycling project and SEWA, our charity partner in Delhi. We’re also working with Royal College of Art students on artisan-inspired collections. Other key projects include a 3-year initiative with Oxfam to help Indian cotton farmers convert to organic farming methods, and a scheme to help Indian fashion students develop and use sustainable fabrics.
SAVING ENERGY Our Green Action Programme, augmented by the introduction of energy-efficient fittings throughout our store network, has already achieved significant reductions in our total energy consumption. But we’re not resting there. We’ve targeted ourselves to achieve a further 10% saving across all our UK operations by 2016. And we’ve pledged to minimise our use of air freight. STATEMENT ON ANGORA WOOL Following concerns raised about the treatment of angora rabbits in Chinese farms, during 2013-14, we conducted detailed audits of the farms used by our suppliers. These audits confirmed that live plucking was not used anywhere in our supply chain. Our supplier farms worked towards the 5 Freedoms of animal welfare and, in particular, freedom from hunger, thirst, pain, discomfort and distress. They took great care to ensure that the shearing process did not cause stress or injury. However, despite the above, we recognise that some of our customers still feel uncomfortable with the continued inclusion of angora in our ranges. For this reason, we have decided to end the use of angora in all future production of our clothing and accessories. ANIMAL WELFARE We operate a strict policy of zero-tolerance towards abuse and maltreatment of animals in our supply chain. We don’t use real fur. In fact, the only animal-derived materials we use (eg leather, feathers, down) are by-products of the food industry. And we take special care to ensure any luxury yarns (such as alpaca, mohair, cashmere, angora and merino) are sourced only from producers who uphold high standards in animal husbandry. No animal testing is permitted in the development or manufacture of our cosmetics or fragrances.