What… A Lidia May Bag

Why… Because conscious luxury and sustainable production will never go out of fashion

Founded in 2015 by May Yang and Rasheed Khan, Lidia May is a small brand with a big impact. Specialising in sustainably produced luxury embroidered leather totes and purses, the Dhaka-based company also seeks to empower women and alleviate poverty in Bangladesh. American-Chinese Yang moved to Bangladesh in 2013 to work in humanitarian aid, having previously been a paralegal and apprenticing with a leather craftsman in New York. An early partnership with the Bangladeshi NGO Friendship, which helps rural communities, and the vibrant fashion scene in Dhaka, awash with bespoke outfits and embroidered shalwar kemmez, inspired her to create a conscious contemporary fashion brand which could draw on her own expertise and the craft heritage of Bangladesh.

The bags combine simple elegance, clean lines and functional form with beautiful, vibrant, embroidered detailing. The leather used in the bags is dyed and vegetable-tanned in a responsible tannery in Dhaka and the thread coloured using plant-dyes. The Pema collection is named after the lotus flower in Bhutanese and features beautiful hand-embroidered blooms. In Buddhism, lotus flowers, which grow from mud in clear water, represent the cycle of suffering, then a process of purification. Their blossoms signify the beginning of charitable liberation, and even enlightenment.

Lidia May works alongside the Lidia Hope Centre, a non-profit organisation which supports over 400 families. As part of this, they run the Centre’s Embroidery Artisan Training program which teaches women the skilled craft of embroidery. Their valued crafts(wo)manship affords a decent standard of living for the women and their families.

Recently, May Yang has been granted permission to use the designs of the late artist Surayia Rahman in her pieces. Rahman is famous for reviving the quilt-work known as Kantha (and transforming it into a globally recognised art form) whilst also using it as the basis for her own non-profit female-focused social enterprise.

Sustainable fashion, social enterprise and enterprising women: in the bag.

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