Fashion's Conscience: Kristy Caylor of Maiyet

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Fashion's Conscience: Kristy Caylor of Maiyet
Kristy Caylor, the 36-year-old president and creative director of the women’s clothing and accessories brand Maiyet, travels half the year searching for craftspeople in Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Peru. Caylor puts the artisans’ talents to work in bringing Maiyet’s designs to the runway. Her larger goal: to build stronger communities by creating jobs that value local skills and traditions. —JEN MURPHY
Photo by Hugh Sitton/Corbis
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    Filling the Well of Ideas
    Caylor’s travels find their way into her design aesthetic. “Exposure to the varied landscapes, prints, patterns, and energy of different places helps fill the well of ideas,” she says. “The remarkable ingenuity of different communities inspires me to stretch my creative boundaries.” One recent line was meant to evoke a journey through the Himalayas. “The textured materials reflected glacier striations,” Caylor says, “and the felting on the wools was inspired by snow-dusted yaks.”
    Photo by Hugh Sitton/Corbis
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    Style Icons
    Caylor’s style icons include the actress Jane Birkin. Other influences include the sculptures of Constantin Brâncuşi.
    Birkin photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis. Brâncuşi photo by Adam Rzepka/Centre Pompidou
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    Farflung Inspiration
    Designs in the 2014 Resort collection reference works by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. Maiyet’s Diamond Owl Cuff bracelet is made in Jaipur, India.
    El Anatsui photo by Elizabeth Miller; Cuff photo courtesy of Maiyet
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    Back to the 1930s
    The sun-faded 
colors and ultrasheer textiles in the 2014 line are meant to recall the heat wave of 1936 and steamy nights at Harlem’s Cotton Club.
    Photo by Underwood & Underwood/Corbis
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    Downtime Refreshers
    “I don’t have much downtime on my work trips, so I need to keep my energy up,” Caylor says. “Jet lag is not an option.” As soon as she gets off a plane, she goes running, fueled by a playlist of Passion Pit, Britney Spears, and Flo Rida. “It’s a great way to shake off a long flight and explore a new city.” When she’s not traveling for Maiyet, Caylor enjoys entertaining friends at her home in New York City. She pairs dishes with wines from her Napa- and Bordeaux-centric collection. For R&R, she heads to her family’s home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. “We take my father’s boat out to Disappearing Island near Ponce Inlet for beach games,” Caylor says. A favorite mainland lunch stop: The Breakers.
    Photo by Jason Perss/Flickr
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    Visual Stimulation
    Caylor’s favorite museums include the Tate Modern, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shown.
    Photo by Scott S. Warren/National Geographic Society/Corbis
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    The Year Off
    “If I had a year off, I would find a country house in Tuscany or Umbria and perfect my Italian, paint, and get lots of exercise,” Caylor says.
    Tuscany image by Radius Images/Corbis. Shoe courtesy of Nike.
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    Fashion with a Conscience
    After serving as president of the Los Angeles clothing brand Band of Outsiders and leading Gap’s Product (RED) line, in 2010 Caylor was recruited by Paul van Zyl, a former human rights lawyer, to work with him on Maiyet. “We decided that 
the meaning of luxury centers around craftsmanship,” Caylor says. Maiyet finds many of its artisan collaborators through Nest, a nonprofit that seeks
 out skilled craftspeople and connects them with fashion brands in the United States. Caylor sketches out designs in Maiyet’s New York City headquarters, artisans make the goods, and the final products are sold at Maiyet’s Soho boutique and through such retailers as Barneys and Net-a-Porter.
    Photo by Stuart Freedman/In Pictures/Corbis
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    Luxury and Craftmanship
    Maiyet’s Machu Picchu earrings are made in a small workshop in Jaipur, India, and are set with Brazilian emeralds and 18- karat yellow gold.
    Photo courtesy of Maiyet
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    Worldwide Craftspeople
    Today, Maiyet works with block printers in Jaipur, India; silk weavers in Varanasi, India; and brass-casting specialists in Nairobi, Kenya.
    Photo courtesy of Maiyet