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Folk art: A ‘craving for things different’

SANTA FE, N.M. — A Dutch international “trend forecaster,” known for saying fashion is dead and listed as one of Time magazine’s” Most Influential People in Fashion,” is coming to Santa Fe to tell International Folk Art Market artisans how their kind of handmade work is making a fashion breakthrough.

And on a bigger scale, Lidewij “Li” Edelkoort says, the market’s artists can change the world.

Edelkoort was chosen as this year’s honorary chair for the Folk Art Market not only for her substantial prestige, according to International Folk Art Alliance CEO Jeff Snell.

Because of her work in the design and fashion industry, Edelkoort has been knighted by the Dutch royal family and honored by the French Ministry of Culture. She’s a dean at New York’s Parson’s School of Design and has been an advisor for such companies as Armani, Disney and Google.

But Snell said Edelkoort also was invited to be part of the Folk Art Market because of her commitment to handmade and unique products, and her expertise on how millennials are bypassing major fashion labels in favor of items like the ones that will be sold on Museum Hill July 15 and 16.

“They’re no longer satisfied with the $500 handbag,” Snell said of this generation’s “impact-conscious” consumers.

“They want to be catalytic with their purchases and more mindful with what they’re triggering. A handmade piece of folk art that is benefiting a co-op in a part of the world that needs health care and education … has impacted thousands of lives.”

It’s a “craving for things different,” Edelkoort told the Journal via Skype.

Edelkoort will also head a panel discussion with other international experts on what it means for artisans to be “social entrepreneurs.” The Wednesday talk at The Lensic, hosted by Snell, will be open to the vendors coming from around the world to sell their items at the Folk Art Market

To Edelkoort, being a social innovator or entrepreneur is using a business to tackle the world’s most pressing issues and finding ways to do work on a more “human scale.” This could mean finding ethical solutions to labor and fair trade issues, as well as preserving resources by not overproducing.

“We have an opportunity because things are stale now, things have been running into a moment of regression,” said Edelkoort. She will be pulling inspiration from her famous “Anti-Fashion Manifesto,” which calls the industry obsolete, for the Santa Fe discussion.

“This also creates the opportunity to create new ideas,” she said. “It’s the wonderful moment where things die, but you can also reinvent.”

Other panelists include Diana Wells, president of the global social entrepreneurship organization Ashoka: Innovators for the Public; Nat Sloane, England chair for the Big Lottery Fund, a U.K. group that provides grants to community groups and charities; and Kim Meredith, founder of Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy & Civil Society.

Meredith said artists need to be part of these conversations because of their status as “change-makers” in a global society.

“Artists everywhere are often a good indicator of social change, social unrest … . They’re putting out new ways of thinking through their art,” Meredith said.

The Wednesday talk, Creating Global Impact: Social Innovation and Cross-Sector Solutions, is open to the public. Free tickets can be reserved through The Lensic.

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