As The Boss once sang, from small things big things one day come. This is the latest direction that luxury men’s portal MR PORTER has also taken, with the introduction of their Small World initiative that hopes to reconnect us to the world again through thoughtful, considered design objects and fashion.

Artists and designers from as far as Mexico, Bali, Japan and Nigeria appear on the Small World initiative. Courtesy: MR PORTER

Having officially launched in June, MR PORTER’s Small World offering is a considered capsule of goods that aims to bring us back into contact with intimate design, the hand-made and the authentic while focusing on sustainable methods of production. “We thought there is no better time to launch the Small World Initiative than now and start supporting sustainability and craftsmanship,” says Sam Kershaw, MR PORTER’s Buying Director. 

“Furthermore, MR PORTER has expanded our lifestyle category in the past year as a lot of our customers have been staying at home. We thought that the wide lifestyle offerings in Small World would be popular and resonate well with our customers. In the current retail and fashion climate, consumers continue to champion fairness and social justice in their purchases. I believe the consciousness of sustainability, circular fashion and reasonable sourcing is crucial to designers nowadays. MR PORTER believe that commitments towards people and planet must go hand in hand to build a better future.”

Part of this is the increased effort to support the cultural heritage of artists and artisans from regional areas across the globe. ​​Collectively, Small World brings together communities from as far afield as Bali, Mexico, Tibet, Nigeria, and Mali and those brands supporting local artisanal crafts in the US, UK, France, India, Portugal and Japan.

As the world faces ongoing restrictions with travel, it’s not just the major cities that suffer from drop in tourism but those smaller, independent artists whose work is dedicated to upholding traditional practices or methods of design and craftsmanship. Kershaw says that Small Worlds is a platform for independent makers to showcase their work on an international stage again. “Our aim for Small World is to connect our wide global audiences with global, independent and diverse artisanal brands from all around the world,” Kershaw tells ICON.

The Small Worlds initiative encompasses fashion and homewares by independent makers. Courtesy: MR PORTER

“Each Small World brand will also sit within the section designed to champion products made by brands that make a positive contribution to their communities and operate with environmental and social considerations at the forefront of their design and business decisions. Hertiage craft and Made locally are two principles of our Craftsmanship Code section, thus Indigenous crafts and traditional art formats are showcased in our Small World collection. For example, the brand Chamula creates wearable Folk Art from Mexico, using handloom (Handmade) 100 per cent cotton fabric made in a small rural village 15 kilometres from Chamula, Mexico. People make fabric themselves for their own clothing and house items. They shared their own fabric for the Small World collection, which is only for MR PORTER.”

Even before COVID forced us to stay home and actually start paying attention to the objects and items we had casually accumulated over the year, there was a growing movement towards more mindful consumerism. We wanted objects that evoked an emotional connection, that had a positive impact not just on our lives but the planet and retained a level of integrity. Small World is tapping into that need for authenticity.

To give you an idea of the incredible variety of product that MR PORTER has acquired for the Small World collection, we asked Kershaw what three things he was most excited about:

Ikeja Satin-Trimmed Tie-Dyed Cotton-Canvas Jacket by Post Imperial. Courtesy: MR PORTER

Post-Imperial – Ikeja Satin-Trimmed Tie-Dyed Cotton-Canvas Jacket

This cotton-canvas jacket is made using adire – a technique developed by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Hand-applied by master dyers, the process utilises wax and cassava starch paste to develop tonal-indigo marbling. The dye artisans guide the chaos within the process using wax to illustrate imperfect patterns that are bursting with colour.  Post-Imperial is a lifestyle brand based in New York with manufacturing partnerships in Nigeria, Morocco and Kenya. The brand is inspired by the idea of collaboration through myth-making (Community based story-telling), humanising materials and connecting to the African diaspora. The jacket is a great statement piece and I am very impressed by the hand-dyed technique.

Slowdown Studio – + Maite García Kimbie Fringed Recycled Cotton Throw

This cotton throw features the work of Uruguayan designer Ms Maite García, an artist found through the annual Slowdown Studio Art Competition. The blanket is woven from a combination of conventional and recycled cotton. Each piece is treated like an artwork with a limited run, nothing is mass produced. The artwork itself is very lively and I am so excited to put one in my living room. 

Monsieur Bovet Hand-Wound Watch. Courtesy: MR PORTER

BOVET – Monsieur Bovet Hand-Wound Watch

BOVET 1822 is one of the few brands in the watch industry that does everything in-house, aside from sapphire crystals and alligator straps. BOVET timepieces are distinguished by the innovative and unique watchmaking solutions, including but not limited to complications, tourbillons, world time displays, moon phases, power reserve, finishing, metiers d’art, and more. I am so excited that the storied heritage brand has created a watch exclusively for our MR PORTER Small World collection.