Paul Van Zyl is a busy man. The social entrepreneur and human rights lawyer also co-runs the luxury brand Maiyet – one of the first to successfully introduce globally sourced sustainable and artisanal designs, spanning fashion, jewellery, beauty and homewares, to the luxury market. Now Van Zyl has another plate to spin as the production side of Maiyet is temporarily paused and its name transferred to a new breed of pop-up store, the Maiyet Collective.
The first Maiyet Collective concept store opens at The Conduit – the recently opened ethical members’ club housed in a restored Mayfair townhouse, which promotes the exchange of ideas aimed at tackling social challenges through entrepreneurism. Diversity forms the bedrock of this club – talks and events are held with leading thinkers, while fees are structured to enable a new generation with bright ideas to join investors who could potentially promote the causes they champion.
The Conduit’s remit focuses on education and skills, health and nutrition, climate and sustainability and women’s empowerment, and Van Zyl and his team have assembled 56 brands for the store project that champion similar causes – from ready-to-wear fashion and accessories through to jewellery, homewares and beauty – creating a monthly pop-up that will take place from Thursday (set aside for club members only) to Saturday at the start of each month, beginning November 1. “All the brands have beautiful products at varied price points,” says Van Zyl. “Ten years ago we could not have found them – now their inventiveness is showing the way forward.”
The collection includes well-known names: there are silk dresses (from £275) by Beulah London, which supports women in countries affected by human trafficking, and designs from Mother of Pearl’s new sustainable collection (from £195). The jewellery offer includes pieces (from £60) by Pippa Small, whose projects with the Prince of Wales’ Turquoise Mountain charity creates employment for women in Afghanistan, Burma and Jordan, and items (from £350) in fair-trade gold and gems from designers such as Stephen Webster and GFG Jewellery (from £225). Names to discover include New York womenswear label Where Mountains Meet (from £285), which is run by an all-female team; French brand Côme Editions, whose customised tailored blousons (from £350) are embroidered to order by Senegalese women; Juta espadrilles (from £80) made in London with Spanish rope soles and reclaimed leather; and Ishkar’s ceramics and glassware (from £55) made by craftspeople in war zones.
The Conduit is a convivial setting for shopping and its bar and café serves cuisine made with ingredients sourced from small-scale British producers – and where possible food waste is repurposed to make essentials like biofuel. Van Zyl is optimistic about the club’s unusual business model. “We already have 1,600 members and I have no doubt the word will spread.”