Maiyet CEO shares business philosophy at GCU New York

17 October 2014

Maiyet CEO shares business philosophy at GCU New York

Paul van Zyl pictured with Vanessa Friedman and GCU New York VP Cara Smyth

GCU New York welcomed Paul van Zyl, CEO and Co-Founder of Maiyet, to share his insights on the brand’s leading business model for building a socially responsible luxury fashion brand.

The conversation was the latest in GCU NY’s Fashion Sharing Progress series and was moderated by Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic of The New York Times Vanessa Friedman, who is also an Honorary Professor of Glasgow Caledonian University.

Cara Smyth, Vice-President of GCU NY, introduced the speakers. She said: “We were honored and delighted to have Paul van Zyl and Vanessa Friedman in conversation. The fashion industry can be an incredible instrument for sustainable development and Maiyet's approach is a true inspiration.”

Paul van Zyl described the philosophy behind Maiyet, which was born from wanting to try to find ways of giving people employment in other economies and the dignity of work. Maiyet has built a new business model for luxury fashion partnering with local artisans.

The business leader said: “Maiyet has been birthed as a company that celebrates pioneers of new luxury and looks for rare skills from unexpected places.

“We try to leverage this into a fashion brand which will sell on its own terms and which people will find desirable. It won’t lean on its social mission as a clutch, but rather will have its social mission as its soul, with products that stand on their own.”

In addition to founding luxury label Maiyet in 2011, Paul van Zyl was the Executive Secretary of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 1995 to 1998.  He is known for pioneering new approaches to human rights protection and has advised countries around the world on how to facilitate transitions to peace and democracy, following periods of mass atrocity and human rights abuse.

Paul said: “The great philosophers say that the hardest things in life are not choices between good and evil, it’s a choice between good and good.”

GCU New York’s ongoing Fashion Sharing Progress Town Hall series brings different perspectives on sustainable development and helps identify new solutions, with teams of professors and professionals collaborating with industry experts to facilitate ‘new’ learning while incorporating ethical, environmental, and social considerations.

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