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Larissa Hadjio

Alliance of Independent Dreamers

The new online platform founded by Makin Jan Ma collates donated artwork and garments from the creatives involved for the Japanese Red Cross

If Michael Jackson hoped to ‘heal the world’ by moonwalking, the Alliance of Independent Dreamers (aka A.I.D). is doing its share of mending via design. The East-London born collective project brings together by creators of all sorts, all determined to raise funds for a distraught Japan, one t-shirt at a time.

Founded by Chinese-born, Shoreditch-based designer Makin Jan Ma (but he prefers to be called MJM), A.I.D. consists of an online platform where one can purchase artworks and garments made and donated by the artists involved; the profits are then granted to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Involved are, amongst others, Matthew Miller, Annelie Carlström, Ally Capellino – and the list goes on (and on). Dazed Digital met up with Makin in his studio and talked about the importance for fashion to get involved with contemporary issues.

Dazed Digital: Apart from the obvious horror of the Japanese situation, what made you want to get involved? What did it specifically resonate with you?
Makin Jan Ma:
It is part of us and part of everyone. On top of that I am very familiar with the place and feel connected to the Japanese culture. As soon as I saw the amount of suffering happening, I knew I had to help.

DD: Do you think it's the role of fashion to try and help society in one way or another?
Makin Jan Ma:
It is the role of human beings, whatever field of work we are in, to do the right thing in their own way. All of us make mistakes that damage our planet, and it is our responsibility to take action when things go wrong.

DD: What is the philosophy, the message behind AID?
Makin Jan Ma:
AID stands for the Alliance of Independent Dreamers, and it is about bringing together creative people that believe in a better future. The dreamers disregard social norms, common ideas and systems, and that allows them to criticize, innovate and ultimately make a real change in the world. There are a few layers to the AID philosophy, initially we started off with the aim to put all competition aside and bring together our friends and peers in the fields of fashion, design and art.

When we started receiving a lot of positive response, we began to understand how powerful this project could be, as through collaboration we empower the purpose. On another note, we see the AID project evolving and expanding its reach in the future, we would love to see it taking a life of its own by increasing the number of participants, allowing our dreamers to take initiative and use this network to further collaborate on philanthropic initiatives and ultimately make a difference in the world. 

DD: What are special about the objects and designs on sale? How are they suited to the AID philosophy?
Makin Jan Ma:
It is a process of giving, sharing and love. Each contribution is a gesture of goodwill, as most of the participants are not yet in the position where they can contribute to the cause financially or physically, we asked each participant to donate a piece of their existing work. At the moment it is quite raw and eclectic, and there is no theme or selection process for donations, but by doing that we are trying to remain honest.

You can find many collaborations and projects that offer products that have been made specifically in regards to the Japanese disaster, but we didn't want to give people a badge for their support, we want people to buy the product they want and will use and the fact that all of the profits are donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society is just an added feature.