The online marketplace needs a revolution: here's where it begins

The online marketplace needs a revolution: here's where it begins

Written by Eleanor Halls

The world’s oldest marketplace is in Istanbul: the Grand Bazaar, meaning, ‘covered market’. It opened in the mid-1400s, as part of the Ottoman Empire’s quest to stimulate economic prosperity, turning Turkey’s beautiful walled city into a bustling meeting point for merchants to talk and trade everything from jewels and crystals to silks, books, scent and spices. Today, 91 million people pool beneath the Bazaar’s grand stone archways every year, making it the top tourist attraction in the world. They come away not just with suitcases stuffed with colourful cloth, but with memories: rich and full, of faces, places, and stories to tell. 

Grand Bazaar

When you think of online marketplaces however, what do you see? Most likely, you see soulless rows of identical products, prices, and buttons that ferry items to checkout faster than you can blink. Memories are swapped for efficacy, order, and uniformity. Once the product is in your hands, what is there to remember? 

Hibana was founded to make the modern marketplace more memorable, to bridge the gap between the offline and the online experience, and to bring people together in the process. At Hibana, we connect the conscious and curious consumer craving a more vibrant and positive shopping experience, with independent British brands that have stories to tell and values that inspire. 

Because when you buy from our specially curated collective of brands, you’re not just coming away with a product, but an experience, too. In our lockdown world, our experiences have become atomised and grey. But through Hibana, consumers can rediscover the colour and joy that comes with the intimacy of the shared moments we so love when shopping offline. 

“At Hibana, we connect the conscious and curious consumer craving a more vibrant and positive shopping experience, with independent British brands that have stories to tell and values that inspire.”

A moment catching someone’s eye as you browse the shelves to your favourite shop, before swapping a joke with a familiar face at the till. Or, after wandering down a little cobbled alleyway to a tiny studio at the bottom, emerging half an hour later holding a gift carefully wrapped by the person who made it, who told you their story as they tacked sellotape to the sides. On your way home, you notice you’re holding onto something else now, too: a memory. 

At Hibana, we want to recreate the spark behind that offline experience; of stumbling across the unexpected, and forging long-term connections to the brands you love and the people that make them. At a time during which small businesses are struggling to stay afloat – knocked sideways by the death of the high-street, big brands and now the pandemic, with the livelihoods of designers and craftspeople hanging by a thread – loyalty to independent brands has become all the more vital. Keeping independent brands alive is about more than just the money: these brands provide the patchwork to our communities and our culture. 

From Hiut Denim Co., the jeans manufacturer in the little Welsh town of Cardigan that makes just 130 pairs of jeans a week on old Soviet sewing machines, and Two Drifters Rum, the world’s first carbon negative rum distillery, to Nemi Teas, which employs refugees in need of work experience to make their biodegradable tea bags, each of our brands have been hand-selected for their purpose and their heart. 

Prioritising ethics and sustainability, our brands believe in the planet, its people, and a desire to change the status quo. Each brand is driven by the need to loosen the hold that fast fashion, wasteful consumption and global monopolies have on our society. Our collection of brands are completely unique, but as a collective they have one thing in common: a vision for a better world. 

Discover our innovative and inspiring collective of brands.