The Hand of Fashion 2nd edition

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2nd Edition S u s t a i n a b l e F a s h i o n ’s R e a l P r o b l e m F o r e v e r L E AT H E R i n E t h i o p i a FLORIANE de SAINT PIERRE P a p i e r- M a c h é f r o m H A I T I B E AT o f A F R I C A Child Labor Free B U R K I N A FA S O Namsa Leuba



MIMCO design unique accessories collections. This tote and pouch have been crafted in partnership with the International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative. MIMCO proudly supports the initiative that plays an active role in reducing poverty by empowering women through work and enabling their communities to thrive. As each piece brings joy to the wearer, know also that it brings joy, self-confidence and empowerment to the artisan that has made it, their entire family and community. Available online & in-store from November 2015 MIMCO.COM.AU/EFI


kia ora! buongiorno! jambo rafiki! bonjou! hola! hujambo! habari! malo e leilei! gidday! aloha! bonjour! hallo! Foreword

These last months we have seen, and continue to see masses of people leaving Africa and the Middle East to reach Europe in hope for a better life. Many of them are escaping from conflict or extreme hardship with no access to the ‘functionings’ of their societies. (I use this word in the sense of Amartya Sen). With this digital publication created in collaboration with the revolutionary Black Magazine team, we intend to offer a different view of Africa and other developing nations we work in. Our goal is to present the beauty of their artisans, designers and the immense creative resources available in developing countries around the world. This seems to be the logic of today’s work: coexistence of hope and despair. The UN General Assembly discusses Sustainable Development Goals. Here, we highlight some examples of sustainable development. Fashion conceived and made by people who can access dignified work and improve their lives. This is a challenge for those who want to work in this sector, as stated by Floriane de Saint Pierre, the woman behind fashion’s top human resources consulting firm. The world is undergoing a cultural revolution, sparked by a fundamental shift of priorities from pure profit to caring about people. We hope you enjoy this edition and most importantly, we invite you to join the movement. Simone Cipriani, ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative



Editors/creative direction: Black Magazine Grant Fell & Rachael Churchward Art Director Nina van Lier ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative EFI Editor: Chloé Mukai Assistant editor: MarieJo Cartier The Hand of Fashion is published by: BLK NZ Ltd/Black Magazine P.O.Box 68-259, Newton, Auckland, New Zealand/Aotearoa Ph: + 64 9 817 9601 @ BLK NZ Ltd, 2015 To support: ITC ETHICAL FASHION INITIATIVE International Trade Centre 54-56 rue de Montbrillant, Geneva, 1202, Switzerland Telephone: +41-22-730.0223 The views expressed in The Hand of Fashion are not necessarily those of the publishers and editors and in no way represent the views of the International Trade Centre, the United Nations or World Trade Organization.

Writers Simone Cipriani, Grant Fell, Chloé Mukai, Bérénice Magistretti, Clare Press, Evelyn Liautaud Quine, Simonetta Gianfelici, Kukua, MarieJo Cartier, Carmen Artigas PHOTOGRAPHERS Thom Kerr, Anne Mimault, Louis Nderi, Tahir Carl Karmali, Namsa Leuba, Chloé Mukai, Marie Arago, Julio Piatti, Daniel Sery, Tamzin Haughton, Justin Polkey, Livio Bez, Brett Rubin & Nicole Van Heerden, Eniko Szucks, Nick Breton, Simon Deiner, Kerry Glanfield, Kyle Boshoff, Chris Saunders, Vanni Bassetti, Nina Van Lier HAIR & MAKE-UP Justin Henry ARTISTS/ILLUSTRATORS Maria Muscalu & Brian Omolo SUB EDITOR: MarieJo Cartier ADVERTISING: Grant Fell +64 21 407 248 Thanks to: Justin Henry Beauty, Mary Maguet, RPD Models, the weavers of AZPF, the cotton farmers of Bama, Habou Paulin, Nathanaël Dagane, Anne Pressoir, Haram Sidibé, Ingrid Colonna, Aysylu Yanturina, Almea Bordino, Dawit Yayine, Franco Iacovino, Serge Adeagbo, Elisabetta Facco, Kat Lodes, Kazuko Niwano, Jiali Yang, Nao Tamai, Carlos Ayma, Maria-Elena Moioli, Valentina Pieri, Mariam Maiga, Hussein Feyssa, Macenna Derouen, Charmaine Ayden, Claire Bergkamp, Laura McCuaig, Jessica Evans, Fiona McKillackey, Nelly Oryan, Trisha Shoesmith, Paula Coles, AVSI, les artisans de la Croix-des-Bouquets et de la rue de la Réunion, Peace Quilts, Satuguru Travel, Boubakar Doumbia, Ethical Fashion Artisans, Vincent Oduor, Comatex, Segatex, Benkadi, Tissa Sahel, Mme Thérèse, Marcelline Sawadogo, Le Groupement de Producteurs de Coton “Sagnon”, Sanou Augustin, Sanou Ali, Ouattara Bengali, Hotel Sissiman and many other friends of the Ethical Fashion Initiative and Black Magazine.



News at Hand 18. Fashion Revolutionary 24. Child Labor Free 26. Mimco’s Kenyan Hands 30. Access Or Rize 32. Floriane de Saint Pierre 36. Forever leather in Ethiopia Design For Life 44. Beat of Africa 46. 1981 48. FOMI 50. Mimi Plange 52. Sindiso Khumalo 54. Loza Maléombho 56. Galago 58. Kibonen NY


Fashion At Work 106. Madame Magnifique 110. AZPF Artisans by Anne Mimault Art Is At Hand 130. Namsa Leuba 142. EFI goes to California 144. Papier-Mâché It’s Going To Work 152. Sustainable Fashion’s (Real) Problem 158. It’s Not That Appropriate

Photography: Thom Kerr Fashion editor: Rachael Churchward Hair & Make-up: Justin Henry at Vivien’s Creative Melbourne Model: Mary Maguet at RPD NZ All Accessories: Stella Jean RTW SS 2015


60. CHICHia London 62. Taibo Bacar 64. Projecto Mental 66. Orange Culture 68. Maxhosa by Laduma 70. Constellation Africa 76. The Magic Métissage 80. Fashion editorial: Return to Bama 98. Organico Accessorio




Simone Cipriani Chief Technical Advisor, ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, Geneva Photo: Trevor Stuurman

Chloé Mukai Communication Manager, ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, Geneva Photo: Louis Nderi

MarieJo Cartier ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, Geneva (with Jeniffer Kaari) Photo: Chloé Mukai

Louis Nderi

Photographer, Nairobi. Photo: Terilyn Lemaire


Simonetta Gianfelici Talent scout, model, curator, Rome Photo: Angelo Cricchi

Rachael Churchward Creative Director, Black Magazine, Auckland. Photo: Ribal & Gil

Grant Fell Editor, Black Magazine, Auckland. Photo: Damien Nikora

Nina Van Lier Art director/Designer, Auckland. Photo: Damien Nikora 13


Namsa Leuba Art director & Photographer, Lausanne. Photo: Tim Barber

Anne Mimault Photographer, Ouagadougou Photo: Anne Mimault

Kukua Editor in Chief and CEO of African Prints in Fashion LLC, Brooklyn, NY Photo: APIF

Carmen Artigas Designer, Sustainability Consultant and Educator, San Diego. Photo: Jerome d’Almeida

Evelyn Liautaud Quine Visual Artist - Consultant Surface -Textile Designer Creative Director at CHOUBLAC, Port-auPrince, Haiti. Photo: Marie Arago

Marie Arago Photographer, Port-auPrince. Photo: Tatiana Mora Liautaud


Bérénice Magistretti Communications & Editorial Manager at Seedstars World, Geneva Photo: Bérénice Magistretti

Brian Omolo Illustrator & Graphic Artist, Nairobi. Photo: Mark Ayabei

Maria Muscalu Costume Designer & Illustrator, Geneva. Photo: Sorin Florea

Justin Henry Hair & Make-up artist, Melbourne. Photo: Tintin Hedberg

Clare Press Fashion Editor-atlarge, Marie Claire Australia, Sydney

Thom Kerr,

Photographer, Sydney/Paris


news at hand



FAS H I ON REVOLU T I O N A RY Orsola de Castro, the co-founder of Fashion Revolution speaks with EFI’s Simone Cipriani about luxury and fast fashion, the curiosity of millennials, and the importance of goodwill.

Orsola de Castro, the co-founder of the Fashion Revolution movement Photo: Tamzin Haughton 18


"It's the biodiversity between luxury and fast fashion that has disappeared"

Simone Cipriani: Who is Orsola de Castro? Orsola de Castro: I started as a professional rubbish collector. That was the origin of what I did: collecting leftovers from luxury manufacturers and mills to produce my collections. For some reason this fascination for upcycling/ recycling and knowing the story of clothes is still what drives me, it is still unravelling. The brand you are talking about, when did it start? Is it still active?

So you would agree that the arrival of fast fashion changed the game of fashion?

It started in 1997, but sadly (and also with huge relief) we put it temporarily on hold in January 2015.

I wouldn’t say it’s only the fault of fast fashion. The luxury sector too is inflating sector prices: this is also a major issue.

On hold because the sector is not ready for such a brand, or because you wanted to devote yourself to other projects?


A combination of both. Actually, I think the sector was far more ready for such a brand 10-15 years ago than now. At the time most terminologies we use now (ethical fashion, upcycling etc) didn’t exist, so what I did, my design method, was simply perceived as original. Precious, almost. Unique. And From Somewhere was really, always, a bit strange: a deliberately small label with lots to say. This led us to some very exciting and very big collaborations, such as From Somewhere with Speedo and Topshop’s Reclaim To Wear, but fundamentally, we were ahead of the times and swimming against the current. Today, with fast fashion and mass-produced luxury, a small and independent brand has less chance of succeeding. Eventually 20

I became fed up designing for compromise and having to make things constantly cheaper. I was creating a brand with a story, and clothes that are beautifully made and carry a story inevitably cost more. Then of course along came Fashion Revolution, and it has kind of taken over my life, in a very good way. So I turned from fashion designer to fashion activist and I am loving this new role.

Because the quality is no longer the same: everything is glossy now, standard, the same. Hand-made, artisanal products do not have the same value anymore. We don’t appreciate the human mistake and don’t know the people who make our clothes. The It-Bag is where we spend our money. Followed by cheap fashion. It’s the biodiversity between luxury and fast fashion that has disappeared. We no longer appreciate the small independent designer that manufactures clothes that are special. It’s either Prada or Primark. And we pay a lot of money for both: fast fashion, because we accumulate garments in quantity, and mass produced luxury because that’s where we misguidedly place our ‘investment’ buy. Over the last 20 years, this culture has obliterated originality, talent, and dignity. It’s not only about the

change in quality but also in the values: we don’t recognise those values in the same way anymore. We don’t look for quality in the products we buy and we don’t expect the people who make them to have quality of life. I think design is about finding solutions, not creating problems. Don’t you think the presence of social media and the new frontiers of the web enable new designers to propose brands directly linked to consumers? I definitely think social media facilitates communication and interactions between designers and their public, but we are not there yet sales wise for new designers. New designers by implication tend to be more experimental, are all about materials, cuts, shapes etc. Online technologies lack the touch and feel effect allowed by trying the clothes on and this creates a blockage. Equally, it takes brand trust to buy online, and many new designers are still growing their customer base. If you look at luxury and e-commerce, the biggest growth right now is in leisure-wear. Why? Because you don’t have to try the clothes on: you know your size and just buy. Same with Denim. However, what social media can do is tell the story of a young, original, new designer, which will stimulate a generation of people who have been less exposed to such creativity. In this sense, social media creates a huge advantage and symbolises a massive opportunity, that of creating connections.





"Our motto is ‘be curious, find out, do something”

What do you think about Millennials? Everyone talks about them and how they will shape the market of the future, but do you think they can really understand quality and value as we got to know it? I think millennials can only take what they were given. If we give them the opportunity to forget what fashion should be like, they will never know. I see them as a generation of curious people, way more than generations before. That curiosity should be fed. Some artisanal skills, like the way in which my grandmother would knit sweaters, are not things that are familiar to them. But this doesn’t mean we can’t teach them again. A generation is never alone. We have the generation before and the one after. This is what makes evolution: the need to learn and improve from the previous one and try to better them one after the other. Millennials will want what they have been shown. It is for us to look at our supply chain, see what we have now and what went missing. This information and knowledge is what should go to the Z generation. You started Fashion Revolution. Why? We started Fashion Revolution in 2013 as a direct consequence of the Rana Plaza disaster. Carry Somers and I, as well as many other people, saw Rana Plaza as a metaphorical call to arms. Many of the people in Fashion Revolution have been involved in Sustainability and Ethics in the fashion industry for a long time. The organisation is new, but the people involved have been fighting this battle for a long time. Fashion Revolution is a creative campaign promoting transparency and re-igniting lost connections throughout the fashion 22

supply chain. By raising awareness of issues such as the Living Wage, or water toxicity, we highlight best practice and celebrate positive change. Our motto is ‘be curious, find out, do something’ and we believe in a fashion industry that values creativity, people, profit and planet in equal measure. Our goal is to improve lives by raising awareness and stimulate change that can effectively promote better buying. We don’t believe in boycotting, we are very much pro-fashion. What we want is to see the industry become a cause for good. We want to see the words “aspiration” and “democratic” used to describe not just the endproduct but the whole supply chain. What are the next steps for Fashion Revolution? There are many. We have been collaborating with the European Union for the European Year of Development and we are taking part in several panel discussions throughout the UK in November. Carry Somers, Fashion Revolution co-founder, will speak in Paris at UNESCO during the Planet Change conference. We are working on a Transparency Index with Ethical Consumer Magazine and various other projects. Then of course we have next year’s campaign: we had 63 million unique users last year, for a total of 124 million impressions on Twitter and Instagram alone, 75 countries taking part with over 300 events globally. It’s grown quite big considering April 2015 was only our second year, and this year we have been working closely with the EU on their Year for International Development 2015, which has been incredibly interesting.

In which country is Fashion Revolution most active? It depends… Last year Australia was very strong. South Africa, Italy and Germany are also among our most active hubs. We also have important hubs in South America. Right now, 45 global hubs are creating regular events, on the actual day and throughout the year. Not all Fashion Revolution hubs are funded so a lot of the results are thanks to the passion of the individuals, our Country Coordinators, who created the hubs. Goodwill can produce phenomenal results. Now a more personal question, you work with your husband, Filippo Ricci on Estethica, the first innovative attempt to introduce ethics into the fashion industry. What can you say about that? Filippo and I have been working together on Estethica, the British Fashion Council’s sustainable area at London Fashion Week from 2006 to 2014. We are now in the process of redesigning it. Estethica was indeed one of the pioneering initiatives that defined the sustainable fashion movement, particularly so in the UK, where it has reached both mainstream and corporate level. However, Estethica was very much about celebrating fashion design and sustainable thinking, and it thrived whilst in this framework - promoting small, pioneering brands. We believe this is still its raison d’être... watch this space. estethica

__________ show your label __________ ask brands who made my clothes?

be curious find out do something

24.04.16 #whomademyclothes? @fash_rev


MAKING A MARK Child Labor Free is an accreditation system developed by two remarkable women in New Zealand and backed by Saatchi and Saatchi and Ernst and Young worldwide which will ensure accreditation for brands that do not use Child labor. Grant Fell outlines the genesis of an idea born in New Zealand with the global welfare of children in mind Earlier this year I met Michelle Pratt and Nikki Prendergast, two positive New Zealand women with hearts worn on sleeves and a proven track record in early childhood education. The pair own and operate the successful “New Shoots” early child care centres in New Zealand but also have extensive credentials in education: Michelle has been a regular lecturer at Auckland University across a range of early childhood education subjects. She is also a frequent contributor to many international journals and magazines on children’s issues and has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies from Melbourne University as well as a postgraduate certificate in future learning from Harvard. Nikki works alongside the NZ Ministry of Education as a specialist consultant for a range of centres across New Zealand, advising on management systems, environmental design, and human resource systems. She has a Diploma in Teaching from Wellington College of Education and is a registered teacher. So between the two there is no shortage of experience in the world of child education and welfare. In June - on the UN International Day Against Child Labor, they launched Child Labor Free (CLF), an international mark that will allow companies across all product categories to have their supply chains independently certified as Child Labor Free. The mark was officially launched at the recent NZ Fashion Week with some of New Zealand’s top designers participating: Zambesi, Kate Sylvester, NOM*D, Stolen Girlfriends Club, Hailwood, and Ruby. The brands have been working as consultants, helping to refine the accreditation system as 24

well as documenting and sharing their journey with the industry and customers along the way. “Becoming accredited will take some time. It’s the beginning of what will likely be a challenging but rewarding journey,“ says Michelle. “Beyond this group, we are currently also in conversation with local and global brands from a broad range of industries including apparel, textiles, furniture, consumables, toys, cleaning products, skincare and automotive. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive interest we’ve received from both New Zealand and major multinationals. It’s clear there is a need out there for this system. We’ll have more news and brand names to announce soon.” Co-founder and Director, Nikki Prendergast explains how the initiative first came about: “Child Labor Free came to life two years ago when we were made aware of something that hit at the heart of our own commercial operation. After attending an early childhood conference, we learned about the prevalence of child labor and its presence in almost every industry, including our own. This led us to the question: ‘How do we know the toys we’re sourcing for children here in New Zealand, haven’t been made by children somewhere else in the world?’ We needed to be able to stand behind our own products and verify our supply chains, but when we went looking for a system to give us that assurance, we couldn’t find it. Given our working lives have been dedicated to the wellbeing of children, this just didn’t feel right to us. So in true intrepid kiwi style, we set about creating the system ourselves which we are making available for any business in New

Zealand, or globally, to provide certainty around their supply chain.” CLF is working with Ernst & Young (EY) who are leading the supply chain analysis component of the accreditation system. CLF will also be collaborating with a range of other accreditation partners in future to continue driving innovation across the accreditation process. Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand has been engaged by CLF since August 2014, providing business strategy, branding and communications consultancy. CLF is also taking expert guidance from child rights organisations on how to provide sustainable alternatives to child labor and to ensure children, families and communities are supported along the way. Dr Amabel Hunting, an expert in consumer behaviour and ethical consumption from Auckland University who led the discussion at the CLF launch said, “While ethical consumers were once considered a niche group, recent research has found an increasing number of consumers across the market are concerned about these issues. This is especially true among the younger generation; they care about how workers are treated and will reward brands that share information on their supply chain. An inability to respond to this issue means businesses will miss out on this future market and potentially alienate their existing customers. There is currently a significant gap between what customers expect and what most businesses are delivering, so I believe this system is well timed to help brands meet this need.” Hear, hear!


M I M CO’S K E NYAN HAN D S First sass & bide, then Karen Walker. Now Mimco is the latest Antipodean brand to embrace ethical production in Africa, writes Clare Press. When Cathryn Wills, creative director of Australian accessories brand Mimco, made her first trip to Kenya in September 2014, she expected the heat and the dust. And she was prepared to see poverty as well as possibility. She’d heard great things about the “strong women transforming their communities” through the Ethical Fashion Initiative. “But no one can prepare you for the warmth of their welcome.” Wills’s trip took her deep into the Kenyan countryside to connect with the Maasai and their tradition of hand-beading, but first she visited the EFI ‘Hub’ (Ethical Fashion Africa) in Nairobi. “I introduced myself, then one of the women started clapping to set the beat, and everyone sang,” she says. “I’ll never forget it. Singing from the heart, a song that has been passed down through the generations, is very emotional.”Wills switched on to the EFI after hearing founder Simone Cipriani speak at the Bespoke conference in Sydney (2013.) “What he said was so impactful,” she explains. “I really believe that giving people work, as opposed to just money, is the way forward. Positive endeavour, learning, getting better at what you’re doing and producing something you can hold up and be proud of, does a lot for self esteem. The most obvious benefits are a living wage, a roof over your head and feeding your family, but there’s 26

something deeper going on here: you’re building something.” Wills relates. “Mimco is a design business. We never just buy a sample and replicate it. Our process is about building an item from the ground up, learning from mistakes to make something real. I felt that was what Simone was talking about too.” While she and her team source materials from all over the world, Mimco manufactures mostly in China. The idea of an ethical, made in Africa capsule was unknown territory for Wills. Could boutique production like this be made to fit into her existing schedule? Would these bags look “Mimco” enough? Would customers love them? The answer was a resounding yes. The first two-piece collection of black and white “Africagraphico” bags sold out last year. A second edition, this time christened “Bohomania”, drops in February as part of Mimco’s 20-year anniversary celebrations. Wills says that while working in Africa has its challenges, the key is to turn them into positives: “Sometimes manufacturing in China can be a bit of a lolly shop - you can literally have anything you want. But I actually like the parameters that come with making in Africa – it pushes you as a designer.” When it came to materials, Wills chose to work with the widely available canvas, which she left undyed. Applying an animal print in a muted shade, she had it cut

into a raw-edged fringe to add texture. For the bags’ linings, she worked with traditional screen printed cotton to inject a shot of joyful colour. “We were inspired by Kenya - the way the women put their colours together, and layer clothing is unique.”The beading came with its own challenges: “We had to really tweak it to make sure it was efficient from a timing point of view for the Maasai women, and keep it true to their style of beading. The truthful and the soulful nature of the product is part of what makes it beautiful. “It takes time to get started, so you have to work together,” she says. “The artisans are fine-tuning their skills as they go. I sat with some of the women as they were sewing our samples, and they were sharing how happy they are to be running this business, and sending their kids to school.” That said, brands must think carefully before committing, she counsels. “Ethical fashion is very topical right now. It would be the wrong thing, but the easiest thing, for businesses to jump into these hubs for one season, then jump onto the next ‘trend’. The point is that we build a sustainable business with these communities.” She’s already planning for next season.

Production of Mimco’s latest Bohomania collection, made by artisans in Kenya. Photo: Louis Nderi


Above: Printed canvas being fringed by hand in Kenya. Right: Screenprinting is the signature skill of the Ethical Fashion Artisans in Nairobi, applied here on Mimco’s Bohomania line. Photo: Louis Nderi 28



AC CESS OR RIZE In a time when the plight of refugees is a global concern, our cover girl Mary Maguet represents a positive refugee story. Mary, of South Sudanese descent, was 2 years old when she arrived in 1990s Auckland, New Zealand with her mother, sister and two brothers from a Kenyan Refugee Camp. They settled with the help of UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the New Zealand Immigration & Labor Departments. Mary was scouted by mother agent Rose Packard-Dube of RPD Models aged 13 at a church, but did not embark on her modelling career until she was 15-years-old. On set for this shoot Mary was drawn to the beaded jewellery of Chan Luu as it reminded her of the beading of her hometown Bor region, an area which suffered terribly during the Second South Sudanese war. Education is a priority for Mary she is in her final year at Massey University in Auckland. Grant Fell finds out more:

Where in the Sudan are you from?


I’m from Bor.

I love it because I’m constantly learning new things about humans and cultures and why we are all so different but the same.It gives me better insight to the friendships I make and places I visit.

You are not the only model in your family. Who else models? My aunty and my cousin. You were two years old when you arrived in New Zealand as a refugee. What have been the challenges and the good things about growing up as a refugee in Aotearoa? Challenges: I don’t think there were many challenges considering that I came here when I was 2, so all I have ever known is New Zealand. A disadvantage is that I’m not surrounded by my extended family or get to see them often.

Photo: Thom Kerr Fashion Editor: Rachael Churchward Hair & Make-up: Justin Henry at Vivien’s Creative, Melbourne Model: Mary Maguet at RPD wears: Ms Crabb singlet and knickers, Stella Jean fer decoupe bangle and fruit bracelet made with artisans in Haiti and a paper-beaded necklace and bracelet by Chan Luu.

Benefits: I guess living in a safer environment. Tell us more about the education you are currently completing? You are studying Social




Floriane de Saint-Pierre, fashion’s top head-hunter who has matched leading designers such as Christopher Bailey, Alber Elbaz and Narciso Rodriguez speaks with EFI’s Simone Cipriani on her impressive career and the new direction of fashion business today. Photo: Julio Piatti Simone Cipriani: How did you start your career? How does one become a headhunter for the fashion industry? Floriane de Saint Pierre: I had dreams, and still do today!, and I was determined to achieve them. One, was to work in fashion, as it was the field that knew how to create sustainable development out of constant disruption and innovation, whilst having to be financially autonomous. At the age of 20, as soon as I graduated from ESSEC (l’Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales), I joined the finance department of Christian Dior Couture, just after the acquisition by Bernard Arnault. It was incredibly exciting, I learnt so much, certainly the best school I could ever dream of. A few years later, I was approached by an Anglo-Saxon executive search firm for a position outside of fashion. I was not interested, they asked me to join the company, and this pivotal decision to leave Dior disappeared when Dior asked me to work on key hires. After six weeks at this executive search firm, I left and started my company with a phone, a few pens and some paper! Headhunting has changed. Today it is about supplying clients with a full rounded HR service and so on. We don’t even call it headhunting anymore. Can you tell us about the evolution of this work? Our role has changed, tremendously, fortunately! Years ago it was hard to know who was doing what where. Now everyone can access this information. Our role is not any more about accessing information, it is to help

our clients stay leaders through effective organisation, design, acquisition of the best talent coming from innovative, best-inclass brands, and not necessarily with a past experience in fashion. I see our role as very simple; to help a brand grow and to make people happy. The principle is simple, but the execution is complex! It requires a combination of observing societal evolution, knowledge, empathy for the brand you advise and of course, intuition. To help a company build a sustainable growth, it’s important to understand and articulate what consumption means today, and what it will mean tomorrow. And then combining this with the knowledge and intuition to identify the talent that shares similar values and mindset. For example, today, designing and producing small leather goods is questionable for the simple reason that sooner or later we will live without banknotes and coins! This will impact many brands. Another example is that brands are now being accessed first through a screen, so do brands have the suitable talent with the leadership in other creative fields than product design? In your opinion, what are the most requested job profiles in this industry today? Brands are social partners. Meaningful and impeccable product is a pre-requisite… a beautiful product with meaningful usage and qualitative and ethical production is the minimum expectation or deliverable. However brands can’t rely anymore on their transactional dimension, they need to address their audience in a genuine, responsive manner with an empathic, holistic

and more profound relationship. As a consequence, we work on strengthening organisations with positions and people that transform brand from a product provider to a social partner, hence, creating and sharing meaningful content. Positions in content creation and allocation are among the most needed in the industry today, as they are positions that strategise and deliver services. From your perspective, how is social media impacting on the labor market? Social and digital have played a wonderful role to empower companies and talent to get together, bringing a much-needed fluidity to the labor market. Brands have strengthened their in-house recruitment teams heavily using social and digital as a new provider of talent acquisition, reducing the need for third parties or for search. This is precisely why, using the same digital and social media resources as our clients, while knowledge of talent being the minimum expectation, our mission is to be authoritative curators of talent to make a brand grow. Digital, through dedicated digital marketplaces, has also provided the possibility for talent to find work in-house, on a part-time basis or from a remote location. Or from home wherever people are based. In the creative field, a few years ago we launched Eyes On Talents, the first online platform connecting innovative brands with the best creative talent across all visual creative disciplines around the world. Its immediate success is attributable to being able to know who these talents are without having to travel by viewing their portfolios online and being able 33

“The news that Parsons has hired Burak Cakmak, as Dean of Fashion, who doesn’t come from academia, but who has a great career in sustainability is just wonderful and very meaningful.”

to contact them directly and instantaneously without third party involvement. Eyes on Talents’ mission is also to give creative talent visibility with brands and the media. In 2015, Eyes on Talents proudly granted two awards and two special mentions to fashion and industrial design talents whose projects had a focus on innovation and/or sustainability. Sustainability is so important to us, Eyes on Talents has a dedicated section on “Ethical Fashion Initiative Designers” and last August, Eyes on Talents had its first Special Mention for Sustainability at Designer’s Nest during the Copenhagen Fashion Week for Domantas Smaizys, who focuses on Sustainable Fashion Design at the Copenhagen School of Design & Technology. What new skills and capacities does this industry require and how will they evolve in the future? Creative leadership will remain key. However, innovation and sustainability shall and will become key, so talent with such skills will be needed. I am also convinced that brands will need to strengthen their organisation in innovation as well as in all creative fields surrounding product. As brands are becoming social partners, both the digital and physical, the ‘phygital’, experience must interact with the audience in a seamless manner, with empathy and individuality. Is it still an industry worth approaching, for a young person? Do you want me to answer this question? Without a doubt! What an exciting time for new graduates to be part of the evolution of


fashion. This is a time where tech is of the upmost importance and designers’ natural ease with the phygital world, passion for our planet and expectations for experiences are changing societal norms and consumption…. What is your suggestion for a young person who wants to approach this industry? I would recommend to start in a disruptive manner, to start with a digital pure player. This is certainly the most sophisticated way to learn about merchandising and interacting with a highly educated fashion audience. Or to start with innovators, disrupters. For example, I am amazed by brands such as Warby Parker! I would also recommend to look at brands that have the same audience as fashion. Brands like Apple, or services such as Airbnb and Uber. Fashion will need such profiles, and already does. The role of fashion schools and of colleges: doesn’t it need to evolve a bit? Many new designers hardly know the real business dimension of their work or about what makes it sustainable. Shouldn’t they be made more aware of the issues of the business of today? The news that Parsons has hired Burak Cakmak, as Dean of Fashion, who doesn’t come from academia, but who has a great career in sustainability is just wonderful and very meaningful. Creativity is key but without an understanding of societal usage, it is useless. Fashion without usage is an aesthetic waste and no business skills can do anything for that. Therefore, I am not sure creatives need to be

taught that much about business, as when you are a creative mind, your creativity shall apply not only to products, but to business paradigms as well. We need strong creative leaders, who are on the pulse of the zeitgeist, who act as creative catalysts of societal innovation, who challenge current usage to invent new usage while bringing a strong aesthetic component. Such creative leaders are successful and then it is easy to get the best leaders to operate and leverage success. If you started today, would you still develop your career in connection with this industry? In fact, my dream to work in fashion would take a different shape! I was fascinated by fashion, because as I said earlier, it was the industry which was at the time the most connected with the zeitgeist, with a high degree of innovation and business drive. Today, I would certainly find the same components in consumer facing connected technology. And I am very happy that such industry now hires top leaders from fashion, as Apple does! I am now interested in the audience, who are very sensitive to aesthetic, sustainability and integrity. Any product or service that has such audience interests me!


At HAFDE Tannery in Addis Ababa Photo: Louis Nderi


FOR EVE R L E AT H E R At the beginning of 2015 the EFI started working in Ethiopia with HAFDE, a leather tannery producing leather shoes and bags. ChloĂŠ Mukai interviews Hussein Feyssa Degaga, the man behind one of the most progressive and innovative tanneries in Africa.


Italian-made tanning drums at HAFDE are connected to pipes recycling used water and recovering the chrome Photo: Louis Nderi Hussein Degaga, how did you get into the leather business? I run HAFDE, a sustainable leather tannery in Addis. I started in the leather business by helping to set up this tannery back in 1995. The construction took five years and we started operating in January 1999. I graduated from Eastern Michigan University where I studied the Science in Polymers and Coatings. It was a very natural progression to move into the leather business after returning from the USA. What keeps you interested, even twenty years later? Leather processing is a fascinating field because there is a constant need to develop innovative solutions to daily challenges. To me, doing this while using raw materials from Ethiopia makes it more interesting. Each skin and hide is different, yet our task is to make them as similar as possible. It’s tough at times, but I think we are successful at our job. I also enjoy the fact there is room for 38

innovation in our tannery. Whether it’s on the creation of new products or in the way we process leather, we are always trying to find new processes to improve ourselves. Not to mention that I am naturally passionate about handling high quality materials and the manufacturing process. What do you produce in the tannery? The tannery initially focused on primary products such as pickled and wet blue. Later, we started manufacturing finished leather and initiated a bag-making unit. More recently, we got into shoe production for export and exportoriented markets. Today we produce shoes, bags, gloves and garments using sheep, goat and cow leathers and we also produce camel and crocodile leathers. The tannery has many departments and subdivisions including production, human resources, maintenance, sales & export… In total about 300 people work here. Is there something special about

leather in Ethiopia? What are its key characteristics? Ethiopian leathers, especially sheep and goat, have unique characters. They are ideal for high-quality garment production as generally their fibre structure is compact. The Ethiopian highland selale hair sheep leather is well known in the world for its fine nape, high performance yet light and silky touch. It’s a premium choice for the production of gloves, bags, shoes and top fashion garments. When it comes to goat, the Ethiopian bati genuine goat is known for its flowing fine compact nape and light suede and smooth touch. This one is good for garments, shoes and gloves, while the grain lends itself to the application of glazed leathers. Interestingly, our cows have a fine nape and a very tough skin. You are very proud of your effluent treatment system; can you describe it? What other waste-management systems have you put into place?

Hussein's blue lab coat is his usual work attire Photo: Louis Nderi


In search of new ideas and production techniques, Camper creates a capsule collection from Africa together with EFI. Using artisan techniques and contrasting materials, the result is a very special collection exclusively developed for the Camper & Vitra pop-up store: a temporary store designed by the architect Francis Keré and connected to the major exhibition by the Vitra Design Museum “Making Africa - A Continent of Contemporary Design”.

Our effluent treatment system encompasses all phases of the manufacturing process. We prevent waste from being generated by following cleaner production methods while at the same time controlling our input materials. The tannery has an end-of-pipe treatment, which acts as an accelerated aeration system. We recycle toxic components such as chrome and sour waters where possible and return them into the leather treatment process using vacuum dryers. We also recycle used waters from vacuum dryers that are returned and used for leather processing. After the end of waste treatment, the final treated water has a neutral pH with values between 6.5 to 7.5. Is running a more sustainable tannery more costly? If so, what are 40

the advantages and why did you choose this road? Running a sustainable tannery is costly at the beginning because it affects one’s price competitiveness. However, in the long term there are many tangible benefits. First, running a sustainable business allows us to realise that as humans, we all have an impact on the direct environment we live and evolve in. It enables us to fulfil our responsibility to care for the environment and reduce our ecological footprint. Then, I truly believe that a sustainable tannery, in a fair and competitive environment, is more reliable and likely to survive in today’s fastpaced business environment. We feel the tanning industry overall should transform itself into a more ecological industry. This is hard,

but it is achievable with partners who share the same vision of sustainability. How do you keep yourself informed on these sustainable leatherprocessing practices? Do you learn from other places, or do you invent some of your methods? I have a background in chemistry. Since I started in the leather industry, I got to know other chemists and technologists who have ground-breaking ideas and skills. Unfortunately, these individuals neither had people who listened to their ideas nor the persistence to put them into practice. Therefore, when I saw a small window of opportunity to experiment their ideas, I tried to use all physical and technical means in my possession to turn them into

Hides drying on mobile rails in HAFDE photo: Louis Nderi

reality. I worked with patience until we could achieve concrete results. I have always been very interested in discovery and I enjoy reading technical books and more recently, browsing the Internet. I am also blessed to be able to see things from a different perspective and hold the belief that there are simple solutions to almost any physical problems as long as we think outside the box. What is your vision for your business in five years? In five years I hope our company will provide fair and dignified jobs to over 2000 unemployed people, two thirds of which will be women. We aim for sales to reach over USD30 million per year. I want HAFDE to be known as one of the few tanneries in the world

that uses environmentally-friendly production processes, recycles and reuses nearly all its products. Africa is sometimes seen as an unreliable place to produce fashion. What do you think is needed to change this perception? Africa still has plenty of skills and materials that could be a source of inspiration to modern fashion and designers. The fashion world should give Africa a chance. Not only do we have a rich history and culture but some companies – and my tannery is one of many examples – have environmentallyfriendly and sustainable production systems which are comparable to companies located in Italy for instance. All we need is for the world to give us a fair chance and trust us.

What is your favourite leather? My favourite leather is a chromefree leather. Even though we have not been producing them in bulk for long we have been researching and developing this leather for a while. I am sure it will become more popular in the coming years as the world is moving to sustainable and greener technologies.


design for life



B EAT OF AFR I CA In the last few years, the fashion world has noticed many new talented fashion designers arriving into the international scene with their own interpretation of contemporary African creativity. MsK, the talented blogger behind African Prints in Fashion interviews some of the most promising designers from the continent.


MaXhosa by Laduma Summer 2016 Photo: Justin Polkey 45

1981 Spring/Summer 2014 Photo: Livio Bez 46

19 81 by Nana K. Brenu

“African design in a modern context”

Where are you from? Nana: I am a Ghanaian-born designer residing in Milan, Italy. What is your professional background? I have been a fashion designer ever since I graduated from design school. Why did you become a designer? I became a designer because it was something I discovered I was very good at and it was an outlet for me to express myself creatively. What inspires you? I am inspired by modern architecture and design and African art, history and culture. Complete this sentence: African Fashion is…

A visual interpretation of African culture and art and the vibrancy of its people. A statement that expresses you or your brand. Contrast of ideas and philosophies living in equilibrium, interpreted in a modern context. What makes your brand unique? The uniqueness of my brand can be contributed to the fact that it portrays African design in a modern context - borrowing from my African background and Western training and education. Your vision for your brand? I want to find more buyers and have a streamlined production process. I see myself branching into accessories and probably

a second line with menswear on the horizon. I see the brand being more accessible across the continent of Africa and gaining traction in the foreign markets. How should customers feel when putting on your designs? Elegant, timeless, bold, powerful, carefree, sophisticated, chic, fearless, unique. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? I design almost everything with the exception of the samples which are made by a sample-maker but I have the last say as to the final design. The prints are designed by print and textile designers with whom I collaborate.


FOMI Spring/Summer 2015 Photo: Nick Breton 48

F OM I by Afomia Tesfaye “I hope my customers feel stylish, original and good – as everything is made ethically in Ethiopia.”

Where are you from? Afomia: I am from Ethiopia. I currently split my time equally between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (where my production is based) and Los Angeles, California (where my US office is based). What is your professional background? Prior to starting my company, I worked in fashion marketing and public relations for several years for a number of clothing brands. Why did you become a designer?

cities that tremendously inspire my work! Los Angeles is a wonderful, diverse center for creativity. In Ethiopia, I find the way that people dress and adorn themselves with fabric, color, and jewellery all very inspiring. Complete this sentence: African Fashion is… Dynamic! Designers of African descent, like Stella Jean (Haiti) and Duro Olowu (Nigeria) are internationally recognised and appreciated. They both infuse their work with a lot of cultural influence, but in very inspiring modern ways.

My objective was always to eventually develop a creative business of my own. When I travelled to Ethiopia in 2011 and discovered the quality of the leather, the idea sparked to develop a women’s accessories brand. Ethiopia produces some of the highest quality leather in the world, so I feel really fortunate to be able to work with such refined raw materials.

A statement that expresses you or your brand.

What inspires you?

My aesthetic leans towards a classic handbag silhouette, but there is always some kind of funky

I am lucky to live between two

I have always thought of accessories as the exclamation point of a woman’s outfit. My intention with FOMI is to create accessories that enable the wearer to express her personal style in the most original way. What makes your brand unique?

twist in the design somewhere. I do not like to use a lot of zippers or metal hardware on the bags; instead I want to showcase the beauty and quality of the Ethiopian leather itself. How should customers feel when putting on your designs? My wish is always for the FOMI customer to feel stylish and original wearing one of my designs. I also hope that they walk away feeling good about the fact that it was ethically made in Ethiopia. People are usually surprised when they open a FOMI bag and see a ‘Made in Ethiopia’ label. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? I take pride in that fact that my FOMI bags are handmade, so there are always the ‘hands’ of many talented, skilled artisans that have put their effort and attention into making each item as beautiful as it can be.


Mimi Plange Spring/Summer 2015 Photo: Tatijana Shoan 50

M I M I PLAN G E by Mimi Plange “Designing for bodies, personalities and dreams. Our clothing is thoughtful, modern and elegant”

Where are you from?

What inspires you?

Mimi: I was born in Accra, Ghana and now live in New York.

I am inspired by the beauty and the craftsmanship of lost African Civilisations and the desires of a Modern World.

What is your professional background? I worked in the fashion industry in New York for over 11 years before launching Mimi Plange. I started as a Merchandiser, then moved on to Assistant Designer and eventually worked up to Creative Director. Why did you become a designer? I loved art, fashion and music from a very young age. My mother used to share her old photographs of 50s and 60s Ghana with me when I was very little. The beautiful garments I saw in those pictures introduced me to fashion. I would watch fashion shows with her in my early teens and remember at age 12, seeing a Valentino show, and something just clicked. I knew right then and there, I wanted to become a designer. I felt a connection to the idea and craft of designing for bodies, personalities and dreams.

Complete this sentence: African Fashion is... Untapped.

I see us competing on a global scale online and on mobile shopping. I see an increase in brand awareness and growth through additional product categories such as handbags and accessories. How should customers feel when putting on your designs?

A statement that expresses you or your brand.

Comfortable, complimented, modern, sophisticated, excited and beyond satisfied, confident.

Pioneering a new vision of lost African Civilisations in the Modern World.

“The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process?

What makes your brand unique?

A small team of artisans and skilled workers from New York City’s garment district and of course my own hands lead to the fine details and making of our garments. We make and produce all of our products in New York and in the future we plan to produce locally in small communities around the world.

There is a clear point of view and vision behind every item that is steeped in traditional Africa and today’s global world. Our clothing is thoughtful, modern and elegant. We are showing Africaninspired fashion in an entirely new way, involving deep research and forward thinking. Your vision for your brand?


Sindiso Khumalo Spring/Summer 2013 Photo: Brett Rubin & Nicole Van Heerden 52

SINDISO K H U MALO “Not just a fashion brand, but also an empowering agent”

Where are you from?


Sindoso: I am from Durban, South Africa and currently live in Hackney, London.

A statement that expresses you or your brand.

What is your professional background? I am a textile designer; I received an MA in Design for Textile Futures at Central St Martins. Prior to that, I studied architecture at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Why did you become a designer? Design is both creative and functional. It’s not just about making beautiful objects, but about thinking critically about those objects in the world and the implications of their lifecycle on the world we live in. What inspires you? Architecture, space and my Zulu heritage. Complete this sentence: African Fashion is…

A rich multi-layering of Bauhaus, Art Deco and Ndebele references on a womenswear brand. What makes your brand unique? We are a textile-led design label with all our manufacturing based in South Africa. Our prints are our unique selling point, but also we believe in promoting sustainable practices in our company. My goal for my label is not just a fashion brand, but also for it to be an empowering agent in formerly marginalised parts of Africa. As a brand, we aim to develop more sustainable practices and creating value in my supply chain, hence I am involved with NGO’s in the production of some of my products and have my entire production cycle based in South Africa. Your vision for your brand? Creating a sustainable African textile company, and diversifying

into menswear and home ware markets. I would like to really push my growth this year and see myself in more boutiques and department stores and also retailing online on my website. How should customers feel when putting on your designs? Optimistic. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? Working with an NGO from Kwazulu Natal, we’ve made a series of textiles by collaborating with an amazing craftswoman, Bertina Khumalo. This collaboration has meant her “hand” is not purely focused on a tourism market, but moves into a new luxury fashion market. I also have all my screen printing done by hand in Maitland, Cape Town and the “hands” of my super seamstresses, Shanaaz, Quanita and Angela who turn my designs into reality.


Loza MalĂŠombho Spring/Summer 2015 Photo: Daniel Sery 54

LOZA MALÉOM B H O “B order line between African traditions and modernity”

Where are you from?

pursue this career.

Loza: I was born in Brazil but grew up between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. I currently reside in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for the most part of the year. Other times I stay in New York City.

What inspires you?

What is your professional background? I worked as a Department Head for Michael Kors at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street in New York, prior to that I worked at Diesel and ZARA. Why did you become a designer? I thought the clothes that were sold in stores didn’t represent my culture in the way that I wished to see it represented. I am also a passionate for traditions and paradoxically also passionate for trends and modernity, the combination of the two and the lack of this representation in retail is really what encouraged me to

African tribes’ aesthetics often command my interest. I have a slight obsession with anything tribal and always wonder how to communicate these aesthetics or meanings with the modern woman. Complete this sentence: African Fashion... growing. Share a quote that expresses you or your brand. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt What makes your brand unique? Loza Maléombho is the borderline between African traditions and modernity.

Ultimately I’d like to design men, kids and furniture. I’d like for Loza Maléombho to become a lifestyle brand. How should customers feel when putting on your designs? My design aim is to empower the modern woman with statement pieces that push the limits of conformity. My customers should feel confident, elegant and culturally aware. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? I sketch the designs and create the patterns and work with two head tailors that then train a team of freelance seamstresses. I also work with local artisans on shoes and accessories.

Your vision for your brand?


Galago shoes Photo: Chris Saunders 56

GALAG O by Adhiambo Mula Lauwers “Life is too short to commit to one shoe”

Where are you from? Adhiambo: I am originally from Kenya and have lived in South Africa for 15 years. What is your professional background? I am a serial entrepreneur at heart. I started off as model, and slowly worked my way in the industry from model booker to fashion show producer. As a show producer I had the privilege of running many successful productions at SA Fashion Week & Africa Fashion Week, as well as numerous other fashion events in South Africa, Swaziland and Nigeria. I hold a Bachelor of Business administration degree and maintain ongoing networks in the local fashion industry. Why did you become a designer? To do things a little differently. Mass customisation is the future. The sandals I make allow one to

customizing fashion as the sandals are modular and interchangeable. What inspires you? Africa, our continent, our people, our quirkiness and tenacity. Complete this sentence: African Fashion is... Vibrant and bold. Share a statement that expresses you or your brand. “Life is too short to commit to one shoe.” What makes your brand unique? It was born out of a series of trial and error, learning from my past experiences as a businesswoman, driven by my passion of all things local. Your vision for your brand?

footwear collaborative. I want to work more with skilled artisans and incorporate their workmanship into my footwear to make contemporary African footwear. How should customers feel when putting on your designs? Proud, special. As the concept of my sandals is around customisability, my customers get to mix and match their own unique color combinations. It becomes a piece of their handprint. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? I have amazing people who work with me, hands that have shared my journey and who’ s input I value for the organic growth of the brand.

To be one of the leading African


KibonenNY Autumn/Winter 2015 Photo: Eniko Szucks 58

K I B ON E N NY by Kibonen Nfi “The journey of this brand symbolizes strength and resilience”

Where are you from? Kibonen: I am from Bamenda in Cameroon and I reside in New York City. What is your professional background? A certified Image Consultant with a degree in Fashion Design. Creative Director for KibonenNY, Co-founder of Cameroon Fashion Association of America and founder of “Made in Camer” apparel production factory in Cameroon. Donna Karan Atelier - Celebrity Dress design division intern and LVMH internship inductee. I showcased a collection at the Art Institutes Mercedes Benz Fashion Week New York at Lincoln Center, SS15. Why did you become a designer? I got into designing by chance. I wanted to represent myself as an authentic African in NYC and started making modern version of the traditional regalia worn by the people of my hometown. Once I realized this is something I really loved, I got excessively excited when I figured I could change a lot about the world through fashion. Besides designing beautiful clothes and getting the

most amazing people to wear them, I could use the medium to inspire others, to empower others, to be socially responsible.

cultures. The organic growth of my brand and strength in the face of adversity while growing this brand has been phenomenal.

What inspires your designs?

Your vision for your brand?

My original inspirations came from the “Toghu”, an intricate and colorful embroidery made with wool on the garments worn by the royalty and on special occasions by the Tikar and Bamileke people of the North West Region of Cameroon. I also get inspired by cultures of other parts of the world. Nature relaxes me and brings out my deepest inspirations. Zaha Hadid’s architecture inspires me too.

In five years I would like to be selling in several department stores and boutiques around the world, be featured in top magazines, dressing influential people and running a manufacturing plant out of Cameroon, which hires up to three hundred people.

Complete this sentence: African Fashion... going to help a great deal to alleviate poverty in Africa. Share a quote that expresses you or your brand. “There is no beauty in the finest clothes if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” - Mahatma Gandhi What makes your brand unique? My brand believes deeply in social responsibility and the confluence of

How should customers feel when putting on your designs? Joyful, authentic and strong as the journey of this brand symbolises strength and resilience. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? My designs are created by the independent pattern makers and seamstresses in New York City’s garment district and also by the women who work in the “Made in Camer” apparel production factory in my hometown in Bamenda, Cameroon.


CHiCHia Autumn/Winter 2015 Photo: Kerry Glanfield 60

CH ICH IA LO N D O N by Christine Mhando “East Africa Meets London Cool”

Where are you from? Christine: I am originally from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and grew up in London where I still reside. What is your professional background? Fashion design. I have a degree in fashion design and have worked in the industry since graduating.

Multi-faceted and rapidly growing. It’s not just about using traditional prints, there are so many stories being told by designers from all corners of the continent. To me there is honestly nothing more exciting. Share a statement that expresses you or your brand. East Africa Meets London Cool.

Why did you become a designer?

What makes your brand unique?

I have loved clothes and fashion for as long as I can remember. There is nothing else I ever wanted to do.

The CHiCHia brand concept is very personal to me as a designer. I think people value authenticity over anything.

What inspires you? People watching (London is the best for this), travel... A great print can trigger countless ideas. Complete this sentence: African Fashion is...

Your vision for your brand? I hope to be collaborating with more established brands and have the label stocked in department stores around the globe.

How should customers feel when putting on your designs? Fearless! “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? The concept is usually thought up by myself as well as the designs. I collaborate with print designers who work alongside me to come up with patterns for whatever specific theme is that season. For our AW15/16 collection we worked with several artisans ranging from hand beaders, weavers, screen printers - all based in Tanzania to put together the collection.


Taibo Bacar Spring/Summer 2015 Photo: Kyle Boshoff 62

TAI B O BACAR “From Africa to the World. A touch of African tradition”

Where are you from? Taibo: Mozambique. What is your professional background? Fashion. Why did you become a designer? Because of my passion for feminine beauty. What inspires you? My everyday life.

Complete this sentence: African Fashion is... Amazing. Share a statement that expresses you or your brand. “Taibo Bacar, from Africa to the World.” What makes your brand unique? We blend high fashion and ready to wear with a touch of African tradition. Your vision for your brand?

Exploring other areas of design and having the ready to wear collection selling everywhere. How should customers feel when putting on your designs? Elegant, confident, amazing. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? Everyone in our team participates in the process.


Projecto Mental Spring/Summer 2016 Photo: Pitti Immagine & Vanni Bassetti 64

PR OJ E CTO M E NTAL by Shunnoz Fiel and Tekasala Ma’at Nzinga “Avant-garde African creativity. We don’t follow trends. We prefer to be trendsetters”

Where are you from?

Fashion is…

Shunnoz & Tekasala: We are from and currently reside in Angola.

Fundamental and part of our daily existence. African Fashion is a channel of communication, where our environment, art, experiences, history, future, culture and spirituality are expressed and affirmed.

What is your professional background? Not fashion related - academically nor professionally.

We are looking for financial backers to help us push the brand a place and level we feel the brand deserves to be: well established in Africa and the main international markets. How should customers feel when putting on your designs?

A statement that expresses you or your brand.

Unique. Class apart. Sense of being Alive. Fashionable.

We are and were in arts (music, poetry, spoken word, literature..... not professionally) before doing fashion. Fashion became an extension of our artistic lives.

Avant-garde African creativity, applied to European fashion concepts.

“The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process?

What makes your brand unique?

What inspires you?

Our designs are very unique. We don’t follow trends. We prefer to be trendsetters.

We, the designers, handle the designs, the concepts and all the creative aspects.Patternmaking and the manufacturing process are handled by other people.

Your vision for your brand?

Why did you become a designer?

God. Nature. Africa. Our experiences. Complete this sentence: African


Orange Culture Spring/Summer 2016 Photo: Pitti Immagine & Vanni Bassetti 66

ORANGE CU LTU R E by Adebayo Oke-Lawal “Africa through the eyes of a modern day African man”

Where are you from? Adebayo: I am Nigerian and I live in-between Lagos and London. What is your professional background? I am a self-taught designer, my educational background surprisingly enough is in finance. Why did you become a designer? It’s the only way I know how to speak. It’s my only outlet vocally and emotionally. Designing has been my passion since I was little and drawing in all my schoolbooks at 10. What inspires you? My life and its many colorful experiences culturally and developmentally as a Nigerian.

Diversity inspires me and the idea of masculinity in modern day Africa. Complete this sentence: African Fashion is... The artistic pride of the continent. It is creating a different idea of what Africa really is about. A statement that expresses you or your brand. Clothes that tell a unique story about Africa through the eyes of a modern day African man. What makes your brand unique? It’s the idea that my experiences are so unique and creating clothes for me is so personal and emotional that it makes the clothes very different.

Your vision for your brand? Attending an international fashion week and being stocked in new continents and having my clothing worn by people I’ve never met but who are connected to me through my designs. How should customers feel when putting on your designs? Bold and Enriched - they are wearing interesting stories. “The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process? Mine for starters and my amazing team of tailors homegrown and constantly growing in skill.


MaXhosa by Laduma Spring/Summer 2015 Photo: Simon Deiner 68

MAX H OSA by Laduma Ngxokolo “My heritage, my inheritance”

Where are you from? Laduma: I am from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, currently residing in London, UK. What is your professional background? My professional background is textile design, although I formally started with textiles, I had great passion for fashion design. Why did you become a designer? I first foremost have great passion for design, my late mother was a knitwear designer in the 80’s and my grandfather was a painter and sculptor - these influences are what drew me to the decision of becoming a designer. What inspires you? My Xhosa heritage inspires me a

lot; I love everything about it, from the traditional aesthetics, the food, cultural value etc. Complete this sentence: African Fashion is… Rich, authentic and draws inspiration from the multiple cultures it has and continues to inspire fashion trends globally.

I envision myself in five years time elevating MAXHOSA BY LADUMA as one of the most successful African fashion brands and securing a sizable market share in the global fashion market and establishing flagship boutiques in some of the fashion capitals around the world. How should customers feel when putting on your designs?

Share a statement that expresses you or your brand.

Ecstatic, confident, unique, proud and honored.

“My heritage, my inheritance.”

”The Hand of Fashion” - who’s hands are involved in your design process?

What makes your brand unique? The distinctive patterns, profound story behind the brand, lastly, the durable and comfortable wool and mohair blend I use to make the knitwear. Your vision for your brand?

I create the designs myself, sometime with the help of my sister Tina Ngxokolo, who is also a fashion designer.



Right: Tekasala Ma’at Nzinga, Adebayo Oke-Lawal, Alexis Temomanin and Laduma Ngxokolo at Pitti Uomo 88 Photo: Trevor Stuurman Bottom left: Laduma Ngxokolo making the finishing touches on his look. Photo: Pitti Immagine & Vanni Bassetti Bottom Right: Dent de Man Spring/ Summer 2016 look backstage. Photo: Pitti Immagine & Vanni Bassetti

During the 88th edition of Pitti Uomo, Angola, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Africa unexpectedly stole the show with four collections designed by Projecto Mental, Dent de Man, Orange Culture and MaXhosa by Laduma. The designers, selected by the Ethical Fashion Initiative, wowed the Italian and international crowd at the Constellation Africa show with their different visions of men’s fashion. Each collection dispelled the traditional stereotypes associated with fashion from the African continent – no generic “tribal” references but just fresh and contemporary designs. In doing so, the designers initiated a new conversation about Africa, and made their mark within the fashion industry. The MaXhosa by Laduma knitwear was visually enticing with its strong black graphics softened with Laduma Ngxokolo’s choice 70

of colour and you left the show feeling the collection was a musthave in your wardrobe. Projecto Mental proposed suits that tastefully combined different fabrics and were cinched at the waist with pink ribbon. Dent de Man sent out hypnotic and expertly tailored suits made with Vlisco fabric and gave a streetwear touch to the collection with a fun African mask print. Orange Culture brought us to the Nigerian shore with fishermen inspired draped capes, boxy embroidered organza t-shirts and revived flare trousers for men. As a backdrop to the catwalk, the Bologna based artist collective Antonello Ghezzi created a sky of stars as it would have been seen from their country. These star maps suggested the unifying human act of gazing up to the sky in search for inspiration, peace, love, meaning... Looking up to a sky full of stars we can share the same moment

and the same view as another and understand that we all live under the same sky. The sky is not segregated by man-made fences, boundaries or flags but is endless. Looking up at the stars one can travel, hope, dream and feel part of a wider space and reach out to the world. The world is our space, wherever we are in Italy, the Ivory Coast, South Africa, Nigeria or Angola.



Models wearing Dent de Man Spring/Summer 2016 backstage at Pitti Uomo Photo: Pitti Immagine & Vanni Bassetti

Projecto Mental pink and green suit from their Spring/Summer 2016 collection Photo: Pitti Immagine & Vanni Bassetti



Starmap of Florence from the evening of the 18th of June 2015 created by the Italian artist collective, Antonello Ghezzi

T +39 055 36931

design Laboratorium



TH E MAG IC MÉTI SSAG E TH E KEY TO STE LLA J EAN’S SUCCESS BY BÉRÉN ICE MAG I STR ETTI In today’s globalised world, where cultures cross over and mix, it is difficult not to be influenced by the eclectic diversity that surrounds us. Fashion is one of the many industries that plays around with this by transposing it into visual wonders. One designer in particular has managed to translate this multicultural vibe into her clothes: Stella Jean. Born from a Haitian mother and an Italian father, Stella combines Haitian ethnicity with Italian modernity, allowing both cultures to co-exist through her designs without one taking over. The designer is not a pioneer in this respect, but she is part of a new school of designers that seek to create fashion in a more ethical and sustainable way. Her work with the Ethical Fashion Initiative has allowed her to broaden her style by including the artisanal works of African women (Burkina Faso and Mali). So what is the key to her success? One word: Métissage. Originally, métissage means a mix of culture and heritage, which not only defines who Stella is as a person, but also defines her work. “The term métissage perfectly describes my brand. If we can mix in a single outfit elements coming from the most distant and different cultures of the world, then we can definitely embrace this juxtaposition of cultures in real

life” explains the designer. This is almost a humanitarian message of peace, which comes to no surprise, as Stella is involved in many Haitian and African projects led by the Ethical Fashion Initiative. When asked whether ethical fashion is becoming a thing, Stella replies cautiously, saying that it will not be an easy or a quick transition, but every person is increasingly becoming aware that a change is needed. And Stella is definitely not exempting herself. Not only does she stand out by selling ethically sourced products, but she also stands out through her original, psychedelic designs. Between patchworks, superpositions, trompe-l’oeil and cosmic colours, her style is unique. And by mixing ethnicity with modernity, old with new and male with female, Stella revitalises fashion by creating genuine concoctions. This year, the Italo-Haitian designer has set her heart on the Indian Himalayas for the Autumn/Winter 15-16 collections. The theme? Stylistic disobedience. “This irreverence is the starting point of looks where the woman seizes, interprets and usurps moments of masculine routine … This ignites an invasive encounter between genders, with extremely

feminine shapes espousing and overlapping with potent masculine forms … The encounter is direct, even violent - any attempt to achieve compromise and find middle ground is annihilated as the extreme SHE opposes the extreme HE. This isn’t an identity game, but the awareness of the changeable nature of things.” This official description of the designer’s counter-colonisation collection underlines the key component of Stella’s work: there are no boundaries in this world. And using ethical fashion to spread this idea is one of the smartest moves yet. 5 Questions for Stella What is your favourite city? Rome. Favourite colour? Violet. Favourite season? Spring. Favourite material/textile? Cotton and silk. Favourite designer, past or present? Dries van Noten.

Opposite: Stella Jean clutches made with ‘fer découpé’ pieces inspired by India, assembled in Italy Photo: Ludovica Arcero 77

Stella Jean working with a painter in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for her Spring/Summer 2016 collection. Photo: Marie Arago


(Quote from Stella’s AW15-16 Collection)

“When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other to cover that great distance. What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either non-existent or very small…” The saint continued, “When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.” He looked at his disciples and said. “So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.” 78

Stella Jean SS15 inspired by Haiti, featuring shorts and bag made from danfani fabric handwoven in Burkina Faso Photo: Stefano Guindani 79

RETURN TO BAMA Photography: Anne Mimault Fashion Editor: Rachael Churchward: Producer: Chloé Mukai Tailor: Mme Thérèse Models: Arouna, Sibiri, Bruno, Madou, David, and Siaka



In February 2015, Grant Fell & Rachael Churchward travelled to Burkina Faso with the Ethical Fashion Initiative to discover the art of hand-weaving cotton fabric. The trip was a unique opportunity to shoot a fashion editorial featuring the people at the beginning of the fashion supply chain: farmers. This fashion shoot cast cotton farmers that sow and harvest cotton which is then transformed by the women spinners and weavers of Burkina Faso into the traditional striped danfani fabric. Cotton farmers in Burkina Faso wear the end result of their days spent toiling in the fields. The team of Black Magazine joined the Ethical Fashion Initiative in Burkina Faso to shoot Stella Jean and TĂˆGĂŠ United Arrows clothing made with hand-woven cotton picked in the fields of these farmers, closing the cycle of fashion and celebrating the makers of fashion which are often forgotten.


Arouna wears: Stella Jean jacket and belt from her AW 2015 collection. The belt is made with hand-woven cotton fabric from Burkina Faso. United Arrows TÉGÊ trousers made with hand-woven cotton fabric from


Sibiri wears: Chocolate brown and royal blue checkered Stella Jean suit made with fabric hand-woven by women artisans in Burkina Faso. Sandals, Sibiri’s own.




Bruno wears: Stella Jean AW 2015 barbershop coat and checkered trousers. The trousers are made with hand-woven cotton fabric from Burkina Faso. Shoes, Bruno’s own.



Madou wears: United Arrows TÉGÊ waistcoat, jacket and trousers made with hand-woven cotton fabric from Burkina Faso. Sandals, Madou’s own.


David wears: Stella Jean SS 2015 jacket made with hand-woven fabric from Burkina Faso. Above: Camper shoes made by EFI artisans in Ethiopia



Siaka wears: United Arrows TÉGÊ jacket made with hand-woven cotton from Burkina Faso and Stella Jean AW 2015 trousers. Shoes, model’s own. Above: United Arrows TÉGÊ beaded clutch bag made by artisans in Kenya.




Sibiri wears: Stella Jean SS 2014 shorts and AW2015 belt, both made with hand-woven cotton fabric from Burkina Faso. Sandals, Sibiri’s own.

Madou wears: United Arrows TÉGÊ jacket and Stella Jean AW 2015 trousers. Both items are made with fabric hand-woven in Burkina Faso. Sandals, Madou’s own.



Arouna wears: United Arrows TÉGÊ suit and bag. The suit is made with hand-woven fabric from Burkina Faso. The bag is screen-printed, beaded and made by artisans in Kenya. Shoes, Arouna’s own.



This Page: KAREN WALKER ‘Hiding Cat’ tote, hand-screen printed canvas and leather handles. Opposite Page: VIVIENNE WESTWOOD leopard print holdall, hand-screen printed canvas and brass orb made from recycled metal.

O R G A N I C O ACCE S S OR I O! Photography and post production: Nina Van Lier Styling/creative direction: Rachael Churchward



CARMINA CAMPUS ‘Victor’ patchwork bag, printed up-cycled canvas, leather sample swatches and end-of-line nylon straps.

UNITED ARROWS TÉGÊ pouch, hand-beaded detailing and upcycled offcut material. 101

MIMCO ‘Afrographico’ pouch, hand-beaded detailing and screen-printed tassle. 102

STELLA JEAN ‘Doctor’ bag, hand-woven cotton danfani and Italian leather. 103

fashion at work




Boss lady at the ITC EFI’s main weaving hub in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Madame Mariam Maiga talks through her Weaving Dream “Femmes Zoodo” with Chloé Mukai Chloé: What is your name, date and place of birth? My name is Mariam Maiga. I was born in 1955 in Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso. When and how did you get involved with the Association Zoodo pour la Promotion de la Femme (AZPF)? I started the weaving association, AZPF back in August 2013 and at the time the atelier was located in Baobané (a village about 200 km from Ouagadougou). Recently, we moved to Ouagadougou in order to receive technical support from the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI). We wanted to enjoy proximity with EFI experts to benefit directly from their know-how. Why did you start this atelier? The establishment of AZPF was a result of my love of weaving and wanting to give work opportunities to women living in rural areas. In 1983, I sought help from Religious Sisters who accepted to train two women for a period of 60 days and provide them with two small looms through refundable credit. This was the start of AZPF and since then it’s grown and grown. In those days, I didn’t have an extensive knowledge in weaving, but I remember the great feeling of seeing the women of the association weaving along the roadsides. How big is AZPF now? Our weaving atelier is located in a peripheral district of the capital of Burkina Faso: Ouagadougou. We started with four weavers and modest logistical means: two big looms, four little looms, a storage warehouse and a few weaving 108

accessories. Today, thanks to the remarkable support provided by the Ethical Fashion Initiative, we have 14 employees throughout the supply chain, from spinning to weaving. We also have a wellappointed workspace and a suitable means of production. What is the whole step-by-step process, step by step? First, we prepare the thread in skeins (coiled yarn ready for weaving). Then, we warp the thread on the loom, by arranging the thread to form the warp of a piece of cloth. Thirdly, we drawin the thread on the loom, which involves passing the yarn from the warp through the different elements of the loom, like the heddles and reed. This is the most delicate and time-consuming stage. Finally, once these three steps are correctly carried out, we can start weaving. How many meters do you produce yearly? Do you have more individual customers or brands? During 2014, our weaving atelier produced 855m of wide and a total of 1650m in narrow-width fabric. The significant improvement in the quality of our fabrics and the creativity brought about by the women involved helped us develop our network of national customers. We have a very diverse range of customers, ranging from local fashion designers to female civil servants who have their work uniforms made from our fabric (our most popular design is the striped patterns.) Furthermore, the fabrics available for sale at our showroom in Ouahigouya caught the attention of many passers-by, some who are regular clients. AZPF is also very renowned for its

mastery of natural dyes? How did you acquire this know-how? Following a political decision to fight against deforestation incurred by drought and the activities of people, our association engaged in several sustainable practices: the creation of plant nurseries, reforestation, maintenance of reforested areas just to name a few. This work gained momentum and we decided to plant a variety of plants with the technical support of foresters. From this work, the idea emerged to involve more women who could cultivate the plants and find alternative uses for them, for example as a dyeing material. This launched a project, in the village of Baobané based on the research of plants used for dyeing, with several tests of natural dyes throughout 2012. I worked with the elder women of Baobané to develop dyeing techniques. Since they used to make the traditional Indigo, these women have a high knowledge of dyeing and immensely contributed to the project. With them, we made an inventory of all the dye plants that they knew and we organised training courses to pass on the knowledge to the women of our association. Every year, the AZPF atelier seeks to improve their natural dyes through yarn treatment and better knowledge of favourable harvest periods for leaves, pods, cloves and tree bark. Yes, I know your atelier uses many natural dyes that are not so common? Where do the raw materials come from? Different leaves, pods, cloves and tree bark are harvested and dried. We notably use leaves from the Acacia Nilotica, the bark of wild African grape trees (scientific name: Lannea microcarpa) and

EFI Founder Simone Cipriani with Mariam Maiga. Photo: Grant Fell

“(women) are vulnerable because they are deprived of many basic human rights (…) yet they are the most responsible members of our society because they have to meet the needs of their families” the African birch (scientific name: Anogeissus leiocarpa). The dyeing process consists in boiling the tree bark or soaking leaves, pods and cloves (transformed into powder) for 48 hours. Then we sieve the concentrated juice. At this stage, the fabric to be dyed will have gone through an intensive cleaning process to wash off all surface dirt before soaking it into the juice/ dye. You work only with women: why? AZPF (Association Zoodo pour la Promotion de la Femme), like its acronym indicates, was created for promoting the advancement of women. Although we have some men working with us, our main goal is to involve women. Why work with women? Because in a society such as ours, women are the most vulnerable and responsible individuals. They are vulnerable because they are deprived of many basic human rights, including the right to education; yet they are the most responsible members of our society because they have to meet the needs of their families in terms of food, health and education etc. Above all, we choose to show that it is possible for the women we work with to

regain dignity through decent jobs that allows them to earn a living and take care of their families while being illiterate. This is all feasible provided they are given a specific training (such as weaving) and supported in their activities. Working in this context bears many fruits: the strengthening of mutual understanding, increased support and solidarity within the workers and community, as well as the joy of receiving recognition for all the efforts they put in making our association a successful enterprise. What is your vision for the future of the atelier? Our atelier has grown considerably since its establishment thanks to the hard work and involvement of all of the people. We are very proud of it. We started from scratch and we can now say to have accomplished a lot. The vision we have for the atelier is very simple: a respectful workplace where every employee is valued and respected. As we have always said, our association’s raison d’être is to support the promotion, development and well-being of its members. In the long run, we wish that this spirit of cooperation and solidarity endures between

the members. We also want the profits we make to be saved and reinvested in other projects (education, health, cereal bank…) to support these brave women in different ways. The Hand of Fashion aims to restore the value to artisanal work and craftsmanship within societies where they come from. Can you please tell us if the women working at AZPF feel proud of their work and are respected and valued within their respective communities? The women working in our ateliers feel proud of their work, especially because they have the opportunity to continuously learn new skills, thanks to the support of the Ethical Fashion Initiative. The women participate in meetings of the atelier, where they can voice their opinion about their working conditions. All the women are valued because they are paid per order and make a good living: their salaries are much more than they would otherwise have earned doing another job. They are able to take control over their life and take better care of themselves and their children. 109



Cathérine Ouedraogo I am part of the group of pioneers that founded this weaving cooperative. We united to help each other because we noticed that working in groups or cooperatives is more profitable and allow us to support our families.

Solange ZagrĂŠ Being part of the weaving cooperative has allowed me to have a profession and bring my family out of poverty. 111

PĂŠlagie Tiendrebeogo It is now five years that I work at the cooperative. This job got me out of unemployment and destitution. 112

Bintou Kalmogo It has been two months since I began working for the cooperative. Thanks to this work I now have a monthly income.


Sarata ZagrĂŠ I started weaving when I was 20 years old, now I am 21. This job enables me to cover my needs and those of my baby. 114

PĂŠlagie Tonde In 2014, I began working at the cooperative. It is very good because not only am I learning how to weave but I also earn money every month. This allows me to help my husband with some expenses. 115

Rosalie Tassembedo I began working for the cooperative in 2007 as a dyer, and now I am a weaver. This job allows me to pay school fees for my seven children.


Rakièta Compaore My mother is the only one taking care of the family and it is hard. But since I am part of the weaving cooperative, I not only am able to cover my personal needs, but I also help my mother to solve some of the financial issues that our family has.


Seydou ThĂŠ I am married and have a son. During the five years I have been part of the cooperative I have been able to feed my family and I hope that my job will allow me to soon build a house and enrole my children in school.


Wobgo Bintou Before, I was a tailor. I first came to the association because I was interested in the children support programme. Two years ago the association started weaving and since then I have learned a lot because I did not know how to weave before. before.



Florentine Nikiema We had created a small organisation with a woman that suddenly decided to give up and leave. After this I returned to work in the fields to have enough to feed my family. Life was hard. But since this cooperative was created, my life and the life of my family has improved.

Rakieta Simpore I started weaving two years ago. Since I began, I have learnt a lot, I have evolved from doing preparation tasks to weaving on big looms. Before I was not able to do all this.


CÊcile Konseiga Since 2007 I have been part of the cooperative and what I earn every month allows me to meet all my family’s needs.


Augustine ZaghrĂŠ I used to cut timber and collect sand and gravel to sell. But as soon as I heard about the cooperative I immediately applied to work there. My life is really much better than before. I have six children and I am able to cover their needs.



ClĂŠmentine Compaore I am married and I have three children. I have been part of the association since 2013. Before I was weaving alone, but it was not really working for me. In the association there are more orders, which means I earn more money and this improves my life and the life of my family.

Christelle Nebie I joined the cooperative in April 2014. Since I joined the cooperative, I have solved some financial problems that I had.


Christine Zoungrana I have been part of the cooperative for two years now, but my life is much better than before. My dream is to have a motorbike so that I can better devote myself to my work. 126

W E A V I N G : S T E P - B Y- S T E P Illustration by Maria Muscalu


art is at hand





Through a selection of images from the different works of the Swiss-Guinean photographer, Namsa Leuba, Simonetta Gianfelici brings together the main elements of her work: modernity and tradition, fashion and spirituality. These core themes of her work are in constant interaction with space and subject, natural forces and the centrality of the Human body. “As a talent scout and the curator of the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative’s Pinterest account, I am constantly on the lookout for new talent. Architecture, fashion, photography, art and design are creative spheres that record, promote and shape contemporary culture and reflect social change. My strong interest in visual arts has led me to this project, where I want to celebrate the work of young African Photography talent. The selection of images from diverse bodies of work attempts to present an alternative narrative of the African continent – one that distances itself from the tainted images of the continent which have come to dominate the occidental imaginary. These photographers, following their own vision, translate the creative and cultural processes they encounter through their lens. In this process, they re-establish the African aesthetic and the perception of the entire continent. Thus, each photographer portrays an Africa continent of diversity, full of talent, intrinsic differences and stories.” Simonetta Gianfelici: In the last few years, your research has focused on observing the African identity from a Western point of view. Can you explain which are the peculiarities of both? Namsa Leuba: I select elements 130

meticulously for the functions of my picture. This world is based on rigor, where everything has its place. While recontextualising African elements through my camera, I bring them into a framework of Occidental tastes and aesthetics. I try to transform and put a symbol back into Western intention. I wanted to impart a combination of acidity and freshness. I am particularly interested in the attribution of religious or mystical qualities to inanimate objects known as fetishes. The myths, the force of nature, and the deep, intuitive, impulsive culture of Africa gives me a lot of creative inspiration. My approach was to separate those sacred statuettes from their religious context in order to immortalise them in a Western framework.

your life? What impact do they have on you? Have they affected/ changed your perception of the world?

Nature is always seems to be present in your images – the ones shot outside and inside. What value do you attribute to nature?

All I knew before the trip was that my mother is Muslim and that my father is a protestant, although I have not been baptised. The religious aspect of my mother’s country became very prominent. I discovered an animist side to the Guinean culture which is based on people’s respect for it. I had been exposed to the supernatural side of Guinea since I was a child as I visited ‘marabouts’ [a type of witchdoctor] and on my recent trip, I took part in many ceremonies and rituals. For me it was important to do this work, because now I feel more aware of this situation, the existence of a parallel world, and the world of spirit. It was important for me and my work because it enabled me to become more aware of the intricacy and the existence of a parallel world, that of spirits.

Many divine goddess’ and gods live there. You have to respect it.

What kind of relationship do you have with your Guinean roots?

Your images focus on the female figure. In all your photographs, their presence is full of energy and evokes power. How would you define the role of women today?

I have a good one. Every time I am there I can feel a special essence but the culture needs to develop more and needs support from government to grow and help young emerging artists.

My photos are inspired by African queens. They may be a heroic prophet or a warrior and they are always strong. In your work, you often investigate the magical and mythological rituals of Guinea. Religious practices and magical elements, both divine and mythological have a strong presence in your images. Are these elements integral to

I have read that in many of your works you operate in the construction and deconstruction of the body, driven by a desire to make the invisible visible and make the tangible out of reach. Can you explain this process and the value that you attribute to it? In what is retrospective look at my pictures, it reminds us of statuettes


Portrait of Namsa Leuba, Swiss-Guinean photographer. Photo: Tim Barber

and a statuette (object) conjures a human figure. Behind my pictures, we see the statuettes even though they are humanised. We animate the statuettes (artefact), by thinking of a human figure. Under my pictures there are statuettes, and in each statuette there exists humans and a reflection of the human image. The retrospective image is not the immediate picture, but in what is behind it, behind the picture and my experience For you, what is the relationship between image and reality? An image can make you dream until you open your eyes and you see that you are in the reality. In your opinion, how do you

think African photographers are “reconstructing” the narrative of the African continent? Yes. What do you think about the African art scene versus the one of Europe? I can read the kinds of symbolic meanings I am seeking to express in my own work in African art. The myths, the force of nature, and the deep, intuitive, impulsive culture of Africa offer me a lot of creative inspiration about African traditions. Which photographers have inspired you the most?

Olaf Breuning, Stefan Burger and Lukas Wassmann. In your portraits, “costumes” are often essential. Many of your images have a sensibility and aesthetic that have a strong fashion edge. Have you ever been contacted by a big brand to produce such images for a commercial? No, but I hope this will happen. It would be a great opportunity to work on a fashion project. What is elegance for you? To be alive in your mind and soul. 131


Parasol Photo : Namsa Leuba Š

Khoi San Serie : Namsa Leuba Š



Zulu Kids Serie : Namsa Leuba Š

Griottes Serie : Namsa Leuba Š



Yaka La Ben Serie : Namsa Leuba Š

Khoi San Serie : Namsa Leuba Š


Yaka La Ben Serie : Namsa Leuba Š 138

i-D Magazine Bauhda Serie : Namsa Leuba Š 139

Yaka La Ben Serie : Namsa Leuba Š


WAD Magazine Cocktail Serie : Namsa Leuba Š


For the second consecutive year, the Ethical Fashion Initiative made it to the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival where its short film was nominated among the best fashion films of this edition. By Chloé Mukai Further to being nominated, one of Kenya’s leading illustrators and graphic artists, Brian Omolo, designed the film poster (opposite) with his signature comic book illustration style. Chloé Mukai speaks with Mark Tintner and Brian Omolo about their experience working on this short film. Mark Tintner Film Director, London Chloé Mukai: Was this your first time in Africa? Mark: This was my second trip to Africa. I was eager to return and was very happy when this opportunity to work with the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative arose once again. My first trip was on mission in Kenya filming a project with the Australian luxury brand Sass & bide. Who were the main characters of the film? How did you involve them? There are so many inspiring characters in this film. Most, if not all, are artisans working with the Ethical Fashion Initiative in both rural and urban settings. I tried to involve the artisans in which ever way they felt comfortable. The ladies are just so graceful, so strong and naturally chic. They exude confidence, which made it easy to capture them and tell their story.


creates their best work. It’s not solely about my contribution.When making films about products, I focus on the stories and reality around the product. I find that it is more engaging and relevant.

Voices Count and other portrait commissions. How did you learn to design? Do you use the technology/internet a lot?

I like the challenge of trying my hand at different ways of telling stories, it keeps it interesting. I also specialise in 3D so I get to work on some very innovative and technically challenging projects which is cool. I am quite fortunate because my time is constantly filled with directing, writing, producing or pitching on various projects in different stages of development. I am also a parttime Film Lecturer for the University of Arts London at Ravensbourne’s School of Post Graduate Studies.

I first learned about design at 19 when I went to a college in Nairobi called the Academy of Graphic Technology. Before that I was a fine artist, using colour pencils and pastels to express my art. AGT gave me an introduction to design and all that core skills needed, like how to use a Mac, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Once I obtained my diploma, I flew out to Coventry University in the UK to study Illustration Graphics. I was blown away by the creativity they had at the university and the UK in general. The experience really opened my mind and helped me develop the artistic style that I use today

What was the best part of shooting this film in Kenya?

How did you come up with this concept?

The diverse urban and rural landscapes are very inspiring places to shoot. Coming from London, I would have to say - the light and colours are amazing. But actually it’s most definitely the people, both in front of and behind the camera. They are wonderfully positive and keen to do excellent work.

Well I watched the film over and over and the thing that stood out for me most was the impact this initiative was having on the women in the community. I wanted that to be at the for-front of the design I made, so I singled out the beautiful Maasai lady, drew her and made her the centre of the whole piece. The other elements also feature like the scissors, sewing machine etc. but she was the star and I wanted people to feel that.

Do you only direct these kinds of films?

Brian Omolo Graphic Designer, Nairobi

It’s very difficult to convey a message with just a product and two days of shooting. How did you manage that?

Chloé: What’s your profession and how long have you been doing this for?

Because turn-arounds are so quick, I work extensively on references and boards in pre-production and personally communicate my vision with the team before we’re on the ground. I am very open to collaboration and find giving the team freedom to interpret my vision

Brian: I’m an Art Director by day and an Illustrator and Digital Artist by night/weekends Who are your main clients? My main clients are Kuona Trust Art Centre, Romeo 9, Making All

Watch Mark’s film: View Brian’s work:



NOT CHARITY, JUST WORK A FASHION FILM BY Stella McCartney x ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative Kenyan artisans produce Stella McCartney Made in Africa accessories. Each bag is made by human hands and the story of each artisan is integral to every product. By earning a living wage, women and men can take control of their lives and change it for the better. The Ethical Fashion Initiative is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint UN and WTO agency. The Ethical Fashion Initiative produces quality fashion goods, under ethical and fair conditions, with artisans in Africa and Haiti. 143

PAPI E R-MÂCHÉ Haiti is home to an important tradition of making colourful masks and other artifacts from paper, used extensively during the carnival. Where does this skill come from? Visual artist, surface-textile designer and creative Evelyn Liautaud Quine gives The Hand of Fashion a brief overview of the story behind this art and its evolution today.

The tradition of carnival festivities was introduced on the island by Europeans during the 18th century. With it came the “papier-mâché” craft (literally ‘chewed paper’), commonly used for making masks, a fundamental element in carnival parades throughout Europe. MASCARADE LEGACY The town of Jacmel in southern Haiti is the creative womb of Haiti’s papier-mâché production. During the three days of festivities preceding ash Wednesday, ‘mascarades’ of grotesque masks and big inflated heads (known as ‘gwo tèt’) made of papier-mâché caricaturing local personalities or mythical characters - dance up and down the streets to the frantic rhythms of carnival music. In the early 1950s, two papiermâché artisans from Jacmel, Pierrot Fiote and Labé Placide, worked solely on Mardi Gras parades


making papier-mâché items. Today they are still remembered as the patriarchs of this trade. In the 70s, a new generation of papier-mâché artisans and artists emerged with Lionel Simonis and Michel Sinvil, among the first innovators to break away from the exclusive carnival production in Jacmel. Simonis’ vibrant style of decorative objects became very popular and soon, others followed his example. Likewise, Michel Sinvil - who’s work was featured in the Brooklyn Museum’s 1978 exhibition “Haitian Art” - created bold and colourful sculptures that were praised by curator Ute Stebich as “evoking feelings of respect and awe”. Since then, many talented artisans followed their predecessors to successfully develop their own style and have specialised in a wide variety of objects using this knowhow.

JACMEL NATIVE A breeding ground for the proliferation of the papier-mâché craft in Haiti, Jacmel remains the keeper of the authentic cultural treasures of the Mardi Gras tradition, unlike other Haitian towns where the carnival ‘défilés’ have degenerated into mere commercial advertisements for the local food and beverage industry or failed attempts to imitate Rio. The ‘bandes-à-pied’ and ‘groupesmasqués’ are the highlight of the ‘Carnaval Jacmelien,’ where one can appreciate broad displays of papier-mâché heads and masks. Haitian papier-mâché artisans are full of creativity and continue to perfect their trade and cultivate their unique styles. However the element of design is the key ingredient that encourages these craftsmen to evolve alongside international trends, especially when it comes to fashion, interior

Sadrole, a Haitian papier-mâchÊ artisan holding up his work Photo: Marie Arago 145

design and the gift market. As such, Haitian and international designers play a crucial role in inspiring and stimulating artisans of all trades to find news avenues for their creativity as well as new markets for their products. After India was held in the spotlight of international fashion knowhow and inspiration for over a decade, could Haiti inspire the next cultural trend? Haitian work featured in TOMS hand-painted shoes made with Caribbean Crafts, Stella Jean’s spectacular Spring/ Summer 2015 collection featuring prints inspired from Haitian art and Michael Stars’ jacket with beaded ‘vèvè’ symbols, all seem to indicate that the current trends are tuning in to Haiti. After all, papier-


mâché is a sustainable craft with easily available raw materials and lends itself well to the creation of accessories, jewellery and other elements that can be used as decorations for fashion. TECHNIQUE There are two basic techniques for making papier-mâché locally: the laminate and the paste. The laminate is the process of layering small strips of paper on a hard surface or a wire frame that serves as a base for the new shape. The strips of paper are first imbibed with a wet paste made of rice starch and water. The strips are then carefully layered over the base which can have any flat or 3D shape. Once dry, these layers

of wet paper form a hard crust which is made smooth with fine sandpaper and decorated with paint and varnish. The types of paper used in this process include old news papers, tissue paper, old cement sacs and soaked cardboard. The paste is the process of making a compound with the paper, a watery starch and adding saw dust is used to give a harder finish. This technique is favored for specific design usage, for example: - When creating a new 3D shape, the paste can be compressed inside the cavity of a mold.

Above: Pots of paint and paintbrushes used for papier-mâché Photo: Marie Arago Opposite: Stella Jean Autumn/Winter 2015 papiermâché clutch made by Haitian artisans Photo: Ludovica Arcero


Papier-MachĂŠ masks on sale in the town of Jacmel, Haiti Photo: Marie Arago


it’s going to work



SUSTAINABLE FASHION’S (REAL) PROBLEM By: Simone Cipriani, of the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative. Photo: Louis Nderi



"The supply chain is dispersed, complex and faces strong power imbalances between buyers and the layers of suppliers"

While sustainability should be built into supply chains, the fashion industry is today responsible for much of the exploitation of people and the environment: number one in terms of exploitation of people and the second most polluting industry after oil. Looking at the ecosystem of this industry, these drawbacks can be improved by proposing alternative business models, the use of technology and the engagement of governments and consumers. Some major retailers and brands prompted by outraged consumers, workers’ advocacy groups and by the general public - engage in CSR schemes to improve their supply chains and public relations. This is a first step, albeit often triggered by factory inspections and audits. But this is not enough. Why? Because supply chains are structured to meet the interests of two strong stakeholder groups: the companies based in the developing world and the big western retailers and brands. Then there are mega-suppliers who carry out the matchmaking between both these entities, often at the expense of people with only profit margins and tight production deadlines on the agenda.

THE BUYERS, THE FACTORIES AND THE MEGA-SUPPLIERS Most companies based in developing countries are forced to work within Cut, Make and Trim (CMT) or Cut, Make and Pack (CMP) schemes. This means they receive materials for a product already designed that they cut, sew and ship. For many, this is a favourable deal that allows them 154

to work more autonomously in the supply chain of fashion as it makes provision for shortcomings such as the lack of design skills, lack of access to materials and lack of credit schemes to name a few. In a nutshell, such companies from the developing world can only operate in a specific segment of the value chain. By doing so, they access international markets and are able to start a growth process. A process that could one day also expand in terms of capacities and outreach. At the same time, the big retailers compress the cost of labour to justify their massive investment in marketing and retail and all for their customary high profit margins. The only way for them to meet their business objectives is to hand over this segment of the supply chain to a third party that can minimise the cost of labour. This enables them to rid themselves of an enormous fixed cost that is transformed into a variable cost: they become detached from the factories where their production takes place. Following this logic, large retailers and brands need suppliers based in countries with a low cost of labour: those working within CMT schemes. To manage this, they need intermediaries: brokers who can organise this production, disperse it among different suppliers and deal with contracts and the wearisome side of production. As such, the supply chain remains traceable only up to this first tier of suppliers. The more layers of suppliers, the more powerful these intermediaries and the lower the prices they can get

for their customers. The infamous case of Rana Plaza illustrates the complexity of supply chains in fashion. Walmart commissioned their production to a tier 1 intermediary, Success Apparel, that in turn hired another company, Simco (tier 2). Simco, without informing Success Apparel, then hired yet another company, the Tuba Group (tier 3), which was unknown to the tier 1 company. Tuba Group also subcontracted part of the production to a company they owned: Tazreen (tier 4). Tazreen operated in Rana Plaza. The American buyer was unaware of what happened beyond tier one, but benefited from the possibility of minimizing labour costs. This system has created a supply chain in which buyers are separated from factories. The supply chain is dispersed, complex and faces strong power imbalances between buyers and the layers of suppliers. Furthermore, this system encompasses a variety of workers, all in a very weak position: employees, casual workers, home workers, migrant workers and so on. Many of these workers are women, who because of social gender structure, do not have bargaining power, and thus are paid less than men. We could easily say that poor women subsidise the fashion industry! For all these reasons, the system is basically impenetrable by normal CSR audits or inspections. Inspections alone cannot depict the entire map of suppliers. LUXURY FASHION Unlike what one would think, this business model does not only

Artisan stitching a Carmina Campus bag. Photo: Louis Nderi

apply to fast fashion. Luxury brands have learned from the lessons above and restructured their supply chains according to mainstream fashion business models. The way in which some luxury companies treat suppliers (Small and Medium Enterprises and artisans) is aimed at requesting a progressive reduction of prices without taking the responsibility of how it is achieved. For instance in Europe, there is news of illegal workers employed by tier 2 or 3 suppliers who produce bags and accessories for brands we all know. Today, the system of fast fashion is applied, mutatis mutandis, to luxury fashion. In the case of luxury, the scenario is slightly different: margins are higher, thus there is room to invest in improving their

environmental footprint. Many luxury brands seriously invest in environmentally friendly materials and processes. This is good, very good. But the business model above remains: they carry on minimizing the cost of labour through tiers and tiers of suppliers who manage production. As long as it stays this way, no real sustainability can be achieved. Another unsustainable feature, which is unique to luxury brands, is the frequent misuse of artisans in developing countries. In search for inspiration, they contact artisans through their design teams to discuss ideas on decorations, fabric, traditional skills and materials etc. Samples are produced and designers get to become familiar with designs and shapes that

belong to other cultures. These ideas are used to develop designs, but often the artisan does not see a penny of reward, as only a small percentage of ideas become a commercial product. Commonly, this “idea� is produced elsewhere by a trusted tier 1 supplier, thus the contribution of artisans is limited to product development, badly or even not paid, with the promise of future orders. There are exceptions to this, but they remain exceptions. GUIDELINES FOR ACTION We must acknowledge that striving for sustainability is similar to implementing policies to protect and enforce human rights. It is an approach that requires a journey full of trials and errors, with a progression towards a set of 155

clear milestones and objectives. This means sustainability cannot be achieved in a fortnight, as it requires time and a plan. But, most of all, it requires policy. Some key actors and actions can have an impact on how fast this move towards sustainability materialises:

the impact of their wages and work. The Rana Plaza factory had passed a CSR audit, yet an impact assessment on workers and their communities would have disclosed a different reality (of misery and deprivation) that could have alerted the auditors.

LAWS AND REGULATION Labour and environmental protection laws are the main and most effective measure to stop exploitation if adopted and enforced, and this also applies to the developing world. International cooperation and aid organisations should coordinate their work to implement this form of legislation. It is a challenge, but when it works this is a powerful agent of change. Sadly, standards and exceptions have done almost nothing to stop bad practices: only the force of law can do this effectively.

MAPS Requesting retailers and brands to map their supply chains, including all tiers, and making this public. Without mapping, no accountability is possible.

ADVOCACY GROUPS Exposure of bad practices and boycott campaigns can discourage bad behaviour and reward those who disclose transparent supply chains and good practices. Consumers and other stakeholders from the fashion industry should work hand in hand to strengthen such initiatives that bring more transparency into the supply chain. QUALITATIVE AUDITS As opposed to the usual CSR inspections. Such audits, also called impact assessments, concentrate on the impact of work and working conditions on people. It is a structured process of social research assessing the living conditions of people and 156

CONSUMERS In many parts of the developing world, consumers are not aware or concerned by issues of responsible fashion, especially compared to the young but growing ethically & sustainably aware consumer movement in developed countries. As an indicator, check where fast fashion retailers are opening new shops and ask yourself why. News of store openings in Africa reflects the growth of a new middle class with money to spend. STAFF IN FASHION COMPANIES The future of employment in fashion will see the rise of human resources that can manage sustainability and its issues. The days in which this area of work was confined to the CSR department are going to be over. Fashion schools and universities have to prepare students for this. Will we see change? I believe so. Look at the Kering group, the umbrella to some of the most coveted luxury brands today, investing in developing chrome-free leather - something

unthinkable not so long ago. People and brands change, and this change is already happening: we are already seeing positive results. Now it is time for states and international organisations to come up to the stage, not with standards, but with laws. The booming technology industry can have a strong role into the fashion industry’s journey towards sustainability. In the future, I imagine we could use apps that map and structure supply chains, making them more simple and transparent. Beyond organising delocalised production, these could become powerful tools for industry mangers and creative directors to develop new products and predict the impact of orders in those places. But change is an imperative and even slow change will produce many forms of disasters, as we have reached a point of almost no return. The masses of desperate refugees that are hitting Europe right now are running from wars but also from unbearable living conditions, lack of work, lack of water and food. A supply chain like fashion, with its ramifications all over the world, can contribute towards creating a better world for everybody. Or the opposite‌ their salaries are much more than they would otherwise have earned doing another job. They are able to take control over their life and take better care of themselves and their children.

Kenyan artisan showing her beading work made for Mimco Photo: Louis Nderi

The Role of Policy The European Union is moving towards more sustainability in fashion within its member countries with its Directive on Non-financial Reporting, which requires large companies in member states to disclose information on human rights, policies, risks, environmental issues and anticorruption issues. Likewise, the German government has launched the Textile Alliance, a clear-minded attempt to establish a dialogue with all German companies that work in the supply chain of fashion, mapping all tiers of their supply chains and adopting relevant standards on labour and environment.


IT’S (NOT THAT) APPROPRIATE Cultural Misappropriation in Fashion: Digitising a Social Currency

cover knowledge that belonged to communities and was transmitted orally.

Sustainability Consultant and Educator Carmen Artigas brings light to the issue of Intellectual Property in fashion, a fastdeveloping problem for the preservation of many traditional expressions.

TECHNOLOGICAL DANGER Today, the latest technology supported by global trade allows brands to easily digitise and print original ethnic textiles. The development of digitally printed fabric removes many restrictions, allowing designers to work with thousands of colors and create designs with a high level of detail and at faster print timescales. This applies in the fashion, interior design and home furnishings industries. Our current system of textile production supports the mass consumption of cheap goods and if this trend continues, it will inevitably lead to the misuse of original traditional textiles reproduced with little or no transformation applied to them.

Cultural appropriation happens every day in the world of fashion. It is the loose idea of borrowing, sharing and being inspired by other cultures. The key issue of concern is the commercial use of cultural property and not sharing the benefits or failing to acknowledge the custodians of these Traditional Cultural Expressions. Recently there was a big uproar in the South Pacific cultural heritage circles about a Nanette Lepore dress. The design is using traditional tapa and masi (bark cloth) patterns from the South Pacific but was labeled “Aztec prints.” Pineda Covalin, a high end Mexican brand, has been digitizing traditional textiles since 1995 and registering them as trademarks. The textiles are printed in silk via China, basically hijacking Mexican artisans patrimony. These are just some examples, when unfortunately there are thousands of other cases like Lepore or Covalin. Why? Because there is a widespread misconception that traditional cultural expressions are part of the public domain. They are not: they are specialized forms of knowledge that have not been protected by intellectual property rights, only because Intellectual Property was not conceptualized to 158

Undoubtedly, digital printing is a brilliant tool, as long as regulation and monitoring of intellectual property rights are correctly put in place. “The growth of the world production of digitally printed textiles is estimated at more than 20 percent per year. Messe Frankfurt France claims the increased use of digital textile printing on an industrial scale is revolutionising sourcing, optimising product development programs, shortening delivery times, cutting excess stock and facilitating the restocking of best-selling items throughout the season.” Recently, the Sourcing Journal Online announced the launch of AVANTPRINT The first digital print trade show. A great threat lies here, and

this innovative platform should be combined with a ‘Forum of Consciousness’ or Board addressing intellectual property of indigenous textiles. Digital technology is changing the face of textile design and there is a global problem that requires establishing ethical parameters whereby more should be done to recognise the sourcing of inspiration from the cultural heritage of communities around the world. At this pace, the current technology will allow for continual misuse and abuse of indigenous designs and it is crucial to protect artisans and their cultural heritage. The problem emerges again when traditional embroideries from Mexico or Guatemala are sent to be reinterpreted in countries such as India or China. Latin American and Native American indigenous groups have been widely affected by this. The Native American Navajo people recently brought a case against the clothes company Urban Outfitters, for the misuse of their name. Urban Outfitters has argued that “Navajo” is a generic term for a style or design and has asserted counter claims. With the palpable expansion of the global ethical fashion movement, consumers are placing greater value on corporate social responsibility and ethics, and negative publicity (on brands) could cause them to further question the true cultural, social and environmental value of what they purchase. Companies who source ideas from Latin America or Africa must ensure these partnerships mutually benefit the communities who helped inspire them.

Not many people know that Gandhi - passionate about preserving India’s cultural heritage - published a book on dyeing. Carmen’s professor, Pr Toofan Rafai had a copy from the 1920s. Photos: Carmen Artigas 159

RESPECTING INDIGENOUS HERITAGE Elise Huffer, Human Development Program Adviser, Culture Secretariat of the Pacific Community, shared issues on TCEs with Jean-Michel Jarre when he went to the CISAC copyright summit. The outcome of these discussions were: Often, those wanting to popularise TCEs around the world (through music, fashion, art etc) do not actually receive the consent from the traditional owners and/or do not provide them with adequate compensation. The moral and economic rights of holders and owners of TCEs are regularly violated by their misrepresentation and/or misuse. For example, the Deep Forest Lullaby hit song – is claimed to have been inspired by Pygmies of West Africa, but in actual fact it is a Solomon Islands lullaby from Malaita sung by a specific clan. But the industry also learns lessons from crises. In 2010, when the Made in China polemic was at its peak, Prada created the “Made In” project whereby it worked with expert artisans with a strong heritage to develop a range of products celebrating their skills and culture. Two seasons were dedicated to praise the country of origin, by designing capsule collections honoring the work of different artisans, utilising traditional craftsmanship, materials, and techniques from specific regions. This resulted in the “PRADA Made in Scotland” tartan fabric, “PRADA Made in Peru” alpaca wool jumpers, “PRADA Made in Japan” printed cotton denim and “PRADA 160

Made in India” garments featuring Chikan embroidery. Each product had a special label declaring the origin of each piece. Technology is driving the market and digital printing is driving the misappropriation of ethnic textiles at a faster pace. Without recognition or compensation, the custodians of these crafts will find themselves replaced by a new generation of printed textiles. Many designers are unaware of this and developing an ethical fashion criteria and responsible standards to work with cultural archetypes are imperative. Textiles have always been considered a SOCIAL CURRENCY of indigenous groups and fashion must be conscientious and respectful when using indigenous and folkloric cultural heritage as a source of inspiration. Carmen Artigas presented the topic at the Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium. To learn more on Intellectual Property for artisans their opinion about their working conditions. All the women are valued because they are paid per order and make a good living: their salaries are much more than they would otherwise have earned doing another job. They are able to take control over their life and take better care of themselves and their children. Cultural appropriation happens every day in the world of fashion and is framed around the acts of borrowing, sharing and being inspired by other cultures. The key issue of concern is the commercial use of cultural property that fails to share the benefits or acknowledge the custodians of what can be called “Traditional Cultural

Expressions”. This tension was most recently expressed through the response of those in South Pacific cultural heritage circles to a Nanette Lepore dress design (RST 2013). Lepore used a design that was based on traditional tapa and masi (bark cloth) patterns from the South Pacific, however, she labeled it as an Aztec dress. This blatant mistake underscores the lack of research and integrity that can be found in fashion companies today when sourcing inspiration for their designs. In this paper I will address the lack of cultural sensitivity and aloofness displayed by fashion designers when it comes to addressing their sources of inspiration and the technologies that enable this. While the latest technologies and global trade allows brands to digitize and print original textiles quickly and efficiently, the problem reemerges when traditional embroideries e.g. Mexican or Guatemalan are sent abroad and reinterpreted in countries such as India or China rendering a cheaper version by hand or machine. I believe the current technologies will allow for certain misuse and abuse of indigenous designs and assert that it is crucial to protect artisans and their cultural heritage. The new era of digital printing needs to be examined and intellectual cultural property protection put into place. Sadly, it is a global issue and we need to establish ethical parameters based on the premise that more should be done to apply consciousness and respect when finding inspiration in other cultures’ heritage.

Carmen with Professor Toofan Rafai


William Ingram TEDxUbud 161




Eyes on Talents



Fashion Revolution


African Prints in Fashion

Floriane de St Pierre et Associés

Namsa Leuba

Anne Mimault

Orange Culture FOMI

Antonello Ghezzi

Osklen From Somewhere

Black Magazine

Pitti Immagine Galago

Brian Omolo

Projecto mental HAFDE


RPD Models Justin Henry

Carmen Artigas

sass & bide Karen Walker

Carmina Campus

Sindiso Khumalo Kibonen NY

Chan Luu

Stella Jean

CHiCHia London

La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival

Stella McCartney


Louis Nderi

Taibo Bacar

Dent de man

Loza Maléombho

Thom Kerr

Andrew Ondrejcak

Marie Arago

United Arrows

Ethical Fashion Initiative

Mark Tintner

Vivienne Westwood

Evelyn Liautaud Quine

MaXhosa by Laduma



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