195o's inspired african print lover

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The original and best

So this post is a little bit more personal. After my last post a friend of mine said "Were you aware that Thakoon is using Masaii (East African) colours/cloth in those designs? ". It got me thinking about how important it is to acknowledge the roots of the fabric you use. As a white girl that uses African print it is something I often find myself explaining. So here it goes............

I fell in love with African print when I first moved to London. Sunday was one of my favourite days. Boring shopping trips to Elephant and Castle were quickly brightened up by all the lady's in their church clothes. Every colour imaginable set against the grey tower blocks of South East London, even now I find it quite a sight to behold.
 After hunting around I quickly realised they were not off the peg.................even if they were I cant help feeling I would look more than a little bit silly bopping around South London in my Kaba and Slit  .......

Kaba and Slit 

It was around about this time I wanted to find a new skill something creative as I had had a bit of a block after leaving uni. I decided to teach myself how to sew. After investing in the cheapest sewing machine I could find on e-bay I went out on a mission to buy fabric.East street market was where I picked up my first piece of cloth, helped out in the very basics by the super patient lady that owned the shop. She had clearly been sewing all her life but did not once laugh at my stupid questions. I went home and made my first ever dress. Oh it was quite frankly the ugliest  thing you have ever seen and when i took it to show my Ghanaian  mum (obviously not my actual mum but my second mum when i'm in london) she laughed hard at my shoddy work, wandered off to her room and pulled out some properly made clothes. We sat for hours looking at the cloth while she told me stories about how it is made, how you can tell a quality fabric form a dodgy rip off (very important) and the history of the patterns. That was it i was in love not just with the cloth or sewing but with the meaning and the stories. Fashion is such an emotionless void you wear clothes because they make you look good or because someone in a magazine has told you to. I don't want to sound self righteous when i say this so please don't think thats where its coming form, but when I make clothes its about keeping some of these  traditions alive and bringing this beautiful cloth to a wider audience.
So in answer to my friends question I don't only know where my cloth comes form but I really really care where it comes form, be that West Africa East Africa or somewhere else in the world and  hope that comes off when you see what i do?  


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