Ethically Fashionable

Like any other sector, the fashion industry is not immune to the world’s problems, including climate change, resource scarcity, vulnerable economic conditions, changing consumer behaviour and so on. The challenge to the fashion industry then is in understanding these threats and taking appropriate action to safeguard its future, protect the environment and improve the lives of its customers, workers and suppliers around the world.

Ethical fashion is about changing these norms and implementing eco-friendly, human-centred and sustainable ways to make clothes. Currently, there is a growing trend for more ethically mindful and sustainable approaches to fashion and one designer from Congo has gone as far as to make and wear clothes made out of paper. Congolese fashion designer Cedric Mbengue used to love wearing designer fashion but now he’s closet is full of dapper jackets and shirts made out of paper.

Cedric who is also known as 100% has become so popular, that some of his creations were exhibited in Paris. Finding inspiration from fashion catalogues and the Society of Ambience-Makers and Elegant People famously known as the Sape, Cedric wants to train others and start his own company making paper clothes. Though he is a pioneer when it comes to paper fashion, Cedric is not alone when it comes to fashion designers in Africa making sustainable clothing. Here are three fashion brands whose sleek garments are also ethically made.

  1. Sindiso Khumalo

Sindiso Khumalo started her eponymous label in early 2012 after receiving her Masters in Design for Textile Futures at Central St Martins College of Art Design in London. But it was reaching the finals in Elle Magazine (South Africa) New Talent Competition that helped push her label into the limelight. It’s not just the strong, complex graphic prints she creates that makes the brand stand out. It’s also the fact that she focuses on sustainable contemporary textiles.

2.  I Scream & Red
The Cape Town based brand recycles safety belts among other upcycled materials and upholstery to make bags. To ensure that the bags remain as green as possible, brand founder, Zaid Philander works with organic cotton as well. To reduce their carbon footprint the company made the decision to source all its materials in Cape Town and as close to their production site as possible. That means a reduced level of carbon emissions they would have emitted importing or travelling.

3.  Katungulu MwendwaBorn and raised in Nairobi,Kenya Katungulu Mwendwa is aware that Kenya as well as other African cities’ rapid economic development may lead to the death of its traditional cultures. She hopes that by referencing these cultures in contemporised designs while promoting her collections as extensions of these cultures, this may popularise and create more awareness of them to safeguard their longevity.

Katungulu Mwendwa will showcase her incredible creations in November at The Core Fashion a platform that seeks to do something entirely different to the spate of fashion weeks across the continent. More information about the event can be found here