Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.



Crafts

March 16th, 2015

From Hand with Love – Crafted Lovingly in Africa for Mimco

MIMCO proudly supports the initiative that plays an active role in reducing poverty by empowering women through work and enabling their communities to thrive. MIMCO has partnered with the International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), an organisation that actively reduces poverty by empowering some of the world’s poorest people through fair work opportunities. The initiative makes real trade possible for some of the most marginalised creative communities as they connect global fashion brands with local African artisans for mutual benefit. Predominantly fostering female employment, the project offers fair working conditions and gender equality to all involved, as well as the opportunity to gain valuable skills that benefit their entire communities.

“The collaboration between MIMCO and the Ethical Fashion Initiative brings together the joy of fashion and textiles, while celebrating the very real talent of local Kenyans,” says Cathryn Wills, Managing Director of MIMCO. “As each piece brings joy to the wearer, they can know that it also brings joy, self-confidence and empowerment to the artisan that has made it, their entire family and community”.

Inspired by the vibrant culture of the local artisans that have skilfully crafted them, the two piece collection comprises the Afrigraphico Tote and the Afrigraphico Pouch. Both styles have been designed in collaboration with MIMCO’s design team and created using cotton canvas, hand embroidery, traditional beading techniques and silk screening. The Afrigraphico Tote and Pouch each feature hand embroidery and beading of a MIMCO designed motif as well as a traditional African Kanga lining. A tassel zip pull, features MIMCO’s design printed on canvas, matching the tote gussets.

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Cathryn Wills, Managing Director and Valeria Fioretti, Senior Design Manager, travelled to Kenya to meet the artisans and see, first-hand, how working with the EFI has empowered local women through work. “It was an incredible experience”, says Cathryn Wills, “From the urban dwellers, to the Maasai women living further afield – the EFI provides training, infrastructure and tangible, sustainable business support. I loved meeting the women, taking in their uniquely African welcomes – from singing to dancing to stunning smiles – and seeing the difference this work brings to their lives.”

The trip also allowed MIMCO to meet with members from the EFI, including Simone Cirpriani, Head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative. “Since our first meeting I’ve been very excited to work with Cathryn and her team. I love the concept we are developing together because it fuses fashion, responsibility and beauty. I hope this sets a standard for other distributors and it is just the start of a fruitful and long-term collaboration.” MIMCO’s Ethical Fashion Initiative products are part of Season 1:15 CODE AFRIQUETTE.

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One of the most important elements of what they stand for as a brand is female empowerment. At MIMCO they create things without a size attached, without dictating an enforced style, but rather with surprising design details or unexpected materials to offer their woman something different. They go to great lengths to ensure their quality provides her reassurance and their designs produce an opportunity to showcase her eclectic style to those in her world. They also understand that no one needs for what they create, it’s something to be desired and in the unbalanced world in which we live, not everyone is fortunate enough to have such a choice. They say that they can’t completely change the way the world operates, but they can offer women living in poverty and less fortunate circumstances than ourselves a chance for self-empowerment through raising awareness of their situations and collaborating with empowering institutions, like the Ethical Fashion Initiative.

The collaboration with the EFI is underpinned by MIMCO’s robust sustainability strategy, which includes a commitment to maintaining high ethical standards throughout the supply chain across all product ranges.  All MIMCO suppliers are required to comply with their Code of Labour Practice, which is aligned with the International Labour Organisation conventions in relation to ethical trade. Read more about their social responsibility here.

See their website for more product information too here: http://www.mimco.com.au/efi







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