Sunday, December 13, 2015
As more and more fashion bloggers ask the question, 'Where do our clothes come from?' consumer awareness increases, and the public want to know where is safe to shop. For those interested, there are numerous, region specific Facebook groups dedicated towards the dissemination of this knowledge. Although some online retailers have taken responsibility and created diffusion lines, e.g. Asos Africa produced in collaboration with SOKO Kenya, it represents only a small fraction of what's available on the site.
I unknowingly featured some of the fabulous clothes from Yevu earlier in the year when I attended the Alice Euphemia Garage Sale and in the time since feverishly snapping the chaos of a sale (what was I thinking...) I've now had time to digest the clothes, and more importantly, an ethical consumer choice. Yevu (which translates to “white woman” in the local Ewe language) was started by Australian, Anna Robertson after she fell in love with traditional wax print. There was opportunity to partner with a small business in Ghana, and Robertson partnered with dedicated tailors and seamstresses to create YEVU's debut range in 2013. There is so much good this brand does namely supporting a local industry, preserving traditional textile techniques and the economic empowerment of women (64% of the workforce is female).
As the clothes are made in Ghana, you can imagine there is no division between Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. This is also a problem I've picked up on for designer's residing in the southern hemisphere. Fashion seems to have a "It's my way or the highway approach" and for brands which don't experience strong seasonal variations because of the geography and latitude, they have less opportunity to expand their brand globally. Fortunately this is not the case for Yevu who are very popular here in Melbourne and Sydney's Surry Hills but I can't help but feel bitter on the behalf of designers from Australia and other countries who must conform in order to succeed.
Since the seasons don't influence Yevu as heavily as say, a brand based in North America, each range comprises a variety of pieces including bomber jackets, colourful drop-crotch playsuits, shorts, shirts, skirts and dresses. Each collection isn't specific to gender either, both mens and womenswear is created simultaneously and photographed beautifully blurring the division between gender. Within womenswear at least clothes varied from the tight-fitting mini skirt (who can resist a good mini skirt?) to more loose and relaxed lounge pieces. The clothes aim to capture and celebrate the colour and vibrant nature of life in West African wax print and handmade textiles. When sold alongside other brands in boutiques and costing similar amounts of money, wouldn't you feel more comfortable supporting a brand which stands for something?