Thursday, March 15, 2012

AFIA Spring/Summer 2012 Ready to Wear Collection

There is no doubt that fair trade fashion label, AFIA has set a new standard for textile sourcing and artisan/designer collaborations. Following their successful 2011 debut, AFIA proudly announces its Spring/Summer 2012 women’s ready-to-wear offerings. By fusing the vibrant, traditional textiles of West Africa with classic American trends, AFIA’s latest collection embodies their now signature 'urban indigenous' aesthetic. 

Inspired by an exploratory trip to Ghana, designer Meghan Sebold returns to Africa for the creation of each collection to handpick fabric from floor to ceiling stacks of technicolor textiles in the busy markets of Accra. 

The nature of this unique sourcing process makes each collection personal and forever limited-edition. The colors, patterns, and motifs used in West African textiles are a visual representation of local history, proverbs, moral values, and social codes.

I asked Meghan Sebold, stylist Kestrel Jenkins, and eco-model Ariel Clay about the inspiration and process behind this most recent look book, and they shared the following: 

Meghan described their unique relationship with the artisans and sewers in Ghana: "I visited the cooperative I worked with last year (Dzidefo) to tell them I'd be returning in March for production. Business has been slow in their small village, so they were thrilled. We also will be stopping by a cooperative outside Cape Coast to visit the cooperative where Monica Wontoroski-Zaidman worked on her line, MonTree. Hopefully we will do a custom piece with them. We'll also be working with a facility right in Accra so we can scale up production. The workers are on salary business – a stability basically unheard of in Ghana. Regardless of whether orders are coming in, everyone still gets paid."

The AFIA team joins forces to redefine African textile chic

Kestrel Jenkins, Stylist for Afia's SS12 look book and Founder of Hoverstyle:

"Some of my inspirational sources for the styling of Afia's latest lookbook were Mara Hoffman's incredible warm weather aesthetic, mixed with the undeniably hot neon runway trend. Pairing such gorgeous prints with a solid neon color, only enhances the prints and really allows your eye to see their true beauty. For me, the somewhat blown out look of the neon additions, only amplifies the designs and vibrant colors which are statement to Afia's collections."

Stylist and Writer, Kestrel Jenkins of MakeFashionFair and Hoverstyle

"For me, styling plays a key role in moving the ethical/sustainable fashion movement forward. In order to gain access to mainstream press, buyers, and consumers, brands need to have an on-point look for their promotional materials. That is what places them side-by-side next to the mainstream designers and labels. Once they have that place of access, brands like Afia undoubtedly have an edge, based on their incredible backstory. With well thought-out styling and marketing, the newest, freshest ethical brands will make it into this elevated spotlight."

Ariel Clay, fair trade advocate, eco-model, blogger, and retail specialist: 

"Wearing fair trade or sustainable clothing makes me feel not only that I am acting on my beliefs, but that I am also communicating a stronger message. When someone complements me on a clothing item that I am wearing that is fair trade, I immediately get to launch into the story behind the garment. It gives me a chance to share what is special and unique about the piece."

"When I wear conventionally-made clothing, I always feel a bit of regret and shame, that I should have tried harder to find the eco-alternative or should have resisted the temptation just to buy something because it was cute, pretty, or convenient. Changing my consumer habits has been challenging, but it is so worth it when I can be a point of education and take pride in the life-cycle of my clothes."

Learn more about the AFIA team of Meghan Sebold and Elizabeth Cloyd.

Shop AFIA online here. Look book photography by Evan Felts

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