Tamu Thomas will be speaking on the Inspirational YOU ‘Get ahead in fashion’ Masterclass at The Stephen Lawrence Centre on Tuesday 25th February 2014.
Tamu is the Creative Director of fashion brand Kenema that was launched in 2010.
credit: Mei Parsons Photography
“It went from receiving a dress from Sierra Leone as a present to discussions about importing them, to me sitting down and thinking there must be a way to use these fabrics in everyday garments that will appeal to a global audience actually designing and producing an entire collection,” she explains.
Tamu is passionate about supporting local businesses in Sierra Leone and across Africa, directly impacting them and empowering communities. The label works with entrepreneurs and artisans to provide products, goods and services in exchange for fair pay. Kenema aims to use locally produced fabric such as Batik, Tie-Dye and ‘Country Cloth’ Sierra Leone’s version of strip woven cloth that is native to West Africa alongside wax cotton prints that have become synonymous with the continent.
The Country Cloth is made from locally grown cotton, hand carded, spun into thread, and woven into strips on traditional looms. The strips are then sewn together edge to edge to form the finished cloth.
“We want to open pathways so the ethical background of the label is discovered,” says Tamu, mindful that awareness of these global issues is key, but savvy enough to understand people don’t want to be force-fed moral viewpoints.
Kenema takes its name from the third largest city in Sierra Leone, just one of many ravaged by the civil war which raged from 1991 until 2002. “The citizens of Kenema carry themselves with such courage and resilience,” says Tamu. “I want my brand to represent that beauty, strength and tenacity in all of the people.”
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