“I love the idea of finding something that is different, that has a story and a mission. I created lemlem and the lemlem Foundation with the goal of improving lives, through sustainable fashion,” Liya Kedebe.
The story of African fashion cannot be told without paying homage to the skilled artisan. From batik-making, which originated in Indonesia and was imported and re-worked in West Africa, to eclectic trade beads, comprising of ostrich egg shells, animal bones and more, from South Africa, intricate craftsmanship is at the heart of our dressing.
Someone who knows this well, and is committed to preserving the tradition of handmade creations, is Liya Kedebe. Aside from her vast accomplishments as an international supermodel, actor and maternal health advocate, the Ethiopian is the founder and creative director of lemlem, an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s, children’s and home goods, made entirely in Africa.
Following a trip to her home country, she encountered a group of traditional weavers, who could no longer find a market for their craft. An idea was born: to elevate artisanship, and create and expand production and jobs around Africa, using the power of fashion. CEO, Liya could not have chosen a better name for this venture – lemlem – meaning ‘to bloom and flourish’ in the Ethiopian language of Amharic.
“By employing traditional weavers, we’re trying to break their cycle of poverty, at the same time preserving the art of weaving while creating modern, casual, comfortable stuff that we really want to wear,” – Kedebe.
Cotton has been cultivated on Ethiopian farms for centuries, and is at the core of lemlem’s signature designs. Each lemlem piece is a product of a partnership with local artisan studios, that use traditional African motifs and techniques. But it goes beyond cuts, designs and sales for this social-preneur; the brand is dedicated to helping women thrive both within its workshops and out in the world, through the support of the lemlem Foundation.