Five African Brands to Help You Build a Sustainable Wardrobe
Words by The Folklore Team
Sustainability is a commonplace concept these days but putting it into practice is often overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when it comes to fashion. Being sustainable is about learning more about where our clothes and accessories come from, being mindful about our shopping habits, and looking after the environment in the process. So, to help start you off, here’s how you can build sustainability into your wardrobe with the help of some African and Black-owned designer brands.
Sustainability is woven into the process of creating the footwear and accessories by Lagos-based brand Shekudo. Under the direction of founder Akudo Iheakanwa, the brand has fostered a responsible approach to its products, offering made-to-order, handcrafted shoes and handbags with traceable origins, using native aso oke fabric and leathers, and employing local artisans.
From the women behind the weaving loom to the shapers of its shoe lasts, Shekudo aims to highlight and preserve the skilled craftsmanship of Nigeria’s makers. Each collection is produced with ethical values that sit alongside the brand’s quality and authentic narrative that comes through its silhouettes and colorful materials.
Cape Town-based jewelry brand Lorne by designer Gillian Lawrence makes use of recycled gold pieces to create renewed earrings, necklaces and rings with distinct shapes that showcase exceptional, artisanal skills and techniques in modern designs. Employing silver, pearls and gold-plated metals for its jewelry ensures that Lorne can offer diverse hand-made seasonal collections where the choice of designs is abundant and inspired.
With its LorneTiques range, which reworks tastefully sourced used and recycled jewelry into one-of-a-kind pieces, Lorne also offers affordably priced and accessible fine jewelry that is easy to wear daily.
Ghanaian luxury brand Ajabeng makes functional basics using both feminine and masculine design elements to create a clean aesthetic. All of its pieces are made locally in a modern ethical and environmentally sustainable way. Established in 2018 by creative director Travis Obeng-Casper, Accra-based Ajabeng is known for its easy-to-wear staples and modern tailoring, crafted in the brand’s afro-minimalist spirit, which combines a traditional African aesthetic with contemporary streetwear.
Ajabeng is dedicated to building a sustainable fashion ecosystem, which is evident in its commitment to fair employment practices, providing opportunities for young African creatives and crafting its easy-to-wear staples from biodegradable materials such as wool-linen blends.
Becoming more sustainable in your style choices can and should also extend to your skincare regimen. All of South African beauty brand 1981’s cleansers and face oils are handmade in small batches from naturally sourced ingredients and are packaged in recyclable bottles.
Using renewable, organic ingredients such as oats and baobab means less water is needed in the manufacturing process and there are no harmful chemicals in the end product. The brand has also chosen to use paper labels on its packaging instead of plastic, and encourages users to find a new purpose for their bottles when they become empty, which means you can indulge yourself and feel good knowing you are doing your part for the environment.
From surfing wetsuits to bikinis and one-piece swimsuits made out of fabric regenerated from post-consumer waste, Atlas Label is committed to producing high-quality, environmentally friendly pieces that are designed to last a long time. The Cape Town brand offers quick-drying swimsuits and quality wetsuits crafted with a considered approach that employs a transparent supply chain system, which traces the origins of its materials such as Japanese limestone neoprene, recycled PET furry liner and regenerated Italian Lycra.
Placing sustainability at the heart of its operation and creating pieces with circularity in mind, Atlas Label promotes product longevity by offering free repairs for its swimwear, ensuring that they remain functional for as long as possible.