Last week, while scrolling through the “discovery” feature of my Instagram, I came across beautiful accessories by 31 Bits. When I clicked to see what this was about, I discovered a project that uses fashion and design to empower people to rise above poverty. This automatically made me think of TRUTHFUL CONSUMERISM, the trend I worked with TrendWatching during Q1, and the rise of Africa in the design world. Sometimes items are African inspired, other times MADE IN AFRICA! I wanted to share some designers across the African continent that are creating bag collections focusing on traditional artisanship and local materials.
All this made me want to research all the worth-knowing African brands that are making a difference with their project and are aligned with the ideas within the Truthful Consumerism consumer trend. Consumers should be aware of designers that are building businesses that speak of a luxury rooted in socially expensive and environmentally conscious production. The brands I will talk about source local artisans to weave bags and transforming endangered traditions into sustainable livelihoods.
31BITS empowers people through fashion and design. All of their products are carefully crafted by hand by skilled artisans in Uganda and Indonesia. Their model creates dignified work opportunities for artisans worldwide while providing customers with a place to purchase fairly made products. Their artisans receive sustainable wages in a safe and joyful working environment. The company also provides ways to improve their local communities and support their families.
Their beaded products are made in Uganda from rolled up paper, sealed with a water-based varnish. Making beads from paper is a technique found throughout Eastern Africa. Their metal products and accents are made in Indonesia by skilled artisans who have spent years learning the craft. Metal jewelry used to be a much bigger industry in Indonesia, but has significantly decreased over the last decade. By giving artisans access to the global market, 31Bits helps to preserve this beautiful, traditional technique.
Everything the company does is funded through product sales. That means every time our customers make a purchase, they are having a direct impact on the lives of our artisans and their families.
APRELLEDUANY is an Africa-inspired leather accessories and lifestyle brand breaking boundaries and telling the story of Africa through a unique luxury leather experience. By fusing craftsmanship and heritage with an untold story of Africa, APRELLEDUANY is deconstructing the singular narratives that drive perceptions of Africa and the luxury industry to create a new experience focused on relevance, authenticity, and accessibility.
With her vibrant and versatile design aesthetic, founder Aprelle Duany has created a collection of high end leathergoods, handcrafted leather handbags, and lifestyle accessories that are inspired by women who dare to blaze new pathways. Proudly handcrafted in Kenya, these designs tell the untold stories of female African pioneers. Stories of empowerment.
When Sandstorm Kenya started, they used to make luxury safari tents. Today they apply the same skills and materials to build beautiful bags at their workshop in Karen, just outside Nairobi.
Their aim is to operate at all times on firm ethical principles and as a company that takes their responsibilities to the employees, and their relationships with the suppliers very seriously. The best part is that they operate an open door policy and if you’re in Nairobi and you’d like to see how they make their bags at first hand you can get in touch and visit them.
Founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, AAKS uses weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. The essence of A A K S design philosophy is a complex combination of thoughts, design element which come from a critical attention to craftsmanship, authenticity and ethical values in their production ; while having a strong sense of identity and quality. Each collection silhouette is unique and tells a different story through detail, colour and shape. Handcrafted in Ghana, the brand creates bags in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts characterised by bright exuberant colours.