SUNO Clothing: Fair Fibers + Fair Trade + Modern Pattern Mixing

October 18, 2009

Modern, genuine and respectful African-inspired clothing.

After a manipulated, messy and violent 2007 presidential elections in Kenya, screenwriter and vintage textile collector, Max Osterweis responded by developing SUNO clothing. His first collection, showcased this past spring in New York, consisted of 1000+ individually numbered, one of a kind pieces incorporating vintage Kenyan kangas created in workshops in Kenya and NYC.

The kanga is a versatile East African fabric which was originally sold as various printed patterns within a single bolt of fabric, allowing women to cut individually as kerchiefs, baby-slings or as a single garment. Similar in concept to the Indian sari, the kanga is colorful fabric that can be tied into hundreds of dress and accessory options.

Personally, I'm a little severe on Westerners who dress in excessively ethnic clothing. Women who unabashedly litter their wardrobe with salwar kameezes or unisex dashikis can quickly look like a cause-marketing campaign. If they’re under 30, they’ll appear a bit backpacker-ish. If over 30, chances are they’ll look like my creative writing teacher in high school.

But Osterweis’ concept is to repurpose the traditional kanga for the fashionable city girl while respectfully providing jobs and business opportunities for Kenyans. These pleated, textured and outspoken pieces are tres global chic without appearing like you’ve just returned from a drum circle.

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