Not heard of The African Shirt Company yet? You soon will. It launched just five months ago – yet the company, founded by Joan Hughes and Lindi Clause-Campbell, who spoke exclusively to Grazia this week for our big fashion issue, is already proving to be a hit amongst trendy East London tribes. What’s more, it’s also lending a life-line to the people of Kiteghe, Kenya, who are blighted by drought, malnutrition and unemployment.
If you don’t have yours yet, read on…
1. They’re one of a kind. (No, really.)
Each one of these shirts is made from unique Kanga print, found in Kenya. A new Kanga design is made every other week, and once a pattern runs out it will never be reprinted, meaning that the shirts are incredibly rare and irreplaceable.
2. They look unbelievably cool.
Look at them. Now look again. Look back at your own shirt. Now look at these shirts. I think you know what we mean.
3. They’re handmade.
Each shirt is put together using hand-operated sewing machines, and made with 100% cotton – meaning they’re meticulously made and incredibly comfy, without compromising on style. (Who knew? Fashion that doesn’t hurt!)
4. They’re handmade by people who really need your help.
Whilst we’re frantically rummaging in our wardrobes for something (ANYTHING) to wear, most children in the Kenyan village of Kiteghe have already walked half of thier ten-mile trek to the nearest well to fetch water for their families.
The village is blighted by crippling poverty and drought. The landscape is desolate and barren, since its people have long been cutting down trees for building and fuel, meaning their only hope of living sustainably off the land is lost.
Children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic are growing up in extreme conditions – if they grow up at all. But, The African Shirt Company is trying to change that. By educating local people about conservation, teaching them to sew and run and a business, and an income they so desperately need they’re giving hope to the next generation of Kiteghe.
5. They’re the brainchild of two SUPER COOL girls.
Joan Hughes and Lindi Campbell-Cause dreamt up The African Shirt Company whilst on a visit to the Kenyan region in 2009. Joan, a fashion designer, and Lindi, a conservationist, were moved by the deprivation – and inspired to create a company that would help them out of poverty.
‘The cities were full of homeless people who just didn’t know how to provide for themselves,’ Joan told Grazia. ‘We just wanted to help.’
Not only this, both the girls are running the company whilst holding down full-time jobs. Pretty impressive, say we.
Joan Hughes, The African Shirt Company
Lindi Clause-Campbell, The African Shirt Company, in Kiteghe, Kenya
6. Did we mention they look incredibly cool?
And by buying one (come on, do you really need any more reasons?) you know you’ve helped turn someone’s life around. GOOD OLD YOU.