I love Af. I’ve been to two countries – Rwanda in East Africa and Nigeria in West Africa. There’s no place like it, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

One of my favorite design aspects of Africa are the patterns and fabrics. I love the fabric. I’ve always wished more designers incorporated the cloth used so often in sub-Saharan Africa. Bright, bold, and zesty.

Here are a few organizations and shops that are using designers from Africa to share its fashion with the world.

31 Bits

31 Bits Jewelry

Kallie Dovel, traveled to Uganda in the summer of 2007, getting a first- hand look at life in Northern Uganda. While she was there, she met women making paper beads but who lacked a plan to market and sell them. After spending time in their homes and hearing their stories, Kallie knew there had to be a way to give opportunities to her new friends. She brought a box of jewelry back to the U.S., and spent the next year finishing her degree and dreaming up the concept of a development organization. She brought a few friends on board and her ideas quickly evolved into 31 Bits. The girls traveled back to Uganda in August 2008, and selected six women to begin buying jewelry from on a monthly basis. Since then, we have grown to 99 women; each with a unique story of suffering that has been overcome with joy and liberation. Find out more about what we do in Uganda here.

Amy Kathryn Handbags 

Amy Kathryn Handbags

  • made by women in Rwanda
  • proceeds go to Gahaya Links and the women that made the handbag
  • hand woven, round fastener made of raffia and silk thread
  • interior zipper pocket with black fabric interior lining
  • clutch has a great structure
  • each bag is unique, using fabric shown

MADE Africa Jewelry

MADE Africa Jewelry

Made by the people for the people, the fair trade fashion accessories company was founded in November 2005 by Cristina Cisilino and Gerson Barnett. Made‘s main objective is to provide employment and promote sustainable, ethical trade in Africa.

Made Africa was established in 2008 as an independent charity working in partnership with Made and other NGO’s in Africa. The charity’s mission is to promote educational and training projects in Africa.

As far as I can tell all of these products are designed by Africans, made by Africans, and the money goes back to them – not just designed based on Africa, going into the pockets of some big design company. Way cooler than some cheap dirty knock off of someone else’s design and made in a sweatshop.

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