shoreline . by the yard
The essence of beautifully printed textiles is storytelling. It is this way of reflecting the world back at us as wearable poetry and art turned into personal style, that has captured my heart.
Every print I create begins with the poetry of plain cloth and a story I wish to tell. Adorning cotton and khadi cloth with colours and prints is ancient tradition. Applying wax, colour & water to create beautiful batik has been known since Samson & Delilah. The simplicity of these elements and processes paired with their cultural depth and ancient wisdom adds a rich and universal backbone to the stories I create on cloth.
It is all of the above and so much more that has been my pursuit for the past 10yrs with Choolips. Choolips was designed to be my space to explore my creative fibre, a sacred space to host my creations. Choolips, a brand? Never. A womenswear brand is what it was branded. However, let me clarify. I chose fashion as a powerful vehicle to tell a story and to drive my vision of change. My intention was not to run a 'powerful' fashion brand, but rather to harness the power of fashion to show that our wearable luxuries can be the drivers for a fair and positive future for planet and people. Most of us wear cloth or clothes and with fashion being one of our largest industry, its reach is undeniable. It's expression of beauty in personal style makes it a potent tool to build culture, compassion and positive change.
When an idea has its time it flies and that is exactly what happened to my Choolips back in 2007. I went from my refined concept of a mini capsule of three dresses and two prints to heading up a 'pioneering' fashion brand. Our products flew into stores and off shelves into peoples wardrobes. It does honestly boggle my mind how fortunate I was to be one of the first to contribute to contemporary fashion coming out of Africa bringing it to global attention with the support of some amazing individuals spearheading change at Topshop and Asos. It was a special time. To see my idea that I had trusted and crafted for two years come to fruition and take momentum of such scale is unforgettable. It was extra special, as despite all commercial demand for Choolips', I managed to keep it true to all authentic techniques, whilst creating something bold, culturally profound and yet global. It was radical, I suppose. I will stick with that way of doing and this is why the 'brand' box is pure limitation. I have outgrown it and the things I wish to say with my work have vastly and with the years exponentially expanded.
The first collection of Choolips prints told a story of resources precious to the African continent. I started with water, fish and coffee and the first prints were a fish scale and a coffee bean. Water has been a recurring theme in my work and the conversation about water in our processes has become more and more important to me as a designer and human. Water pollution and waste in the fashion and textile industries are very serious conversations that have been circling around my mind for years. I started to feel that we could only produce what was actually ordered in order to avoid access waste in production, access of product in our stock room and on the shop floors. Every order become a special treat and the sense of luxury of our art and our products started to really blossom. It's a beautiful way to work knowing that every dress you create ends up with a home.
Simultaneously I had a deep urge to bring everything right back to the simplicity of a piece of cloth, water, colour, thread and stories. I wanted people to have the freedom to create with our prints what they wished, may it be clothing, interior or art. What do we know what people may create with a yard of Choolips print rather then a collection of garments?!
The tradition of buying cloth by the yards to tailor your own garments is prominent across the whole African continent. It's a tradition that inspires as a vital part of creative expression, a distinct trademark of African fashion tradition, not forgetting the tradition of wearing cloth as sacred ornaments, working it as body wraps, decor and head pieces. That's the stories of personal style we want to invoke.
Our first 'by the yard' collection tells the story that connects us all, our favourite story, the story of water. We called it 'shoreline' as it was inspired by Ghana's beautiful shoreline. This awe inspiring part of the world is under threat from fast tidal erosion due to rising ocean levels and the over fishing by large scale trawler corporations. I wanted to capture some of its hypnotising essence and give you that story to tell in your way.
I snug in a few old favourites, amongst them our 'fish scale' print! Yes, bringing it right back in a new colour way.
If you need a tailor or seamstress to make you some lovely garments, a sharp tie or interior product from our yards, get in touch and we can fix you up with someone sharp in London town or maybe even Ghana. Email us with your enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org