Vivienne Westwood Autumn-Winter 2022 Made in Kenya collection

Alongside Artisan Fashion, Vivienne Westwood aim to put upcycling and global textile waste on the agenda – moving this accessories collection into a space where circularity informs design.

Since 2010, Vivienne Westwood has been producing an accessories line in Kenya thanks to a collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) of the International Trade Centre – a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation – which currently supports the work of thousands of artisan micro-producers from marginalised African communities.

Since 2015, these handcrafted accessories have been manufactured through the EFI social enterprise in East Africa – Artisan Fashion, which specialises in the production of high-end accessories with community groups of artisans. Originally an EFI project, Artisan Fashion is now a completely independent and successful business due in part to the continued workflow from Vivienne Westwood, which supports 1,270 artisans. This season (AW22), 74% of all the artisans employed by Artisan Fashion are women and 42% of artisans invested their income in education, training and skills development.

In East Africa, Kenya is the major importer of second-hand clothes – importing nearly 200,000 tons each year to be sold at dedicated Mitumba markets. The challenge is that much of the clothing or textile waste end up in dump sites or burnt on open fires, along riverbeds and washed out into the sea, with severe consequences on local people and the planet.

Developing the Autumn-Winter 2022 Made in Kenya collection, Vivienne Westwood and Artisan Fashion delved into material sourcing and how this could shape the design of the collection for the future. Looking at supply from Mitumba markets, that so often end up as waste, and approaching the collection design to repurpose them as a raw material. The collection aims to grow more circular economies, that are necessary for our industry to reduce its environmental footprint.

Second-hand garments at Toi Market, Kibera, Nairobi.
Second-hand garments at Toi Market, Kibera, Nairobi.
Clinton deconstructs denim preparing the fabric for upcycling.
Clinton deconstructs denim preparing the fabric for upcycling.

For this season we have began working to upcycle denim from the second-hand garment ‘mitumba’ markets- which is then handcrafted into a patchwork. The large rolls of patchwork denim are screen printed with the Vivienne Westwood monogram graphic and then constructed into the Westwood designed Worker Shopper bag. The bags are then hand-finished with upcycled metal hardware – creating a product that pioneers upcycling and supports artisanal skill development, in place of aid dependency.

Second-hand denim from the Toi Market.
Second-hand denim from the Toi Market.
Second-hand denim from the Toi Market.
Second-hand denim from the Toi Market.
Sajero, Head of Screen Printing, has been with Artisan Fashion from the beginning. Here he is seen printing the upcycled denim for our Worker Shopper bag.
Sajero, Head of Screen Printing, has been with Artisan Fashion from the beginning. Here he is seen printing the upcycled denim for our Worker Shopper bag.

For the wider collection this season, there are many recycled or repurposed materials including; brass, aluminium, bottle caps, coffee sacks, wood and glass, and by-products, such as palm and cow horn. This fosters the creation of local supply chains of recycled and upcycled materials, and draws attention to the importance of recycling and reusing waste in the local community.

Rangau Designers Studio, Korogocho, Nairobi where brass artisans create hardware from recycled metal.
Rangau Designers Studio, Korogocho, Nairobi where brass artisans create hardware from recycled metal.
All our products pass through Susan's reliable hands. She has been with Artisan Fashion since the very beginning.
All our products pass through Susan's reliable hands. She has been with Artisan Fashion since the very beginning.

The hardware used to finish the Made in Kenya accessories are handcrafted by Rangau Designers – a community team of brass artisans, based in Korogocho, Nairobi. It was with founders Anthony and his wife Benta where the journey with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) began in 2010. Anthony was one of the first people to work on the Westwood collection, the team spent a number of years building Anthony's skills and over 12 years, Anthony and his wife have built a successful community business of artisans. The hardware they create is crafted from old recycled taps, padlocks, scrap car and fridge parts – crafting this otherwise waste material into Westwood orbs, penis pendants and the more functional parrot clips and sliders for the accessories.

Together with the support of the main Artisan Fashion hub they have produced over 13,000 pieces (up to 2021) for Vivienne Westwood. The community has been able to provide stable employment to 25 artisans throughout the year – all young adults, usually former fishermen from the north region of Kenya neighbouring Uganda, now trained in metalwork. With this work they are able to secure consistent income for their families.

Beka Kwa Bega, a community of 13 women based in the Korogocho slum in Nairobi, where our African journey began.
Beka Kwa Bega, a community of 13 women based in the Korogocho slum in Nairobi, where our African journey began.
Violet, AF's Community Officer, is developing the large macramé bag, a style that will be produced for SS23.
Violet, AF's Community Officer, is developing the large macramé bag, a style that will be produced for SS23.

The original mission of Artisan Fashion and the Ethical Fashion Initiative was to mobilise the value chain of international luxury fashion to create employment opportunities and economic development for marginalised communities. Now, alongside Artisan Fashion, Vivienne Westwood aim to put upcycling and global textile waste on the agenda – moving this collection into a space where circularity informs design decisions.

Taking small steps, Westwood aims to work with Artisan Fashion toward a collection that not only places people, communities and artisanal skill development at the centre, but looks to  create a collection in the most conscious way possible – cultivating circular economies that are vital for our industry to be truly responsible for its impact on the planet.

Members of the Oldanyati Women Group, a Maasai beading community with 30 members based in Kiserian, Kajiado County, on the outskirts of Nairobi. This community group has beaded Vivienne Westwood Made in Kenya accessories since SS12.
Members of the Oldanyati Women Group, a Maasai beading community with 30 members based in Kiserian, Kajiado County, on the outskirts of Nairobi. This community group has beaded Vivienne Westwood Made in Kenya accessories since SS12.

Read Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Cookie Policy