Its a scary thought that there is said to be some 20 million assault rifles in various parts of the African continent; the remains of deadly conflicts used to terrorise innocent victims and leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. Several initiatives have emerged to help fund and support the removal of these weapons; with some turning to ingenious solutions towards highlighting the problem, as seen with metalwork sculptor Gonçalo Mabunda
and his chairs made from machine guns. In 2009 Peter Thum and John Zapolski met at a TED conference, both had had first-hand experiences of the destructive effects these type of weapons have and together sought to find a lasting solution to help address the issue. Peter and John wanted a solution that would be about beauty and craft and founded Fonderie 47
; a business that takes confiscated AK-47's, turning them into meticulously crafted jewellery pieces.
Transforming the tools of destruction into ones of prosperity by using traditional melding techniques, Fonderie 47 reworks the steel components, reshaping it's value and perceptions into an object of beauty, in the form of rare and very expensive jewellery pieces that are combined with other precious metals like gold. Constructed with mechanical and precision engineering hallmarks of jewellery makers, Philip Crangi and Roland Iten, the designs are quite hard-edged, sculptural and masculine in form.
Each piece created means the destruction of several machines. The mechanical cuff links, that snap together to form a bracelet are a limited edition numbered series and each set produced means the destruction of 100 Assault rifles; the individually designed men's rings, each etched with the serial numbers of the rifles they used to be equate to the destruction of seventy-five rifles; and the earrings see in the region of five hundred. Sales of the jewellery feeds into the Fonderie 47 Foundation which finances organisations like the Mines Advisory Group; an organization which has been tasked by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to demolish weapons.
...when you see what can be produced makes you wonder why the need to create something so destructive in the first place
Additional information sourced from:
Additional information sourced from:
Jewellery pieces priced at: USD23,000 for earrings and USD$35,000 for the cuff links/bracelet
For further information about Fonderie 47 visit: http://fonderie47.com
Attending an all girl’s school, my senior school uniform was not the most attractive thing, well at least until I entered sixth form. In the summer terms it was a short-sleeved belted green and white check affair that was far from figure flattering, improving in the winter term when it changed to a bottle green tunic and a khaki long sleeved blouse complete with tie, both styles would be topped off with bottle green cardigans or pullovers. Sixth form brought a much more smarter grown up look in bottle green a-line skirts, khaki short and long sleeved blouses which we were allowed to wear with stockings and dark brown high-heeled court shoes when representing the school; the perks of finally having reached the top of the school chain. We felt grown and it showed in our attitudes holding ourselves that bit taller wherever we went. Donned with a bottle green blazer these uniforms instilled in us a sense of pride and belonging to the school whether or not we realised it at the time. FIGS
is a luxury neckwear label that recognises the role school uniforms have in the educational experience and partners with local weavers and tailors around the world in making school uniforms for the students in their local communities for whom buying a uniform would be difficult but is often a requirement of attending school.
[Image credits: top, George Silk Woven Ties; bottom, Silk Elephant Polo and Yacht Ties - FIGS]
FIGS stands for 'Fashion Inspired Global Sophistication' and was set up in 2010 by American social entrepreneur, Heather Hasson who was inspired by a love of fashion and her travels from Northern Kenya to Rome. Using high quality silks, woollens, linens, cashmeres and cottons; Heather developed a stylish collection of tailored ties and bow ties in quirky and classic prints and colour schemes, that are hand sewn in New York and Los Angeles.
[Image credit: Astaire Velvet Bow Tie - FIGS]
FIGS is a business with a global outlook and brings together a community of artists, entrepreneurs, students and professionals who are looking to make a positive impact. Setting up an initiative called ‘Threads for Threads’ FIGS currently partners with 105 schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Nepal; and with every product sold donates an entire school uniform to a child who needs to go to school. FIGS also have a range of luxuriously soft cashmere scarves made from natural un-dyed fibres.
...helping you take pride in your appearance no matter where you are or what you do
Additional details:Prices on the website range from: USD$55-USD$225
For further information about FIGS visit: www.wearfigs.com
Keep a Child Alive
Today is World AIDS day, and last month whilst reading up on Keep A Child Alive’s
annual fundraising event I came across the headline stating that June 5th 2011 marked 30 years since the first diagnosed case of Aids; I was shocked that it has actually been that long; I am old enough to remember the epidemic taking hold in the late Eighties/early Nineties and the subsequent discussions surrounding the disease; the hushed tones, unspoken words, the stigma, the unexplained deaths and the beginning of awareness campaigns. I was young, but was still acutely aware of the fear, misunderstandings. 30 years on...has much changed? ...well living in the West has meant access to life enhancing medicines; anti-retroviral drugs that have resulted in those with the disease living relatively long, healthy lives; whilst those in the countries hardest hit predominantly Africa, India and East Europe see a lottery when it's comes to accessing much needed the life saving drugs, with people's lives literally been held to ransom… simply put it's not fair! And what's even more crazy is that the UK has seen a rise in HIV cases
(granted not on the scale of other areas of the world) over the last few years attributed to a decline in public knowledge due to fewer awareness campaigns; so it doesn't look like the disease will be eradicated any time soon, so what to?
HIV/AIDS focused initiatives and organisations have sprung up to help generate the funds needed to support communities hit the hardest and creativity has played its part in providing a lifeline to improving quality of living, no matter how small and giving those affected, directly or indirectly, a sense of purpose. And yes, it has been a struggle but there have been inspiring stories that make you stop and reflect on your own life. One organisation that has captured the attention of many is ‘Keep A Child Alive
’, co-founded by musician Alicia Keys and began life in 2002 through one mother’s desperate search in Mombasa, Kenya to get anti-retrovirals for her three year-old son. Today Keep A Child Alive works in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and India, and has also worked in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, primarily focusing on Treatment - helping people get access to the medication they wouldn't normally be able to afford, Care - providing food and a place to stay to help people take care of of themselves to stay healthy, Children - victims of the catastrophe often left alone to cope with the traumas or fend for themselves and Awareness - helping to prevent and protect present and future generations. Visit the website
for detailed information about Keep A Child Alive’s work, its origins and get a copy of the financials. Based in New York, Keep a Child Alive runs a range of fundraising initiatives to raise much needed funds and these include the Black Ball held annually since 2004, as well as retailing products created in partnership with some of the communities the organisation works with. There is also a UK branch
of the organisation based in London, which holds its own programme of fundraising events.
You can get involved by starting your own Keep A Child Alive campaign; further information and toolkits are available to help you get started, or support the cause by purchasing some of the items they have on sale, including t-shirts, bags, cards and jewellery. The greeting cards shown were made by women in the KwaZulu Natal region, Durban, South Africa and bring together various the skills of those involved... if you haven’t bought your Christmas cards yet would be ideal. Wonderfully bright and all patched up, the Ineza Tote bag was made by the women of Ineza Women’s Cooperative, which is based at Keep A Child Alive’s Centreville Clinic in Rwanda. Due to the variations of the fabrics used each is one-of-a-kind.
Signifying the power to unlock hearts and minds, the Key to Life is a pendant of encased diamonds set in 18carat white gold and was designed by Ghanaian entrepreneur Alexander Amosu and manufactured by Simmons Jewelry Co and sees 65% of the purchase price from each sale going to the charity. Conscious not to replace one tragedy with another, the diamonds used are conflict free and each key is numbered. Retailing at USD$5,000 and more than just an expensive fashion statement, one key sold provides 18 HIV patients with a year's supply of drugs as well as receiving continual support from the KCA treatment centres.
…this post is dedicated in memory of Melody and all those children like her who fought a long hard battle, and to to those who are still fighting; one day...
Greeting cards (6 pack) priced at: USD$20
Ineza Tote bags priced at: USD$30
The Key To Life pendant priced at: USD$5000At present products only ship wihin the US
For further information about the Keep A Child Alive foundation, about its initiatives and to become involved visit: http://keepachildalive.org
Fashion. love, Africa
Africa is a continent of great paradoxes; unimaginable beauty sits alongside areas of unimaginable poverty both providing emotive images that have served to brand the continent to the outside world. Whilst the battle to improve the continent’s image goes on, so to does the need for the continued establishment of successful, sustainable businesses in Africa that can offer decent employment opportunities and a means to improve livelihoods within disadvantaged communities, ensuring that everyone can join in the prosperity, well-being and sense of achievement. This need becomes ever more clear when confronted with some of the indescribable situations people are forced into just to make it through a day, and this applies all over the world.
I was thumbing through a recent copy of Essence magazine when I came across a brightly coloured bag by Fashion. love, Africa
featured in one of the fashion stories; so off course had to check it out and in the process got a lot more than I bargained for. Like the bags they sell, Fashion. Love, Africa is a colourful site portraying a sense of hope and optimism; so needed when you read the story behind it. Located Northwest of Nakuru Kenya is the Gioto Garbage dumping site, which is also a source of food, clothing and shelter to 140 families and nearly 300 children. Most of the families who have made their homes amongst the waste are headed by single mothers and grandmothers and nearly all are victims of rape, abuse and HIV. I don’t think my writing will do justice to the conditions of the Gioto Garbage dumping site so please visit and read The Gioto Garbage Slum
project, set up by a local Pastor and his wife in Nakuru along with a volunteer from Northern Ireland.
Fashion. love, Africa was established to help provide a means of income to the families and make a difference, and designs the bags which are then hand crocheted by the women living in the hazardous conditions of the slum. The bags are made from post consumer plastic bags sourced by the women from the dumping site. Each completed bag is then purchased directly from the woman who made it helping to ensure a consistent flow of income. The bags are striking and perfect for everyday use from a handbag with your personal items to a shopper. Fashion. love, Africa’s immediate goal is to purchase a 5000 square foot of land to re-house an estimated 25 families and USD$10 from the profits made after the sale of each bag goes into a fund to aid relocation, child sponsorship, medical assistance and a savings and loans programme.
Lets enjoy the beautiful inspired things coming out of Africa; but at the same time lets make sure we also strive to uplift those in danger of being left behind. Yes, we want and need to turn around the negative perceptions but it would also be a great injustice to gloss over the harsh realities in an effort to do so.
...Taking garbage and turning it into beautiful products you just want to have proves that when hopes and dreams turn into reality amazing things can happen.
Prices on the website: USD$50
For further information visit: fashionloveafrica.com
For further information on The Gioto Garbage Slum Project visit: www.garbageslum.org
Vivienne Westwood/ International Trade Centre
…I know I’m rather late with this one, even though I’ve had it on my radar for a while. Anyhoo, if you're looking for some glamour when it comes to your eco friendly shopper then check out Vivienne Westwood’s designs for Gold Label Spring/Summer 2011
. In collaboration with the United Nations International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Programme
the bags are handmade in Kenya and make use of recycled materials. Originally available in three designs - a quick check of the web shows you’ll be lucky to still have your pick as they’ve been snapped up fast having already launched in February. The ‘Get a Life
’ shopper is made from roadside advertising banners and discarded safari tents, finished with leather straps. The ‘Quilted Orb
’ shopper is made from canvas and has a patchwork fabric orb image and tassels. The ‘Heart Gaia
’ shopper is also made from recycled canvas and has hand embroidery detailing. All bag styles have a patchwork lining made from recycled clothing.
The International Trade Centre's
work is based on the philosophy of 'aid for trade', helping developing countries around the world to build upon trade related skills and create sustainable livelihoods. The organisation works with over 7000 women, who often live in areas of extreme poverty to help provide jobs and skills training, all of which goes towards providing for their families and improving their lives. Information on some of the community groups involved in the programme can be found here
. The Ethical Fashion Programme has in the past expressed an interest in hearing from African fashion designers who are keen on exploring the possibilities of collaborations, for details contact their website directly.
Because of the fabrics used each bag will be different, making them one-of-a-kind.
Prices on the Vivienne Westwood website: £100 / USD$135
For further information and to purchase visit: www.viviennewestwood.co.uk
Also available on: www.yoox.com
To find out about the Ethical Fashion Programme visit: www.intracen.org/ethicalfashion