If you’re not familiar with Ethiopian textiles, here’s your chance. Melbourne designer Rahma Mohamed works with traditional artisans in Ethiopia to make custom fabrics for her one-year-old brand, Rahma.
The spring/summer line builds on her debut collection, this time with a handful of matching transeasonal separates featuring diamond and herringbone weaves in a muted palette.
Rahma was born out of Mohamed’s love for the Ethiopian textiles she grew up with but “couldn’t wear outside of the traditional context”. The label is also Mohamed’s way of challenging our perception of African fashion. “People think everything with a pattern must be African, but you can’t define [Africa] as a whole. My parents couldn’t look at an ‘African’ print and say ‘I relate to that’, so I wanted to make my clothes specific, local and true to the roots.”
Those roots are in Ethiopian cotton weaving and textile making – local skills Mohamed hopes to keep supporting. Her collections use made-to-order fabrics in an effort to minimise wastage, and manufacturing is done at a UN-certified factory.
While we’re on the topic of knowing how and where your clothes are made, here’s one designer trying to cut out some of the work for you.
Alongside the size and material of a garment, Lois Hazel’s online store lists where she bought each component, whether that’s the fabric, zips or lining.
But even for a designer, it’s tricky to identify the entire supply chain. Hazel’s aim now is to know as much as she possibly can “so people can start a conversation about everyone involved in making a garment”.
The clothes themselves look simple – Hazel admits to being a “comfort dresser” – but each piece is elevated with detailing. Spot the pleats, ties and trims that add excitement to some very wearable clothes.
Hazel previously worked with New York design house Marchesa and Amsterdam-based couturier Iris Van Herpen, so her clothes are made with intricate techniques honed overseas.
“When I design, I want to make sure it’s not just a shirt, but a shirt with extra detail,” she says. “I like creating things that are easy to wear and beautiful to touch.”
This is the newest brand on the list; it’s only been in stores for a little over two weeks. Designer Alice Goulter has a background in streetwear spanning 10 years and she remains head designer at Stussy.
Sample is a big departure from the graphic-heavy garments of Goulter’s day job – the first drop contains feminine wrap dresses, bang-on-trend culottes, jumpsuits and soft cotton tees.
So why the move? “I wanted the opportunity to do something more fashion-based, focused on finishes and fabrics, and then retail that to the streetwear market where I think there’s an opening,” Goulter explains. “For Sample, I looked at classic pieces I’ve always had in my wardrobe that I wanted to reinvent.”
At the moment the brand is delivering 12 pieces per month, with the aim of producing seasonally in future. Keep your eyes peeled for a swimwear line as well.