Today I wanted to highlight a designer that’s making a big splash during Fashion Week in New York. The lable is Suno, and it was designed by Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis.
The two started Suno back in 2008. Their goal was to help Kenya by promoting fair trade fabrics in their line. After spending over a decade traveling to Kenya, they knew it was a country overflowing with talent and goodwill. But because of the ‘08 elections, they feared the country might be shut off from visitors. So they started a company, Suno, to employ Kenyan workers and showcase some of the country’s amazing talent.
Each piece is designed and patterned in New York. Suno then brings those patterns to Kenya, where local artists, using local textiles, craft each piece in small workshops. And, all their artisans are paid fair trade wages.
Now, 12 years later, Suno is still going strong and starting to gain some real attention (via NY Times, Marie Claire, Glamour, NY Magazine…the list goes on and on).
Their collections are awesome and unique, full of bright colors and interesting patterns.
When they first started out, the designers at Suno ran into the same problems we did when we started. That is, they wanted to employ local workers to do the most good. But getting production quality up to standardswas difficult at best, since local artisans don’t have the same expectations that US consumers have.
Suno has also had to control their growth, since large-scale production in Kenya just isn’t possible, at least not right now.
What I love most about their label is that it’s obvious they still have their fun bone attached: their 2010 Resort Collection is showcased via a streaming video. You get to see the collection on models, yes. But the models are zipping down the road on roller skates, being pulled by a car trailing a bright pink ski rope. And the soundtrack? It’s a song straight out of Miami’s Little Havana.
It’s great fun to watch.
Keep an eye out for Suno, especially if you’re in NY. The label is fun and vibrant, and I’d love to see more of their pieces out on the street. Especially since they’re making such a positive impact with Kenyan workers!
Filed under: Eco Fashion on September 13th, 2010