YSL's Muse Two Artisinal Recycled Bag: Textile made in Burkina Faso
Late last year, Prada launched a 'Made In' range, shifting the spotlight of production from Italy to local artisans in Peru, Scotland, Japan and India in its bid to focus on other instances of craftsmanship. If you've followed our Made in Africa observations, you'll already know that it's becoming more popular for designers and brands all over the world to include Africa's plethora of co-ops in production, since they offer the sort of beauty that's ethical, cost effective, and charitable. Let's face it: the 'Made in Africa by a women's co-operative' model, while somewhat over-used (feel free to disagree) has carved its own niche and is here to stay. At least a for a while. The latest well-known entrant? Yves Saint Laurent.
There's a whole page (Page 86) in Harper's Bazaar's April 2011 UK edition dedicated to the eco movement and we were delighted to read that YSL's Stefano Pilati 'enlisted artisans in Burkina Faso to produce an ethical version of the label's bestselling bag using textiles made from recycled plastic bags and woven cotton' [Harper's Bazaar, emphasis ours]. The artisans responsible? Women from the Gafreh Association (supported by Les Filles du Facteur), who work with 'recycled plastic bags collected in different cities and villages of the country', which are then 'cut into thin strips, assembled, woven and transformed into distinctive pieces for the contemporary home and fashion markets' [Sidim]. To be clear, the bags were not constructed in Burkina Faso, but the unique textile used to create a limited edition of 60 of them was, and that's to the credit of these women.
l-r: Awa Sanou, one of Gafreh's artisans; a bag produced by Gafreh
We firmly believe that it'll take the concerted and continuous effort of international and national agencies to develop and sustain the frameworks that allow these types of collaborations to be possible, and it'll take a demand for the Made in Africa product by Africans and non-Africans alike for this model to bring the highest returns for the greatest number of people. It shouldn't be a patchy occurrence - we're asking for a full-blown movement.
Discover some of the women behind Gafreh here, some of their other creations here, and buy YSL's Muse Two Artisinal bag here.