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Made in Africa — New Diesel + EDUN Fall 2013 Collection Pays Homage to the Continent’s Beauty

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If you’re a fashion lover, a social activist, a champion of global commerce, or a die-hard U2 fan, chances are that, by now, you have than a passing acquaintance with EDUN, the clothing line Bono co-founded with his wife Ali Hewson in 2005. Bono and Hewson have spent much of their lives thinking about how to address many of the problems plaguing the African continent — how to curtail the AIDS epidemic, how to provide educational resources and health care to children in need, and how to help communities create their own self-sustaining local economies. Rather than launching a company that would give part of its profits to Africa, then, Hewson envisioned EDUN (which takes its name from the word “nude” spelled backwards) as having a fair-trade business model that would jumpstart localized economies by tapping sourcing materials indigenous to these areas, relying on the handiwork of local artisans, and even creating factories within these regions  and providing workers with any training necessary to work therein. The clothing manufactured would then be sold all over the globe, with the profits being redirected to Africa for further growth and development. What’s always been refreshing about Hewson and Bono’s approach is that it’s never had colonizing overtones — there’s never been this “we-know-what’s-best-and-will-impose-it-upon-you” attitude that Westerners so often showcase. They’ve always celebrated and respected the traditions of each tribal community they’ve encountered, and have attempted to empower them without tampering with their cultural norms.

Though EDUN faced financial troubles during its early years — which Hewson has publicly stated was due to them focusing too heavily on their mission and not being quite as vigilant about the design and quality of the products sold — its luck has turned around since 2009, when the couple sold 49% of the company to LVMH and, in doing so, acquired the resources necessary to hire the creative talent needed to breathe new life into the line’s designs. Nowadays, EDUN’s laid-back chic designs can be spotted at such high-end stores as Barneys. And, of course, Bono and Hewson have remained steadfast about their mission and have opened eight factories in Africa to manufacture their clothing.

Amazing, right? Well, Diesel certainly thinks so! This Fall/Winter, Diesel has collaborated with EDUN for a second time to create a collection of ultra-cool, urban, edgy garments that are consistent with Diesel’s young cosmopolitan aesthetic but are also inspired by Africa. All the pieces in the new Diesel + EDUN collection were sourced and manufactured in Africa.

The women’s collection is rife with blue and black tones, a nod  to the traditionally nomadic Tuareg people who inhabit countries like Niger and Mali and who don foulards in these hues. This color combination can be seen in pieces like the dip-dyed, long-sleeved jersey tee ($128 at Diesel.com), as pictured last above. Deeper indigo blues and rich blacks, meanwhile, are meant to celebrate starry nights in the African desert. This color combination appears in an above-the-knee jersey dress ($168 at Diesel.com), shown first above, which features  a draped, asymmetrical neckline and short sleeves, along with a dip-dyed effect that makes the prominent black color fade into a vibrant blue along the hemline.

True to Diesel’s roots, denim plays a huge part in the collection, with many of the styles inspired by the four-pocket jeans popular in South Africa in the 1970s. To modernize the style and add a hint of Euro-glam panache, styles like the Quinz jean ($258 at Diesel.com), shown in metallic blue second from top, were treated with a hot metal press to create a shimmer coating. This particular style features horizontal slits for the square pouch pockets along the front and the two matching pockets along the rear. If you prefer jeans with more traditional rounded pockets, the collection also includes the Grupee jean ($228 at Diesel.com), also available in metallic blue or black (as shown fourth above).

Since white is such a popular color in arid, hot, desert regions throughout Africa, the collection includes a crisp white shirt ($178 at Diesel.com), shown next to last above. Made of 100% cotton, this long-sleeved shirt extends well past the waist, almost down to the knee, and features a tuxedo collar, dual chest pockets, and a rounded hemline.

And, of course, since Bono is rock ‘n’ roll royalty, the EDUN collection had to incorporate some fitting pieces like a zipper-trimmed dress ($228 at Diesel.com), pictured third above. This black jersey dress features long sleeves that widen below the upper arm area and then taper as they move down to the elbows for a snugger fit along the forearms. The golden zipper running diagonally across the front of the dress adds the perfect amount of bravado to the otherwise easy and laid-back dress.

To view the entire collection, visit Diesel.com 

 

 

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