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African Fashion that Mixes Style and Charity

I love ethnic prints and accessories and I've rocked a wrist full with colorful beaded bracelets from Kenya since high school.  This summer, tribal fashion is hot and you too can crank up your style wattage with African-and-African-inspired designs. You'll stand out from the crowd, and better yet, the designs featured here have a charitable benefit to an African country.

A model in Deola Sagoe/IMG
Deola Sagoe

Deola Sagoe received the only standing ovation at the Arise Fashion Collective show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2010. Her bold, show-stopping F/W 2010 designs were inspired by East African Massai warriors and 18th century European military uniforms.

The native of Nigeria supports her homeland financially and culturally by using authentic, hand-woven fabrics including Aso-Oke and Kente.  Her designs are also embellished with raffia, hand-beading and embroidery.

"My thinking was that I could create demand for those fabrics, while incorporating them into Western silhouettes for global appeal and eventually sales," Sagoe said in a press release.  "My goal was for African women to become more confident in their abilities and strive to achieve their innate potentials."

Sagoe's fashion has already captivated super-models Naomi Campbell and Alek Wek, and her line will be available at Elizabeth Charles boutique in New York City in August.
African Rain tee/Public Library

Public Library's "African Rain" t-shirt


Stay cool and look cool in this "African Rain" tee ($38) by Public Library.  A portion of proceeds from the sale of this shirt benefit the Samburu Project, which drills wells to provide clean water for the people of Northern Kenya.  The fitted t-shirt is made with super-soft modal fabric.  I've got mine.  Now you gotta get yours.


The Hemma Collection


Like Deola Sagoe, the elegant Hemma Collection uses traditional African fabrics. Each garment is handmade with the royal African fabric, Kente, imported from Ghana.  Designers Edna Bissoon and Cindy Gaston were volunteer teachers and photography club advisors at a school in Ghana.


Cindy Gaston of Hemma Collection.
That experience inspired the Hemma Collection and prompted them to start the Hemma Foundation.  The non-profit foundation donates funds to the middle school where the designers taught and strives to improve the quality of education received by Ghana's youth.

The Hemma Collection is available in select boutiques and online.

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