The African Sewing Club

Viv, what’s the story behind your fashion label?vivstanding

The African Sewing Club is based in Rwanda. It’s a group of fifty women who I am working with over a period of ten years. The aim is to take them out of poverty by setting up clothing production. These women are aged from between 15 and 30. Mainly, they are single mums and widows who are struggling with life in Rwanda.  We are setting up a functioning infrastructure on the ground with a really well qualified fashion and textile trainer and a manager. There is no history of exporting clothes from Rwanda. This is why I really wanted this to happen. When you look at traditional dress in Africa, you see beautiful fabrics and prints, and the first thing you think is ‘why aren’t there clothes made from those fabrics?’.  Here, when I wear a dress made from those fabrics, I get compliments.

They will be making clothes which are colourful and exciting. Some people get afraid to wear different colours. The more you wear one colour, the more you think that it suits you. But when you try something new, it can work well.

Are you wearing one of your dresses now?

Yes, I am. I’m very proud of that, I think particularly when you live in Brighton, you feel happy, because you might bump into somebody wearing something similar, so you don’t feel singled out. In Brighton people have that sense of style.

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