Before fashion comes culture. Before every clothing item, there are stories of people who made it and whose well-being depends on sewing, weaving, designing, transporting, and selling it. Behind every imprint we leave on the planet is the cultural pattern that can be linked to it.
Those interconnections deserve to be recognized. The voices deserve to be heard. Every item is more than a commodity but an expression of culture, heritage, and work that has brought it life. And while culture is formed through the ways we relate to the world, how we build those relationships needs to change drastically.
We believe that fashion should start paying greater attention to what we can learn from the past, preserving and valuing the heritage it builds upon.
At the same time, fashion should generate new cultural meanings that can help us move towards a more liveable and inclusive future. Every person should be respected for the work they do. Every person should be able to lead a dignified and meaningful life. And this a standard we aim to set.
Ultimately, fashion should contribute to the prosperity of those who make it happen, no matter where along the value chain they are situated, recognizing the energy, the words, and the practices that make it happen, day by day. And we want you to be part of this story too.
In doing so we aim to contribute to achieve the following Social Development Goals:
From Inclusivity to Democratization
Today, fashion is accessible to everyone. You no longer need to be invited to watch the catwalk shows during fashion week. You can watch them in the front row online. The styles from those same catwalks are translated into low quality knock offs by fast fashion brands in no time, making them available for every budget. However, can we really call the latter “democratizing the fashion industry” just because it allows everyone to buy clothes for cheap?
This type of production and consumption neglects to ask the question: Was someone’s life jeopardized so that I could buy an item for next to no money? What will happen to these products and the used materials when I get rid of them? How can they be replenished? Who pays the bill for that impact at the end of the day?
Building threads of freedom
“Whose shoulders do you stand on?
What do you stand for?”
– Amanda Gorman
The world features myriad connections. Some of them are common, others hardly imaginable. Maakola is committed to making and noticing connections that uncover something important about the items you wear: the links between the fabrics’ heritage, the artisans and customers, between item name and the pattern or technique used to produce, between your style and the fabric or shape of the item created for you. Every connection matters, and when they are strong enough, we can use them to build communities that change the usual way of doing things.
Sometimes these groups can become segregated networks. We strive to create and rebuild the links that make sustainable global fashion possible. Our pieces connect generations of strong women from all around the world, shrinking the distance between us. Each piece finds roots in hundreds of women’s voices and each pattern has its unique story to tell.
Then, the tailors co-create our pieces and our co-founders help make our vision a reality. Finally, the Maakola brand ambassadors use their voices to share stories of how our garments empower and uplift them and who help all the voices behind the story of their clothes to be heard.
Inspired by the women who pioneered the Wax Print industry in West Africa, our clothing aims to honor their place in the African and global culture by highlighting and sharing their stories. This process can help us to sweep away the old narratives and stereotypes that used to define Africa.