Alice Heusser and Oliva Kennaway are the co-creators and directors of Lalesso, a brand founded upon a commitment to ethics and sustainability on a social and environmental level. They believe in supporting local industry through manufacture of Lalesso products while encouraging their client base to be aware of sustainably made clothing. Heusser and Kennaway met while studying fashion design in Cape Town. When a representative of the Ethical Fashion Forum from London gave a talk in one of their classes about the importance of ethical fashion, they were captivated.
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They were inspired by the opportunity to bring change to certain industries on the continent, create jobs and spread the message globally through their garments. Lalesso currently produces two collections a year in both South Africa and Kenya, directly and indirectly supporting an estimated 120 families in doing so. Like many others around the world, the two took part in Fashion Revolution Day last year, commemorating the collapse in 2013 of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, where 1 133 factory workers were killed. More than 60 countries are currently represented in the now-annual initiative, involving designers, academics, business leaders, parliamentarians, media and consumers calling for a reform of the fashion supply chain.
Locally they are trying to make consumers aware of the high cost of cheap fashion. With the catch phrase, ‘Who made my clothes?’ they ask consumers to consider this question. ‘I think it is safe to say we are living in a revolutionary era. I feel that our generation in particular will be recognised for these movements. I think it would be completely uncontemporary of us to not be promoting ethics and sustainability through the work that we do,’ says Kennaway.