Afriek: cross-cultural fashion from Rwanda
Fashion can show a beautiful image of the African country after the dark period of genocide
The brand Afriek was created in 2013, by Sivan Breemhaar, after some researches in Rwanda. By that time, Sivan wanted to create a different image of Rwanda, a country that was the stage of a sad genocide, and she thought that fashion was a beautiful way to do it, to bring more joy and positive messages about this African country.
Although there was no tradition in fashion in her family, she started the business as a great entrepreneur: from zero. Firstly, she bought some designs (project) in a market in Europe. As the clothes would be sold in Europe initially, they need to attend the shape of the average European women. Then, she bought some textiles, with astonishing African patterns. And the business grew up, involving 30 people in Rwanda and a small team in The Netherlands.
Normally, the brand does one collection per year and is more driven for passion, not for profits (yet). It seems that we still need to educate the consumer to buy sustainable fashion, why is it important to choose clothes that promote social equality and use eco-friendly materials. Even though the consumer is still learning about what is behind the product, Sivan, as a legitimate entrepreneur, keeps strong in her purpose. The plans for Afriek from January 2020 is to create its own fabrics, with African prints created by African designers, and using soft cotton.
Connecting cultures via fashion design
“With our garments, we create a dialogue between different cultures. For each new collection that we create, we bring one of our designers to Rwanda to collaborate with our local team of tailors. Together they finalize the designs into samples, closely collaborating to get the ideal fit and design. In this way we bring together the expertise and workmanship of the tailors with the vision of the designer. Whenever we are unable to produce in our atelier in Rwanda, we aim to work with partners that also want to make an impact and we make sure our production partners benefit from the collaboration as much as we do.”
Find out more about the talented people behind our latest SS18 CAMPAIGN STORY.