I was recently introduced to the relatively new fashion label Hemma and fell in love. The labels two designers, Cindy Gaston and Edna Bissoon, are creating innovative looks using authentic African Kente. Centuries of tradition are woven into their collection which includes blazers, dresses, skirts and bold corsets.
The idea for the label originated in 2007 while the women were studying abroad in Ghana. Their exposure to traditional African textiles mixed with their deep interest in fashion, pushed the women to focus on careers in the fashion industry and Hemma was born. And in keeping with tradition, Hemma's Kente is made using centuries-old weaving techniques.
The work of the New York based designers also includes a great deal of philanthropy. In addition to their label, Gaston and Bissoon also established the Hemma Foundation, which benefits schools in Ghana, including La Yahoushua, the middle-school the two volunteered at while living there. Today, 5% of Hemma's annual sales goes to the foundation's efforts.