Made in Africa
Each lemlem item begins in the hands of our exceptional artisans. We invest in locally grown materials and fabrics and we partner with artisan studios that use traditional motifs and techniques to create a beautiful, modern look.
Cotton has been cultivated on Ethiopian farms since ancient times. Hand spinning and weaving of cotton cloth is an important family tradition passed across generations. Before the cotton fibers can be woven, they are cleaned to remove any imperfections and straightened into thread. The artisans load the thread onto spools and the weaving process is ready to begin.
The art of weaving has been practiced for centuries in Ethiopia. Master weavers travelled in mobile courts and set up their looms in the gardens of nobleman, creating intricate patterns that had social and political significance. Today, master weavers continue this art form stringing individual “warp” thread through their handlooms and then repeatedly interlacing it with “weft” threads. With each pass lemlem’s signature stripe patterns emerge.
Traditional clothing in Ethiopia is hand woven of white cotton with a finely detailed decorative border or tibeb – which means embellishment in the Ethiopian language of Amharic. Tibebs often include forms such as arrows, diamonds and beehives that symbolize aspects of nature and culture. lemlem transforms these patterns into modern graphic borders and patterns which feature throughout our collection.
lemlem partners with a local collective in Kenya that employs craftswomen and trains them to become highly-skilled artisans. Women are taught the art of crochet - interlocking loops of yarn into intricate designs. The result is an exquisite, high-quality hand crafted piece.
Thread Wrap + Tasseling
Kenya’s Maasai community is renowned for its intricate hands-craftmanship and beadwork. lemlem partners with Maasai women’s associations whose craftswomen use an array of special techniques in thread wrap detailing and tasseling.
Rich hand-embroidery lines formal garments worn for special occasions across Africa. Belgian nuns are said to have first passed the technique to artisans who use symbols and patterns that tell a story, memorized and passed down from mother to daughter.
In Rwanda lemlem partners with a workshop that trains woman artisans from vulnerable communities across East Africa to create luxurious hand-embroidered linen embellishments and bespoke products. In addition to training the workshop provides housing, health and education services to its artisans.
Artisan manufacturing partners in Madgascar use advanced knitting techniques to create cozy, chunky sweaters and scarves for our Fall collections inspired by the country’s diverse and vibrant culture and customs.