Kahoko Brings Fair-Trade, Handmade Kenyan Textiles Into the Home

by , 05/23/14   filed under: Eco-Textiles, Fair Trade

Kahoko, Kenya, fair-trade fashion, fair-trade textiles, eco-textiles, sustainable textiles, Africa, fair trade, natural textiles, eco-fabrics, eco-friendly fabrics, sustainable fabrics, eco-friendly knits, sustainable knits, eco-friendly knitwear, sustainable knitwear, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

Photos by Luke Casey

Eco-textile brand Kahoko offers beautiful woven textiles with a conscience, all of which use renewable natural fibers. The team brings sustainable knitted fabrics from Kenya into the home, designing simple yet decorative interior products from hangings to cushions. Every piece of their items are handmade by some 250 knitters located in the country’s Rift Valley, whose slow craft is an essential part of Kahoko’s ethos of fair trade work and timeless design. Their collection is a seasonless yet constantly evolving range, every element of which is created meticulously by hand. Even the name Kahoko symbolizes sustainability, inspired by the name of a weed indigenous to the region and suggesting that even a weed can have a function.

Kahoko, a Hong Kong-based brand, wants to bring this collaboration to life and tell the stories behind the original textiles. Using skills that have evolved over generations, the women who knit the fabrics “create unique pieces that bear the signature of the woman who created it,” say Kahoko. They say a family of weavers run a cotton warp and wool weft loom system which means the process takes time – up to 4 days to weave a medium size rug. “Every row is carefully constructed stitch by stitch,” says Kahoko. The artisans involved pride themselves on creating their products, but simultaneously have to manage the high demands of daily life in rural Kenya, balancing their time between childcare and agriculture.

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Each of the textiles made is colored using natural dyes, including the kahoko weed itself. The textiles are then sent to Hong Kong. Here, Kahoko have made sure to continue their ethical and sustainable goals by working with local retired seamstresses who complete all the finishing, such as sewing on labels and piecing together some of the items. The brand have a steady rhythm of production. However, they hope to work with other communities in Southeast Asia and Africa in the future, translating traditional artisan craft into designs with a modern aesthetic.

+ Kahoko

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