In this series, Man Repeller shines a light on standout independent, Black-owned fashion labels we think you should know about (and shop from!). And in turn, they’re passing the baton and spotlighting a handful of businesses they know and love. Today we have Liya Kebede, founder and creative director of lemlem.
lemlem, an ethical label informed by Kebede’s Ethiopian roots with all garments and goods made by local artisans in Africa.
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To everyone who has recently joined our Lemlem family, who has tagged us and shared the love, thank you 💜 To everyone who after all these years is with us, welcome home ⭐️ Lemlem in Amharic means to bloom. To flourish. And maybe there is no better time to give the opportunity to small, ethical brands made in Africa to do exactly that. To Grow. We started Lemlem in Ethiopia to support local weavers in finding a market for their craft. It has since expanded with swimwear in Morocco and ready to wear in Kenya. But it is, we hope, so much more than this. With every purchase, you also help support the mission of our foundation to help women artisans in Africa thrive by connecting them to healthcare, education and pathways to jobs. With every purchase, you support another artisan and by definition their extended family, who often come and learn the art of weaving, passed on to the next generations in a beautifully poetic, cyclical manner. We believe that change is on its way and NOW more than ever, we will pursue our work and our mission. THANKS TO YOU. Your continued support over the years and especially during these challenging times has given us hope anew to make the world a better place. Together 💜
If we drew a three-adjective Venn diagram, lemlem would sit in the center of:
Breezy, gossamery, conscientious
Okay, this isn’t as far-fetched a fantasy as the rest. You’re keen to get Vitamin D from something other than a lemon-colored supplement. The term “tanline” sounds archaic to your ears. You want one swimsuit for the summer so that you can bask in some sunshine during your lunch break. You ask your friend where she got that swimsuit of hers that you’ve always loved so much, and from there it’s a beeline to the lemlem website. Do you get the orange high-waisted bottoms with a triangle bikini or an off-the-shoulder top? A ballet-inspired one-piece, or maybe this one that ties at the shoulders? Unless it’s time for this olive-colored string bikini? Or is this summer more about the halter-and-belt combo? Once you narrow it down to a winner, you’re one beach towel away from splaying out comfortably on your fire escape.
Black entrepreneurship in Kebede’s words:
“The double tragedies and heartbreaking losses of these past weeks—from the violence and the pandemic—remind me once again that we have to work together to break down barriers to justice, health, and opportunities—for everyone. Today, I’m focused harder than ever on our mission at lemlem, and redoubling our efforts to create good jobs and opportunities for Black artisans to have a path into the fashion market, to share and have their beautiful craftsmanship recognized.”
Want more? Check out MR Market Strategist Elizabeth Tamkin’s database of more than 600 Black-owned brands, along with some of her personal shopping recommendations. If you have a suggestion that you think should be added, please share it in the comments.