The Joinery of South Africa: Fashion Activism Takes Hold

 The Joinery is founded on the principle that every action has a consequence and that to do anything with the right attitude and awareness can make a collective difference towards striving to create a "sustainable fashion revolution." For South African sisters, Kim and Natalie Ellis, who founded the brand, their goals are quite simple, direct and transparent. In their own words: "We want to build a community of like-minded people who share and experiment, finding solutions to produce sustainable, organic fashion."


Joinery Silk Robe: Source: EcouterreJoinery Silk Robe: Source: Ecouterre


The Joinery and Fashion Activism

The Elllis sisters shared a mutual dream concerning the impact of fashion activism on South African local communities. The children and siblings of entrepreneurs, the Joinery clothing and artisan collective contributes to the economic independance of various Cape Townships by employing talented women to create various accessories for their brand.

In their own words: "We wanted to start a local movement and culture where people understand the need for sustainable fashion, but at the same time make people realize that organic and ethical can also be inspired and edgy...We have found the journey of being entrepreneurs rewarding, challenging and inspiring..."

Sustainable, Organic and Ethical  Fashion

 The Joinery  upholds its sustainable promise by using hemp and other natural organic products for all of their creations. All clothing is produced and all materials are sourced locally by Fair Trade sewing cooperatives whenever possible. This alone fosters a steady flow of employment and re-harnessing of both energy and talent from displaced textile factory workers. The sewing cooperatve faced formidable challenges and was threatened many times by the area's social unrest caused by gang wars. But they endured, as all brave souls must do, empowered by their pledge to change the world in their own way.


Joinery Silk Kimono: Source: EcouterreJoinery Silk Kimono: Source: Ecouterre


The Joinery and the Fashion Revolutuon 

The Joinery is now part of the Fashion Revolution, which is a global awareness initiative started in the United Kingdom by  Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro. Its main goal is to make consumers ask: "Who made my clothes?" The Joinery founders believe their alignment with this powerful and important cause will put South Africa in the forefront as a nation that stands behind the sustainable fashion movement. In their own words: Our goal is to be able to further empower our ladies through getting sponsorship for more high quality equipment and to also bring on board highly skilled industry professionals to impart their knowledge to the cooperative."

The Joinery Fashion Collection

Although dominated by a feminine aesthetic, there are androgynous elements in their creations. Garments and accessories made from hemp  and organic cottons have very basic neutral designs, as the focus is meant to be on natural fibers. Delicate silks as sheer lingerie do, however, comprise the bulk of the 2015 collection. In the words of the founders: "What we ended up with was sheer floral pink and exotic green silk kimonos, delicate nude slips and diaphanous winged blouses."

The Future of Fashion Activism

The Joinery's vision offers hope for lasting and positive change that can only come about with everyone doing something, no matter how little, to alter the world in which we live. This sewing collective provides what South Africa desperately needs; the harnessing of local skills coupled with the production of designs that are kind to natural resources and reflect its proud heritage. Its goal for a fashion movement that offers local economic growth can only reap a more promising future both for South Africa and the world.

Closing thoughts on activism:

Never doubt that a small group of  thoughtful, commited citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only  thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

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