Whilst hanging out at Moonweasel Productions my eyes met a rather festive row of cute woven bags sitting with the studio equipment and I grew anxious to know the designer. Seeing no tags inside, I asked Thierry who they belonged to and he said “Actually you should meet Ryan Clements, you both share the same passion for philanthropy”.
Mr. Clements as it turned out, is the creative force behind the chic bags through Fashion. Love, Africa, an Organization he Founded which designs and purchases hand knitted eco-friendly totes constructed from post-consumer plastic bags gathered and woven by female residents living in the garbage slum of Nakuru, Kenya. Each bag is purchased directly from the woman who constructed it, allowing her a consistent source of income.
I was very impressed with Ryan’s dedication to helping strangers whose poverty had shaken his spirit during a trip to Kenya, where he volunteered with Unicef. After seeing the harsh conditions in which the families, primarily women, and children lived by making a bed and meal of garbage in the slums, Ryan began a mission to contribute.
Upon his return to the U.S Ryan spent few months creating the Fashion. Love, Africa concept and with his background as Assistant Design Director at J Mendel and Studio Director at Zac Posen, he returned a few months later to Kenya with a proposal which the women happily complied.
The women already created and sold bags to survive but what I love about Ryan’s influence is that he’s offering his high-end design skills so the new creations are attractive to a more international consumer, thus helping the families sell more. Each bag costs $50 and $10 from each sell goes towards a community chest geared towards medical aid, relocation and child sponsorship.
Each bag is named after the woman who designed it and my favorite is the Mary bag. I love that you can use it for practically anything: A beach bag, a picnic bag, a laundry bag, a day bag, or even a carry-on at the airport when your luggage exceeds the weight limit and you don’t want to waste $50 (Oh, TMI).
I also love the color options, perfect for all seasons!
As part of their first Lookbook, myself and other industry professionals such as Danielle & Jodie Synder, the sisters behind label DANNIJO, Photographer Thierry Van Biesen, Singer/Songwriter Arama Mara, and Jared of JustJared.com were invited to participate in the shoot so to spread the chic. The bags have already become a Hollywood favorite with Kristen Bell and Rachel Bilson supporting the Cause.