Jambo mgobas (that's "hello bananas" for those of you that are a little rough on your Swahili these days),
Hearing Babs regale us with her adventures in Africa reminded me of the yards of fabric I've been carting around since my summer in Kenya...in 2001. I kept convincing myself that eventually I'd make a sundress, or a skirt, but I finally awoke from those delusions, wrapped that shit around my neck, and called it a day. Voila!
The fabric above is known as a kanga, and it seems that the East African textile is all the rage these days. You know how I know? Because you can pay $600 for clothing made out of it at Opening Ceremony. You could feed an entire village for the cost of one Suno outfit, but I'll be damned if that's not a bad-ass mix of prints. I kid, I kid. Suno is actually a great company that employs local Kenyan workers to construct one-of-a-kind pieces from vintage textiles.
Urban Outfitters is also all up in this kanga shit, launching the diffusion line GUAM with jewelry designer Brian Crumley. Working with Kenyan artisans and MADE Fair Trade Jewelry, Crumley tied, beaded and wrapped African textiles into a great range of bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. I was about to knock him for calling it GUAM--Kenya ain't no Mariana Islands, homeboy--until I read more about the line on his website. Turns out GUAM stands for Global United Artisans Movement. Check out the pieces at Urban Outfitters. They're an affordable and subtle way to give this whole kanga kraze a try.