SUNO was formed in 2008 by Max Osterweis after more than a decade of collecting textiles during his frequent visits to Kenya. Stemming from his concern for the its people after the turmoil of the 2007 election, he decided to start SUNO to help bring work to the area. “I felt like I wanted to do something in Kenya to help,” Osterweis explains to NY Times, “we can give people jobs and raise the skill level there.” Osterweis is now committed to employing and fairly paying local Kenyan artisans in the the hopes that this may affect lasting social and economic change in these communities. More importantly, Osterweis is determined to showcase some of Kenya’s stunning artistry, which is what makes it more than just using ‘green’ or ethically-sourced fabric. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything more lovely than the colorful florals and eccentric patterns of Kenyan kitenges and kangas.
The debut collection from SUNO was Spring/Summer 2009 consisting of 1,000 one-of-a-kind pieces and was quickly snapped up by Opening Ceremony. “The inspiration for this first collection comes from both the women of coastal East Africa and the women of downtown New York”. The outcome was a serendipitous melange of typical Kenyan chic and contemporary Western-style silhouettes. Think one-shoulder tops, voluminous jumpers, leg-baring mini dresses and structural headpieces in bold printed fabrics mixed/matched in the most daring and spectacular ways.
Each season’s collection for SUNO has incorporated myriad different influences, and the Spring/Summer 2010 doesn’t fall short of the same captivating and inspired design aesthetic. Think big ruffled shoulders, flirty micro mini skirts and mixes of rich, hot pink and shocking yellow. I’m obsessed with so many of the pieces that I can’t post just one.
Much like the traditional kanga, many of the pieces have also been printed with Swahili aphorisms that were originally worn to send messages to fellow villagers, such as: “Watch your roosters, there’s a new hen in town.” It’s like carrying around a little secret message with you wherever you go. How cool is that?
Karibu Rafiki! Go get your unique SUNO piece before they sell out. Ninakupenda!