Although Sierra Leone has achieved some economic growth since the end of its civil war in 2002, it wasn’t until 2010 that the UN Security Council lifted the last remaining sanctions against Sierra Leone saying the government had fully re-established control over its territory, and former rebel fighters had been disarmed and demobilised. Meaning that poverty and unemployment remain major challenges in the West African nation. Stephanie Hogg, with her British label NearFar, is determined to change that by providing sustainable employment to tailors in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Falling in perfectly with this summer’s ‘Tribal Chic’ trend, NearFar offers an original perspective with truly authentic roots.
Raised in Ethiopia and Kenya (schooled in the U.K.), Hogg was born into a family that has been working in development for generations.
“I have always been fascinated by different cultures and societies and especially different trends of fashion that originate from these places,” Hogg shares. “This fascination gave me a desire to travel from an early age. At 18 I spent 5 months in South America. During my time I worked with local women helping them market alpaca to a European market.”
This laid the groundwork for NearFar. During Hogg’s studies (Anthropology and Media at Goldsmiths University) her parents were based in Sierra Leone and she often traveled to see them. With her experience in Bolivia, Hogg was keen to combine fashion and development and inspired by the beautiful and vibrant prints she encountered in Sierra Leone. ”
Not only did Sierra Leone inspire me in a creative way but it wasn’t long since the civil war ended and I could see a great opportunity to help support tailors and create sustainable employment by providing them with an international market. So NearFar was born in 2009,” recalls Hogg.
NearFar‘s whole ethos is based around ethically producing beautiful pieces
“which make people feel alive when they wear them and through this they are also giving opportunities to those who create the garments,” beams Hogg. “I believe fashion can be a very powerful tool in the eradication of poverty.”
NearFar uses traditional West African prints and works with workshops across Freetown- providing a market for tailors as well as training other tailors in the art of tailoring. NearFar’s signature fabric is printed cotton in bold, bright prints. The 2012 Resort Collection was inspired by the wild, unspoilt beauty of beaches of Sierra Leone and features peplum tops, tailored jackets and 1950’s style sundresses.
NearFar is stocked in Sydney at Indigo Bazaar (an online ethical store), in Cape Town at Merchants on Long (a store that represents products made in Africa) and at a few boutiques in the UK. As well as being available online www.nearfar.co.uk
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