Following a trip to her native Ethiopia, supermodel Liya Kebede became inspired to start a collection of handwoven clothing and home goods in 2007. Lemlem, translated from the Ethiopian language of Amharic to mean bloom and flourish, offers pieces made by local traditional artisans in Africa with native natural cotton. Having grown up in Addis Ababa, Kebede recalled wearing comfortable cotton sewn dresses that were well made. But with the spread of western fashion and the expanding second-hand market, the demand for traditional garments became scarce, shrinking the local market for regional weavers with it.
Lemlem has taken on a mission to revitalize and establish the artisanships of Ethiopia and other African countries on a world stage. The brand’s non-profit arm, the Lemlem foundation, is committed to empowering women in artisan communities and beyond.