As part of Fashion Revolution Week we interviewed the ethical and carefree Lalesso, to find out more about who makes your clothes, including studio manager Zodidi and why she’s such an integral part of the brand.
Lalesso prides itself on honouring, respecting, and rewarding those who make your timeless pieces. Why is this so important to you as an organisation, and what does it look like in practice?
Gosh, I simply couldn't imagine it any other way. I feel like the makers are really the unsung heroes of the entire global fashion industry. I guess being so hands on with all the factories we work with, I get to see first-hand the amount of work (and love) that goes into each piece and feel like this story needs to be told and celebrated. I think it's important too to keep spreading the message and raising awareness to consumers to be considerate of who made their clothes so that we can all collectively change the industry for good.
Tell us about one of the members of your team that you're most proud of - from anywhere in the supply chain - and why their story makes you proud?
I am extremely proud and so grateful to Zodidi—our studio manager. She manages the stock, e-commerce, she hand makes all the little tassels found on our garments and attaches them, and she has just completed a sewing course so will start helping with sampling soon too. She always wears a smile and is so happy to just get on with what she is doing, she thinks before I speak! Zodidi moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town in search of work—there are immigrants from all over Africa on this same mission so finding work is not easy. Didi is an example of never giving up and following your hearts desires. She told me a few months after she joined Lalesso that the day I contacted her (I found her ad on gumtree!) she had spent her last cents coming into the city that day (having been looking for work for three months already) and for some reason decided instead of looking for work she was to go and walk on the mountain. This really struck a cord with me as I spend at least two-hours of my day, most days, on the mountain. In some way I feel like it was the universe pulling us together!
In 2009, you set up (the now independent) SOKO and transitioned your garment production to them - what have been the successes and challenges with doing this, and has it in any way changed how you communicate with your customers, in terms of telling the stories behind who's making your clothes?
Whilst SOKO continues to flourish, we have in fact since moved all of our production to Cape Town as our HQ is here, and it just made more logistical sense. We work with five amazing factories here, all small-scale employing no more than 10 ladies in wonderful working environments. I love these factories. You can really get a strong feeling that the ladies absolutely love what they do and they take such pride in it. In some way I really feel this comes through with our garments.
Haha, every day is completely unique, and depending on what time of the year it is, going through a different part of the cycle—design, sample, shoot, market, produce, sell! I think that's what I love about what I do—no day is the same as the last.
What five words would you use to describe Lalesso?
Ethical, African, Summer, Beach, Carefree