Continent Clothing The Story
I love the tropics – the sun and the sea, the people and the food, chilling in the warmth. And I love clothes. So I guess I should have seen it coming. It all started with a pair of trousers from The Gambia. They looked like Africa feels: sunny, alive, vibrant with colour. And they were ridiculously comfy.
I wore them all the time, everywhere – at home, Uni, parties, slobbing out, in the park, on the beach. (I saved a lot of money on trousers). People kept asking where I got them. You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Fast forward a few years: I hand in my final year thesis – on ‘economic cooperation in Africa’ (not as dull as it sounds) – and the dream starts. I’m all over hundreds of shops hunting great fabrics in The Gambia’s biggest market, Serekunda. Meeting loads of potential tailors (and beautiful models) in the local village, Sukuta. Learning to speak some Mandinka (one of Africa’s most famous tribes, once called the Mandingo), and eating incredibly delicious food in my friend Adama’s family compound. Personal and business relationships are the heart of ‘economic cooperation in Africa’; it’s like building a new tribe of friends and family, cloth suppliers and tailors, drivers and models…
The Gambia is poor even by sub-Saharan standards, a tiny slice of land in the far West of the poorest continent on Earth. Here, even the small amount of seed funding I’ve got together for Continent Clothing means fish money – and, with your help, something more.
‘Fish money’ is what Gambians call the daily food money. The bottom line of family life. Getting this basic together is a constant worry for many. Anything beyond fish money goes into other worries, like school fees, a pen or schoolbook. But that extra money is the difference between ticking over – mere subsistence – and building hope for a better future.
For an average Gambian, the price of a cup of coffee in London would be good ‘fish money’ for a family compound with perhaps a dozen or so people living in it. We’d like to go a bit further than that, you know? Continent Clothing wants to boost the local economy and make a direct, immediate, and sustainable impact. Stylishly.
Now you can join the Continent Clothing tribe, comfortable that you’ll be wearing great clothing that doesn’t cost the earth – or exploit its poorest people. Comfortable that every piece you wear is unique to you, hand-sourced and bespoke-tailored. Comfortable that, by wearing some of Africa, you’re helping put fish money and a little extra – a chance at the future – into people’s lives.
That’s the first chapter: the rest of the story is up to you. You can wear your world and share your world. You can tell us your tale, maybe even come and visit, or send your own much-loved piece of clothing to give it a new life.
So why not add a new story to your wardrobe? Your own story of places and possibilities, of sun and sea and sand, of chilling in ridiculous comfy clothing that makes you – and other people – happy...
Lucas Barrow-Townsend-Founder and designer at Continent Clothing