Caftans can be found on every corner of Miami, but few to none hail from Morocco’s finest ateliers. Lisa and Lauren Walsh, mother and daughter fashion-collectors-turned entrepreneurs, are shining the spotlight on the North African niche through the Tighemi lifestyle boutique in the Miami Design District. In addition to voluminous caftans hand-sewn by Moroccan artisans from Italian silks, the recent New York transplants import customized clothing, accessories and home décor (tighemi translates to “home” in Berber) from Morocco.
“Moroccan dress usually gets clumped in with other ethnicwear, so we’re trying to give it some individual identity,” said Lauren, who had no intention of turning their trips to Marrakesh, which originated with her mother’s fine art photography pursuits, into a business. “It just happened organically that we came across these incredible craftsmen for a combination of curating and collaborating.”
Tighemi’s modern styles are a mix of natural fabrics. “Moroccan cashmere” — densely woven cotton — gets its nickname from its softness, and structured totes and weekenders in Italian leathers can take a beating on the Gulfstream circuit. Many pieces like coats and gondola dresses are embellished with buttons and other accents embroidered from sabra, a traditional silk in Morocco that’s spun from a cactus and dyed in every color of the rainbow.
“We’re about slow fashion. We may order only five of one style, and if we sell out, we sell out,” said Lauren of their clothes, which are designed to layer, such as a duster-length tunic vest, tunic coat and cape.
“Because we’ve spent so much time there and are interested in design in general, we hunted down the best artisans,” said Lisa. “They’re the ones who receive commissions from royal families.”