Edun’s mission to support artisanal African craft runs deep. At the newly minted SoHo store where spring was on display for the day, every aspect of the space was thoughtfully curated. The floor was hand-laid in a West African style consisting of various broken tiles and marble; an unassuming fitting-room entrance was crafted from a smooth batik wood, and the rest of the sparse space was decorated with various treasures — from the South African ceramics and Moroccan rugs available for purchase, to the Nigerian fertility hat sitting next to the accessories.
That strong narrative also translated to the story behind the clothes, which have either sustainable value or artisanal craftsmanship. Recent seasons have seen the brand raise its fashion quotient, leaning on an edgier, sportier aesthetic and using more complex craft techniques. Cofounder Ali Hewson and her design collective looked to the new surf culture in West Africa for spring, relaying a message of relaxed energy.
References to the theme were most evident in sportswear silhouettes and a color palette drawn from the ocean and sunrises off the Ivory Coast. Notable were ruched pants that drew from scuba attire, a T-shirt dress with a sunrise motif by Kenyan artist Stephen Kamau, pops of bright yellow on slinky dresses, and tie-dye on a sturdy trench or high-waisted silk-organza pants. These were playful and exuded a sense of youthful ease. But the clothes that felt the most special didn’t infer anything but quality craft. A sturdy moto jacket was cut with “leather” made out of pineapple skin, while a third partnership with the women’s co-op Ibaba Rwanda resulted in a statement coat with wave embroidery on the front and swishy fringe on the back. A beading technique applied into cross-body bags and a quirky pink jacket with a full-beaded back proved that a brand can support local communities and still make highly covetable fashion.