In addition to promoting craftsmanship, Umòja puts innovation at the heart of its actions. We would like to reflect on the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. The trademark excludes the use of animal leather and artificial dyeing. Natural materials are favoured: organic cotton, tree bark textile, cork, dyeing and painting based on minerals and plants.
All these materials are produced locally by small communities of producers. We have chosen to go directly to meet these producers in Africa with the objective of sourcing directly from artisans. Discover below all the materials we use, their specificities and origins:
Raffia is a naturally organic tree, no need for fertilizers, pesticides or GMOs for its production. It grows in marshy areas that are difficult to access. Once the fibre is extracted, it is woven by hand without any looms. Weaving can last from 2 weeks to several months depending on the desired dimensions.
We use cotton grown organically and locally by small producer communities. It is produced in a traditional and reasonable way. It is raw, harvested and spun by hand, thick without any artificial bleaching. The falé (hand-spun) is a majestic art mastered by very few craftsmen. This production mode allows local producer communities to break out of the cycle of economic inadequacy.
BANANA TREE FIBRES
Our Ugandan partner cooperative uses banana fibres as a raw material to compensate for the rarity of cotton yarns in this country. It is a rigid, innovative and biodegradable material. Once the fibre is extracted, it is dried in the sun and woven by hand on a handcrafted loom.
The dye used to dye fabrics is obtained from mineral and vegetable materials. The achievements are non-polluting and give a very nice result. Craftsmen use leaves, roots, bark, clay and stones to obtain different types of colourings. The singularity of natural dyeing lies in the musicality and variation of the colours. Depending on the seasons, the power of the pigments changes, giving each time a unique result. Each dye has its own identity just like our sneakers.
The production process of this fibrous textile is complex and time-consuming. This work is one of the oldest in the world. According to UNESCO, this prehistoric technique predates the invention of weaving. The bark is extracted with a banana tree trunk to avoid damaging the integrity of the tree. Once the bark is removed, the tree is protected with banana leaves to facilitate the regeneration process. Since 2008, the lubugo (traditional name of the bark) has been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This material is hot, resistant, compostable and vegan.
A vegan and ecological natural material, cork is an excellent substitute for certain petroleum products and animal leather. It is a high quality material. Very resistant and waterproof. Its harvesting is a completely ecological process: cork oaks are subjected to a simple debarking process that does not require damaging the trees.