Fée Uhssi always had a passion for textiles, and especially traditionally made textiles, as they are the best quality. While studying art and communication, she studied and wrote her master memoir about African textiles and their role as communication support in the African culture and society.
This passion for fabrics and textiles inspires her to create a clothing line using high quality, and traditional textiles, in order to highlight and promote handmade work and techniques in the textiles industry, as she believes they offer better value in terms of quality, sustainability and environment protection issues.
Therefore, Fée Uhssi sources eco friendly, ethical, fair-trade, organic textiles from Africa & Europe. She is currently sourcing a majority of the fabrics she uses from Africa, as she is determined to show that traditional African fabrics can find their use in European fashion, and she is aiming to participate to develop, support and create fashion and textiles businesses in Africa. She is aiming to expend her sources and be able to source high quality, ethical, fair-trade textiles from India, Asia and South America.
Fabrics created and made by Bolo’no Mali Charity:
Bolo'no Mali has been founded in 2006 by Kati Ertel, French Designer, Artist and Textile expert who has been living in Mali for now more than 10 yearsi. Bolo'no means in Bambarra, the Mali main language: "The Print of the Hand". As an Artist herself, a Designer, a Textile Expert with a passion for African Art & Culture and a Nature lover, Kati Ertel created Bolo’no with the aim to preserve traditional techniques and know-how and to pass on knowledge to next generations in order to perpetuate ancestral, natural and sustainable arts techniques.
Bolo'no Mali Charity, a non-profit organisation aiming to preserve handmade crafts, traditional techniques of Textile Design and Arts, promote natural and organic materials, and raise awareness about environmental and social issues within the fashion & textiles industry. Bolo'no's action are currently based in Mali West Africa and is supporting local craftsmen Artists, and businesses and has developed education and cultural exchanges programs while producing an high-end clothing and homeware line ethically and naturally produced, using mainly the ancestral technique of Bogolan know as mudcloth, a hand painting technique using natural dyes.
The work of Bolo'no is all about working in balance with natural resources and cycles
Fée Uhssi sources her fabrics with ethical suppliers and manufacturers hence charities, fair trade and ethical companies, small and local businesses.
Fée Uhssi as an ethical label was brought to life thanks to her collaboration and my involvement with Bolo'no Mali. 75% of the fabrics used are produced in partnership with Bolo'no Mali and half of the garments are produced with local tailors in Mali with the aim to support local business development. The rest is produced in UK in collaboration with Heba Women Project another charity based in East London supporting education and work opportunities for women from ethnic minorities.
Fée Uhssi works closely with her mother Kati Ertel and the Bolo'no artists to create the fabrics that are used in her collections and will be used in the upcoming ones for 2014/2015. The Jewellery line is also the fruit of her partnership with one of the Bolo'no artist. Working closely with local fabrics & textiles producers and suppliers allows Fée Uhssi to be involved in the actual design of the fabrics, in choosing colours, prints, designs, and patterns.
So far Fée Uhssi has been using the following fabrics/ textiles in her collections:
The Finimugu is the traditional fabric from Mali, West Africa, it is made out of hand woven cotton, 100% natural Malian cotton grown and spun by hand, in Mali. The fabric is traditionally white. Fée Uhssi has been incorporating dyed Finimugu, dyed with eco friendly dies.
The Bogolan is the painted version of the Finimugu. Bogolan means painted with mud. It is the most famous and representative traditional fabric from Mali. The Finimugu is hand painted with plants and mud, it is a long and quite complicated process, as it is painted by hand, each piece is unique, and actually can be considered as a piece of Art as there is a very rich tradition of using symbols and designs to create those fabrics. The Bogolan in Mali is taking a very important place in the cultural and social life and been now recognise all over the world as an Art on its own. It is also playing an important part in the social and cultural life as designs are meaningfull and telling stories. The Bogolan is 100% natural and eco friendly. The use of medicinale plants as dyers gives also to the fabrics some healing & protection properties.
The Nyangine is industrial version of the Finimugu. As the cotton is industrially woven, it allows producing wider pieces of cloths then the Finimugu, traditionally woven on quite narrow looms. The Nyangine is a very flexible and soft cotton cloth, one of Fée Uhssi’s favourite fabrics
The Seriserigni is the Bogolan version of the Nyangine. The Bogolan technique of hand painting with plants and mud is used to create unique patterns. Seriserigni means
The Dalifini is made following the same weaving techniques as the finimugu but by using dyed cotton thread mixed with lurex thread to bring a glittery/ shinny touch to the fabric.
Fabrics sourced with small local textile designers and retailers in Africa:
African Fabrics and textiles which are not made by the Bolo'no's artists are ethically and fair tradely sourced with local textiles designers and producers and local retailers.
The Bazin is a 100% damask cotton used as support to create a large variety of designs and prints using the wax print technique. In Africa dyed bazin is used for ceremonies outfits. Bazin is “starch” with natural Arabic gum to give it its stiff &shinny aspect, the gum will disappear over washings.
Originally, the wax resist dyed fabrics came from Indonesia and were exported to the Gold Coast and spread over West Africa into Central Africa by Europeans . They became extremely popular and over time the Africans customised and personalised the designs. Nowadays they are primarily made in Ghana & Nigeria and have strong cultural, social and economic importance.