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Imogen Belfield is set to Rock the Rock vault at London Fashion week, she launched her collaboration for MADE’ at the Felicities PR showroom in Shoreditch last week. Imogen joins a long list of celebrities, designers and retail giants (such as Top Shop, Louis Vuitton and Alexa Chung) who have lent their aesthetic and vision to the brand. MADE is a Fair Trade company whose focus is not only to create beautiful accessories in their Kenyan workshop, but to train artisans and provide sustainable, steady employment.
Each piece is made with care from local raw materials, so as to support production and the economy and keep the roots of the pieces firmly in the region. This education doesn’t just go one way; the collaborators also gain knowledge of traditional craftsmanship and a potentially new market.
For this capsule collection, Imogen travelled to Nairobi and spent 10 days working directly with local craftsmen in their workshop. The results are a perfect fusion of African techniques and Imogen’s signature moulded and textured style. So what’s the collection liked? Items ranged from delicate stackable brass rings to a full-on brass and leather harness, reminiscent of Imogen’s multi-layered statement necklaces. Bright coloured macramé weaved effortlessly between brass links to create necklaces and bracelets; oversized semi-precious stones and flat brass neckpieces provided more elegant drama that would look just as good with a plain white t shirt as it would with a little black dress. The new collection also included leather handbags, which were a first for Imogen, although her influence was evident in the brass hardware and simple style of each bag.
I got a chance to have a quick catch-up with a visibly excited Imogen to chat about the pieces and how the collaboration came about:
How did you feel when MADE first approached you?
It was amazing to be approached by an ethical company like MADE to do the collaboration because it allowed me to really explore different uses of materials and to get the opportunity to go to Nairobi. I showed [the artisans] my designs and we worked together to create a collection that was commercial, wearable and functional. We explored everything from cord to knotting to macramé, lots of brass and hammering techniques and the use of leather.
What was the inspiration behind the leather body harness?
I wanted to do a piece that was big and statement and also still wearable. It’s very light, very comfortable and I thought perfect over a white t-shirt or strappy to. [We wanted] to just explore and not have any limits on what we could and couldn’t do. The entire collection is very affordable (prices start at £30). How important was it to you to keep the collection accessible?
Very important because it broadens the market and also taps into different markets from the one my main line is in at the moment. The price isn’t necessarily the reason someone buys a piece, but I think it’s also people buying into the story and the message that underlines the entire collection: what it’s all about and what it’s supporting.
Imogen has another collaboration up her sleeve but kept those details close to her chest. All we can be sure about is that it is jewellery based and bound to be amazing. ‘MADE by Imogen Belfield’ will be available to buy in October 2013.
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