Together for tomorrow


Q&A: Designer Awa Meité pays homage to Mali’s design traditions

by | Nov 11, 2022

Awa Meité is a recognised multi-talented fashion and textile designer, filmmaker, stylist, and painter. Based in Mali’s capital city Bamako, Awa’s label spotlights local artisans who are responsible for some of the country’s most thoughtful garments and accessories.

We caught up with Awa to learn more.

Awa Meité

How would you describe your design ethos and style?

I describe my design and my ethos as not trend-focused, but more so concerned with the material a garment is made from and its global impact. Instead of trends, I focus on the origins of my garments, the messages behind them, and the added value for the communities I work with.

How do you reflect Mali’s rich history of craftsmanship and design in your brand?

As a textile and fashion designer based in Mali’s Bamako, my label spotlights local artisans who are responsible for some of the country’s most thoughtful garments and accessories. My ready-to-wear pieces come in an array of striking silhouettes and hand-woven fabrics and pay homage to the country’s rich history of craftsmanship and design.

Why was it important to celebrate and amplify the work of local artisans?

I use my brand as a way to link the past to the present, because in most African cultures the past is part of today and is shaping the future.  It is a strong reminder that to know where you are going, you have to know where you are coming from.

Tell us about one Malian artisanal technique that you use when creating your garments.

I work a lot with traditional weavers. I also try to train them to work with modern looms. Weaving is my passion, because it holds a musicality that heals and also gives birth to amazing fabrics.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability simply means our livelihood and the treasure we must leave for the next generations – 90% of what we make is handmade and all the textile waste we produce is reused.

What do you wish people understood better about sustainability in an African context?

Sustainability looks different, and means different things, depending on where you live and your life experience.

In Mali, for example, people who recycle plastic in the dumps do it because they believe in sustainability. They can sell it and live with the little they make. I see them as heroes because they are the best and the most important part of recycling and reusing in developing countries.

If we were visiting Bamako for a day, where would you take us?

Definitely the artisanal market.

Can you share a few Malian brands you are loving, at the moment?

Raki Thiam, Jean K Jean, Mariah Bocoum, and Ikalook.


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