Fruit of the Loom: Liya Kebede’s Blueprints for Change
Liya wearing Lemlem at the IST. Festival gala celebration.
Nowadays, even more than before, preserving culture, history, and art forms has become an essential part of our humanity. We are each responsible to care for our past and our future with action, goodwill, and love. With so much around us, we should never forget that a piece only becomes truly beloved when it holds a story and the precious human touch within itself.
This introduction leads me to the brand Lemlem, which means “bloom,” or “flourish,” in Amharic.
Lemlem was created by Liya Kebede—not only an inspiring soul who I had the pleasure to welcome during the IST. Festival but also a friend, a supermodel, an actress, and a former World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health. Liya discovered that traditional weavers in her native country of Ethiopia were losing their jobs due to a decline in local demand for their goods, and she wanted to do something about it.
Recognizing the beauty, quality, and historic significance of their work, Liya started Lemlem, in 2007, as a way to inspire economic independence in her native country and to preserve the art of weaving.
This gorgeously handcrafted, summery collection of women’s and children’s clothing is beautiful both inside and out—just like its founder, who has become a dear friend.
Photos: Courtesy of Liya Kebede/Demet Muftuoglu Eseli