WHY DO YOU DESIGN OUTFITS WITH CMIA?
“Cotton made in Africa supports a lot of Africans in a very direct way. It is a new form of development cooperation—not a donation and not a gift. The people involved have a goal: they want to take control of their own lives. And this initiative helps them to secure their own incomes. Every smallholder farmer is an active part of a trade relationship, and not just a passive recipient of aid. As an African, I know what it means to be just a recipient of aid—financial aid only lasts for a short time, and does not have a sustainable impact. I am pleased to be able to support this initiative with my ‘Native for Cotton made in Africa’ collection, which I designed for OTTO. For me, these garments are a cultural expression of the post-apartheid regime in South Africa, and I am very proud to show by these garments, the creative potentials that exist in Africa.”
“Native”— a brand that is as varied as South Africa
“Native” is the name of the fashion label of South African designer Craig Native. The name “Native” also has a hint of “indigenous”, and that is also part of the background to the brand—it comes from Africa and represents the continent in all its diversity. At the initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation, Craig Native designed the “Native for Cotton made in Africa” collection for OTTO. The line comprises a varied range of shirts manufactured from Cotton made in Africa. “This collection enables me to show what potential there is in Africa. Anyone who buys a ‘Native’ product also buys a little piece of Africa”, says the designer.
Craig Native comes from the Cape Flats, the townships of Cape Town built for the oppressed coloured population during the apartheid regime. They are still characterised by a varied mix of the African cultures, scenes and lifestyles which grew up in the ghettos. This cultural diversity is also expressed by the “Native” brand: The graphics on the garments are derived from traditional African patterns. Many of the styles are inspired by the Ndebele or Zulu tribes, but the design approach goes beyond that and presents a contemporary image of Africa and its wide range of people. “I have friends from all classes and all walks of life: I know really poor people that live in huts, and also people who have achieved respected positions in society. I give preference to no-one, but embrace them all”, says Craig Native, who is highly conscious of his own roots.
„We are trying in this collection to reflect both modern times, and traditional Africa”
So “Native” does not stand for a single style, but for “lifestyles”: football, glamour, poverty, 80s-style, and 50s-jazz-style are just some of the elements incorporated by the artist in his designs. The blend of traditional and modern, rich and poor, has caused “Native” to be described as the “Robin Hood brand”. Not because they take from the rich to give to the poor, but because they represent the different worlds of Africa whether rich or poor.
“I want to show the people behind the scenes, and to thank them”, says Craig Native, who is concerned, above all else, with the message behind the brand. It is that “South Africa is a real place, which is influenced by globalisation. A highly diverse country.”