Earlier this month, I got the chance to escape the craziness that is the fashion schedule and kick it with Liya Kebede down in Montauk where she was shooting her latest look book for her line Lem Lem. And it was hard not to feel like I’d really escaped the city, seeing as how the set–Chandelier Creative’s Montauk surf shack–was festooned with ten blow-up swans who were enjoying the ocean view along with the models.
It was the perfect setting for a collection grounded in easy, beachy woven pieces–the look we’ve come to know and love from Lem Lem. This season, though, Kebede had more in mind than just the beach: “Now we’re making it more city with little shorts and dresses.”
Lem Lem was established to save weaving artisan enclaves in Kebede’s native Ethiopia–but has since become a fashion industry favorite, even nabbing one of J.Crew’s coveted “In Good Company” partnerships.
Still, at its heart, Lem Lem is all about empowering the Ethiopian artisans it employs. “It’s not just a job [for them], it’s a growth in their creativity because we ask for their input as well,” Kebede told us.
The artisans also get an added–albeit unexpected–benefit from working on some of Lem Lem’s more fashion-forward pieces, like a pair of woven lounge pants. “They find it really fun, how different our needs are from what they usually do,” said Kebede.
Beautiful clothes for a great cause? Count us in! (Oh, and any time you want to invite me back for that lavender honey…I’m totes free!)