By Stephanie Shave
Two South African sisters with a drive to design sustainable fashion and a passion for empowering women within their community created an ethical brand known as Liv & Light. The ethos of the brand Created by Healed hands is one to be admired. According to Gabrielle, one of the founders and a doctor, she was inspired by a patient of hers who was housebound due to physical ailments.
The business started with just four former female patients attending sewing courses in order to equip them with skills that could be used in the future. Each woman was supplied with the equipment required to sew up the pieces while Gabrielle oversaw the designing of each garment herself.
As Liv & Light expanded, they realised they could not keep up with order and demand, and brought on board three professional seamstresses. This adjustment to the setup needed to be made if they wanted to continue supporting women through skill-based training and the purchasing of more sewing machines. Despite the growth in the label, they still remain true to who they are.
“We will never produce huge quantities of garments as this does not support our ethos of slow and considered consumerism.”
Sustainable fashion is more than just the materials used to produce a garment, and Liv & Light have encapsulated that in their beautiful packaging. In a move away from custom made boxes, items are packaged in drawstring canvas bags with the intention for customers to use them again. They have also changed from standard printed hangtags to hangtags made from seed paper. A lovely touch as customers can plant these hangtags and enjoy growing their own fresh harvest of herbs.
Liv & light are an unstoppable force, and with the #AmINext movement, against gender-based violence, shaking South Africa to its core, they decided there was more they could do.
Through a collaboration with South African sportswear brand ESJAY, they took a stand. With the help of architect and creative Katherin Grace Hall, the For Her activewear range was created. The design of the print was made using the faces of a few of the women who have fallen victim to gender-based violence in South Africa.
“We created an activewear range which we hope people will support and wear with a heart of protest and of love.”
Two female-driven businesses made use of their platforms and resources not only to join the protest but to raise money for women who have been victims of gender-based violence and abuse. All profits go to two organizations that care and support women in their communities, namely; Jes Foord and Angels Care Centre.
Collaborating on a range of activewear is a purposeful and powerful form of protest. Activewear is finally being targeted and created exclusively for women by global brands, who see the buying power and value in investing in women and their desire to empower themselves through any form of exercise. This collaboration is following the same train of thought; exercise, no matter the type, is about feeling strong and feeling strong allows one to feel in control.
Giving a brand or a protest movement power or traction through celebrated victories and unity is extremely important in this social media dominated market place, and this collaboration managed to navigate both seamlessly. Instead of a tone-deaf attempt at profit off of a social justice campaign, Liv & Light is a shining example of fashion and forceful protest successfully existing as one.
These remarkable sisters have created an authentic fashion brand that is paving the way for a more sustainable future.