Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Our Dakar Workshop

Alou working hard on one of two sewing machines in the Ouakam workshop.

Finding a space to work in Dakar wasn't easy. Luckily for us, our dear friend Anne-Marie Diatta (whose work we spoke about here) graciously allowed us to use her workshop in Ouakam, Dakar.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Dakar Markets - Marché Malien

The Marché Malien (Malian Market) is one of my favourite places in Dakar. It used to be situated around the gorgeous Gare de Dakar which up until a few years ago functioned as a train link between Dakar and Bamako, Mali. The Malian Market sprung up quite naturally around the station as it acted for so long as the trading link between Senegal and Mali. The station is no longer open, and the Dakar-Bamako train is a thing of the past, but the market lives on.

Stacks of shea butter, incense and jars of jewellery.

Sadly, while I was in Dakar in early 2015, the Malian Market was in the process of settling into a new location away from the train station and closer to the centre of town. Many of the traders were upset about this - it turns out the land the market had been on, next to the train station, had been sold to foreign investors and was about to be turned into apartments.

Despite this upheaval, business continued as usual and the traders were continuing to sell their wares even amongst last minute construction and without the electricity connected in the new site. I went to the market to source all the bogolanfini we used in the new collection (we wrote about the fabric here and our use of it here). I became somewhat of a regular, and whenever I needed to pick up some bogolanfini I would call Habib. 

Habib is Senegalese-Malian, and has been working at the market for a long, long time. He works in a store that sells all types of fabrics (Bamako is known as a the textile capital of West Africa for a reason) as well as beads, jewellery, beauty products, incense and traditional outfits (including the most stunning men's kaftans made from a heavy, handwoven cotton). Habib is a charmer, and would insist on teaching me some Bambara (the main language of Mali) and regularly slip small containers of fresh shea butter into my bag without me knowing! He is also a great negotiator, and we had a lot of laughs as I stumbled through my broken Wolof to try and get the right price! If you're in Dakar and looking to buy some bogolanfini, or any other Malian products, ask around for Habib at the market and tell him I said 'M'bifé' (which is the first expression he taught me in Bambara - it means 'I love you'!).

Habib at the Marché Malien

Extra viewing: Short documentary 'Dakar Terminus' (in French) documents the journey from Bamako to Dakar of female traders bringing 'thioup' (dyed cotton cloth called bazin). Around the 8:27 mark you get a great glimpse of what the Gare de Dakar was like in its heyday.

Thanks to Djibril Drame for the photos.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Partner Profile: Alassane Dioum and Singare Ndiaye

Singare Ndiaye (L) and Alassane Dioum (R) in our workshop in Ouakam, Dakar.

We're really excited to introduce you to Singare Ndiaye and Alassane Dioum, the artisans behind the garments which feature in our 2016 collection. Singare and Alou worked tirelessly to create the garments in a small atelier in Ouakam, nestled in the north of Dakar.

Friday, 23 September 2016

New Collection Launch

We're really excited to announce we're preparing to launch our newest range! As the sun begins to shine a little stronger and we begin to approach the glorious Australian summer, we've been busy working on a new way to bring the latest Madame Tây garments to you. We're also really excited to introduce you to the artisans we partnered with to create this new range of garments - so stay tuned!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Interview with Yevu

Welcome to the second interview in our "ethical" fashion series. Today, we speak to Anna Robertson - the force behind YEVU.

1. You’ve now been running YEVU for more than two years. Can you tell us the story about how YEVU got started and what were your motivations for creating  it?

I started YEVU with no long term plans. It was created quite organically out of a love of West African print and a vision to transform them for the Australian summer. The response in Sydney was pretty incredible and I realised there was a demand for it here, and its just grown since then. I think since that initial inception, its become much more than that - partnering with small businesses who have little income and working with mostly economically disadvantaged women has become the foundation for the enterprise. I am slowly trying to scale this side of it up, monitor, evaluate and grow in social impact.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Dakar Markets - HLM

The bustling markets of Dakar and the people who we met there are such an important part of the Madame Tây creation process. We spent hours trawling through piles of fabric, visiting shop after shop and chatting with so many shop assistants and traders, its hard to remember everyone's names!

Today, we're giving you a glimpse of Marché HLM - Dakar's largest and most renown textile market.  HLM is the place we found lots of our wax print, some of the cotton and silk-mix linings we used, as well as buttons and zips. We'd like to show you around, and introduce you to some of the people we worked with to source all our materials. If you're in Dakar and are looking for textile supplies, drop us a line and we'll gladly pass on our friends' contact details.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Focus on Fabrics: Bogolanfini

Bogolanfini, otherwise known simply as bogolan has recently taken the Western design world by storm, with the distinctive geometric cloth popping up in all sorts of homewares and decoration sites. Despite this recent emergence in the Western design world, bogolanfini has a long history in Mali, where it originates and where it continues to play an important cultural role.

Bogolanfini by Naktune Diarra, The Smithsonian