The Lovely LaLesso on the catwalk at Cape Town Fashion Week earlier this year.

Lalesso was launched in Cape Town 2005 by co-creators Olivia Kennaway and Alice Heusser. The inspiration behind the brand came from a holiday to Olivia’s home country Kenya where the pair travelled to the remote Island of Lamu on the north coast of Kenya. The traditional ‘uniform’ of the local women in these coastal regions is the captivating beautiful ‘khanga’ or ‘lesso’; it’s intrinsic patterns and vibrant colours grasped the attention of Olivia and Alice and in no time they managed to combine fashion college deadlines with the birth of the Lalesso brand.

The ideology was centred on transforming this wonderful piece of East African heritage into some stylish, fun and contemporary designs and in doing so to involve the local community’s in Kenya and South Africa and create fair employment to all those involved at the production level. Having graduated with an ND in Fashion Design in Cape Town they decided to launch in the UK and Europe in the beginning of 2007. A contract with high street retail giant Topshop and some other great leads has seen Lalesso step up to it’s ideals of African heritage with modern appeal.

Lalesso has shown several times at Pret-a-Porter in Paris, Magic in Las Vegas, Sanlam Fashion Week, opened Cape Town Fashion Week in 2008 and 2009, took part in the inaugural Africa Fashion Week in June 2009 and London Pure in 2009 and 2010. They also showed at London Fashion Week’s Esthestica in September 2009 as well as being the winners of the 2009 ‘Fashion Innovation Award’ from the British Ethical Fashion Forum. In 2010 they were Awarded the ‘Woman of The Year’ award by Glamour Magazine and launched their first collection for Woolworths.

Now stocked in stores in more than 17 countries, as well as regularly featuring in fashion magazines globally and adorned by style icons Sienna Miller, Kate Moss and singer and Estelle, Lalesso continues to spread it’s African roots to the fashion world.

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