American Apparel Partners With Sierra Leone Artisans on T-Shirt Collection

12/21/2015
American Apparel, Inc. has collaborated with West African artisans for the creation of a limited edition t-shirt collection.

The collaboration began when Massah KaiKai, a young, New York-based creative, pitched the idea to American Apparel. Haunted by a decade-long civil war and the Ebola virus, KaiKai sought to capture a more expressive, intimate portrayal of her family's homeland through a creative partnership with the American retailer.

Within months, thousands of American Apparel t-shirts were shipped to Sierra Leone, a group of local artisans were recruited, and a limited edition collection of t-shirts was created. Beginning Dec. 15, in-store and online shoppers can purchase t-shirts tie-dyed by artisans in the region. Although the array of styles in this collection is similar, each shirt's tie-dye design is completely unique.

The shirts will be available at 50 U.S. American Apparel locations as well its global online store. Fifty percent of the sales proceeds from this collection will be donated to the artisans who dedicated their time and talent to its design.

"Sierra Leone has faced some obstacles, but it's such a vibrant country where opportunity is possible for people with ideas and passion," KaiKai said. "I hope Sierra Leoneans are inspired by what we've done in partnership with American Apparel to showcase this talented community."

"American Apparel has always been a strong advocate for fair wages. Hopefully this project will be one small step toward paving the way for a world filled with equal opportunity," said Jon Henry Szymanski, director of co-branding and philanthropy at American Apparel.

American Apparel is grateful to Brussels Airlines, which helped with the shipment of thousands of t-shirts to and from Sierra Leone. American Apparel also extends its gratitude to One Family People, a human rights organization whose purpose is to break the social and professional barriers that the women of Sierra Leone face, providing acceptance and jobs in their communities.
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