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Diarra Blu Speaks to Vogue US About Building A Sustainable, Inclusive Brand

BellaNaija Style

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Senegalese fashion designer and mathematician Diarra Bousso talks to American Vogue about building a sustainable business with an artisanal mindset.

On merging artisanship and technology

“I think I had a bit of an identity crisis, because Silicon Valley is all about technology, and I was a math student at Stanford with this artisan background,” she explains. “I felt a sense of guilt. So when I decided to launch a line, the first thing I did was go back to the artisanal village. I spent a few weeks there just watching how they work and thought about how I could incorporate technology.”

On sustainability as a way of life

“A few years ago, I went back to my uncle’s workshop and was explaining the sustainable fashion movement to him, and I asked what our word for sustainability was,” Bousso explains. “And he said, ‘We don’t have a word for it… It’s just life.’ He was mind-blown that it’s a trend in the West. They never waste anything, and it’s a result of having so few resources. It isn’t a matter of choice—if you have a cow, you use the entire animal, including the horns. If you have a piece of fabric, you cut it at a special angle so you can make two dresses, not one, and use the scraps for something else, because you probably won’t be able to buy more for another week.”

On how brands can do more to be more inclusive and celebrate Blackness

“Brands need to tell their stories, and ask themselves how they can do more for them. Whatever they’re doing, they can do more.” … “Right now, I’m kind of annoyed by the brands that are using Black Lives Matter as an Instagram post. They’re saying, ‘we stand with you’—but what does that mean? You’re posting on Instagram, but what have you done? You have to empower the people in your supply chain‚ tell their stories, and humanize blackness, so it isn’t just tokenism. It can’t just be a Black model in a campaign—you have to be intentional about how you celebrate them.”

Click here for the full feature on Vogue.com

Photo credit: DiarraBlu

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