For more updates about the The BoF 500 subscribe to the Daily Digest newsletter

For more updates about the The BoF 500 subscribe to the Daily Digest newsletter

{alt missing}

Alice Heusser & Olivia Kennaway

Co-Founders, Lalesso

Having met at fashion school in Cape Town, the designer duo emphasised traditional East African craftsmanship and textiles.

Biography

Self-described "children of Africa," Alice Heusser and Olivia Kennaway were fashion designers of the brand Lalesso, a luxury African fashion and lifestyle brand, until August 2018 when they closed the label. The business model is transparent, sustainable and relies on ethical production facilities in Kenya and South Africa.

Kennaway grew up in Kenya and attended boarding school in Dublin before moving to Cape Town to study fashion design — where she met Heusser, who was born in England and moved to South Africa at the age of 7. At university, the duo were inspired by the colourful East African khanga cloth in rich, vibrant prints and they formed Lalesso after travelling to the remote island of Lamu, where coastal Swahili women wore the khanga cloth.

Their native land’s widespread poverty also compelled the pair to incorporate fair trade practises and provide skills training and jobs to the local women. In 2009, Heusser and Kennaway launched SOKO, an independent production unit that supports local talent and crafts. Besides Lalesso, a variety of other clothing brands utilise SOKO’s production capabilities.

Taking note of local creative artisans and talents, Lalesso included various aspects of traditional craft and beading into the apparel, such as beaded bracelets, carved coconut buttons and metalwork. Lalesso had also been produced in South Africa as well, in part as a move to protect the country’s garment industry, which had been threatened by manufacturers moving out of the country.

Climate change and environmental concerns are also top of mind for Heusser and Kennaway. To that end, they have taken steps to become, according to the company, one of the world’s only ‘zero-carbon’ fashion brands.

Career

Lalesso

Lalesso

Co-Founders

2005 - Present

Cape Town, South Africa

Vital Statistics

Nationality

Kenya/ South Africa

Location
South Africa
Member since
2014

Similar Profiles

Christophe Lemaire

Designer, Lemaire

Prabal Gurung

Designer, Prabal Gurung

Nicolas Ghesquière

Artistic Director of Women's Collections, Louis Vuitton

Amaka Osakwe

Designer, Maki Oh


What is The BoF 500?

The people shaping the global fashion industry, curated by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on nominations and on-the-ground intelligence from around the world.

Presented by Snapchat