Esenam was one of Della's first employees, and over the last three years has worked her way up to head seamstress. She lets us know what it's really like working with the other women on the Della team (hint: lots of fun).
Where did you work before Della?
I was a nanny. I loved the kids, but I wanted to start working as a seamstress, so I started looking and found Della when a friend told me about them. Della is my first actual sewing job, and I really enjoy it.
What is your role now?
I was one of the first to be at Della, so I am a leader. My teammates come to me when they need jobs to do and I assign them different tasks, like sewing parts of a bag or cutting more fabric.
What’s it like working with the other women on the team? Are you all close?
It’s cool. Everybody is friendly! We laugh and talk to each other a lot. We laugh when someone makes a mistake. When we were doing the moto jackets, someone sewed the sleeve upside down so the armpit was facing the wrong way. We laughed and teased her about it. We always laugh. Everybody is close.
Do you have any secret talents, or is there anything in particular you do to make people laugh?
Acting! I love it. I like to fool around and have fun. Once I was acting in a scene where I had a sick daughter and the husband couldn’t afford the hospital bills. I had to act really, really mad. It was fun because I didn’t know I could act to that extent.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Hip-hop. I like 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Rhianna and Beyonce. My siblings usually bring new music to our house, so I am always discovering new music from them.
What is a traditional Ghanaian style of dress?
We like to wear traditional clothing called a slit and kabba to church. The slit is a floor length skirt and the kabba is a top made in a matching fabric. You don’t buy slit and kabba in the store; they are custom-made for each person. I have so many of them I can’t count! On normal days, I prefer to wear simple clothes, like jeans and a t-shirt.
What’s a normal, jeans-and-a-t-shirt day like for you in Hohoe?
I like to stay in the house. I watch movies a lot! I can spend the whole day watching movies! I like American movies and television, like The Vampire Diaries and Twilight, but I don’t let my children watch those with me. We watch cartoons together, like Barbie.
The Vampire Diaries is definitely worth watching all day. What are your children like?
When I was seven months pregnant, my sister unexpectedly passed away during her son’s birth. With the help of my mother, we adopted him. Chris, my son, and Na, my daughter, are now five. My mom stays at the house watching the kids while I’m at work. As a single mother in Ghana, it is very difficult. You get judged. If you have a child out of wedlock, people talk about you. I don’t care what people think. We are a happy and healthy family, and that is all that matters.
Totally agree. Aside from providing for your family, what are your goals for the future?
I want to open an orphanage. When I see children on the streets every day, I feel bad for them. They are in the hot sun and have to sell things just to get by. There are so many orphanages that say they are first class, but they are not. Everyone has to share things from toys to even beds. Some babies even sleep in chairs. I want every child to be comfortable. I want them to have time for their books so that they can prepare for their future. I don’t want them to feel that if their parents were alive, things would be different.
Shop Della x UO
Hi Marcello! Can you tell us what you do at UO?
I'm the Men's shoe specialist and self-proclaimed MAAC-ster (Master of Men's Accessories). I work at the Gaslamp location in San Diego, CA. We've got our own hashtag, #27killz.
Can you tell us what you're wearing?
I'm wearing the Hawaiian Print Shirt by CPO with my Hawkings McGill Cutoff Chino shorts and my TOMS.
You're rockin' the Zach Braff in Garden State look today (but like a cool Zach Braff). What's your daily style like?
I draw style from a lot of different places. I love Kramer's style (from Seinfeld) because his patterns are always on point, but I also love denim jackets and vests and band shirts. If I gave it a name, it'd be "punk-rock Kramer", haha.
By the way, how do you feel about Garden State? People still tend to have a lot of feelings about that movie.
I love it! The story is great, plus I've been a fan of Zach Braff since he was on Scrubs, and I've always had a thing for Natalie Portman. I heard Zach Braff was making a follow-up to that movie and I couldn't be more stoked to see it.
What's the general style like out in San Diego?
Ironically enough I feel like my outfit in the photo describes San Diego style perfectly, haha. Shorts/swim trunks and patterned button-up combinations are literally everywhere I go.
Are there any new styles/trends coming into the store that you're pumped to wear? I am not mad at all about the resurgence of Zubaz.
My favorite part of summer time at Urban is the swim trunk collection we get so I'm super psyched about those. I've also recently become a big Nike fan so I love the Rosheruns we've been getting.
Where can we find you online?
You can see what I'm thinking on Twitter, what I'm eating on Instagram, what I'm listening to on tumblr, and watch me on Vine, @marcelloisgreat.
The Avant/Garde Diaries’ spring season is starting off with a new series entitled “The Avant/Garde Diaries Premieres.” Samantha Casolari’s film, The Cycle Revealed, a "ruminative exploration of Robert Lepage’s production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at The Metropolitan Opera," will be the first event in the series. The event will take place Thursday, May 16 from 8-11 PM at 372 Broome St., NYC. There will also be performances by Valentin Stip, and a DJ set by Dave Harrington, one half of Darkside. —Katie
Urban Outfitters & Arts Thread are proud to introduce the Make It Design Competition! We like to party, but we need your help getting ready! Design something amazing for our Urban Outfitter girl to wear to a party this winter. Five winning designers will receive an incredible prize package and have their pieces sold at select Urban Outfitters stores! Can you make it?!
Make It Design Competition
What would Ann want?
Eggspress Heart-Shaped Egg Mold
For when she's got a hankering for a romantic mayonegg.
Diament Jewelry For Urban Renewal Vintage Name Bracelet
It doesn't matter that it doesn't say Ann. No one remembers her name anyway.
Anna Sui Rose Body Cream
I'm sure that Egg is a very nice person, but I don't want you spending all your money on diamond cream for her.
Staple Satchel Jersey Baseball Tee
Ann's low center of gravity makes her a great asset to the softball team.
A Hipster Joke Book
...She's really funny.
TLC - CrazySexyCool
She needs something to bring to the record burning party.
(Photos via Stephanie Sian Smith)
Bombe Surprise is a London-based fashion label run by Nina Ribena, and it is currently featured at our Bazaaaaar store pop-ups. We recently spoke to Nina about the story behind her brand.
Can you give our readers a little background on yourself?
I’m Nina, and I’m from London and still live here. I did a film degree at the London College of Communication but hated it so I decided to teach myself how to sew and here I am, five years later!
Where does the name “Bombe Surprise” come from?
I spent ages trying to think of a name for my label but everything I was coming up with didn’t really work. My friend used to run a club night called Bombe Surprise and as soon as I heard the name it just made sense. I think Bombe Surprise is actually a French dessert but I take it to mean a collection of different types of weird and wonderful ideas!
How long have you been designing clothes?
I made my first outfit for myself five years ago. It was a blue catsuit with red strawberries on it. People liked what I was doing so I started a label for one-pieces called We Are All in One. As I started to get better at designing and making clothes I ventured into the world of separates and that’s when I started Bombe Surprise.
Your line can be found on Etsy. How do you think Etsy has changed fashion?
It has definitely made my designs a lot more internationally accessible. Most of my orders are from customers in the U.S. If you don’t look at fashion blogs or have your designs stocked in other shops, then I’m not sure how people would find my label without the help of Etsy!
What made you decide to start using the patterns that you do? Where did they originate? Are they traditional African patterns?
I used to work solely with jersey and stretch materials and it’s quite hard to find good patterns in those fabrics. When I found the wax fabric that I use now, I jumped on it straight away because it’s what I’d always been looking for! When I decided I wanted to make a whole collection out of it I looked into the history of it and found that the prints actually originated in Indonesia. They weren’t very popular there and were copied and imported by mostly Dutch tradesmen and shipped over to their posts in Africa where they really took off and became part of, and widely associated with, African fashion and culture. I wanted to connect that to the multicultural identity of my own background, and to how London is this great big melting pot of different cultures. There’s an artist called Yinka Shonibare that does a lot of work around the same subject.
Maxi skirts are all over the place right now, and we should all rejoice. Don't feel like shaving your legs? Throw on a maxi! Don't feel like having your organs crunched by high-waisted denim? Throw on a maxi! Don't feel like taking off your PJ pants? Take 'em off, and throw on a maxi! With maxis you get to feel easy breezy and look good with almost no effort. It's a win/win! Here are some of our favorites. —Katie
The Reformation X Urban Renewal Bowery Maxi Skirt
Urban Renewal Button Front Maxi Skirt
Sparkle & Fade Silky Ombre Maxi Skirt
Ecote Double Slit Maxi Skirt
Pins And Needles Silky Double-Slit Maxi Skirt
Ecote Lace-Block Knit Maxi Skirt
Silence & Noise Geo Print High-Slit Maxi Skirt
Foxygen is your typical talented "damn-it-they're-so-cool" band from California, and their newest (awesome) LP, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, was released earlier this year. As it turns out, the January release is perfect summer music. —Katie
There's no double-gatefold action going on with this album, but the cover art is pretty awesome. Plus, the lyrics for all the songs are included on the inner sleeve, just in case you hear something that really speaks to you and you're too lazy to hop on the ol' Google.
Really into "No Destruction" (track 2) because it's kind of got some Dylan-esque vocal shenanigans going on, and I'm always down for anything that's Dylan-esque. The band has an overall "classic rock" vibe, especially on their first single from the album, "Shuggie." (Like, '60s-psych-band classic rock, not Rush-in-1984 classic rock [even though Rush is delightful in their own special way].)
What it's good for:
You know when there's a movie montage about everyone having a good time in the sunshine, and maybe there are some slow-mo shots of people laughing in the grass and like, a dripping ice cream cone? That's what this album reminds me of. It's great summertime hangouts music. And it also makes cleaning your room feel a lot less terrible. (Because as I found out when trying to take these pictures inside, my room is a dark hell-hole covered in dust, but now it's clean. Thanks, Foxygen!)
Shop Foxygen's We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Ruby Gbassakpo, a head seamstress at Della, spoke to us about what it's like living in Ghana, her plans to open her own sewing shop, and her favorite American music (Celine Dion!).
Where did you work before Della and how did you become part of the team?
I was a cleaning lady at the hospital. I didn’t like it because I wasn’t using any of the skills I learned from my sewing apprentice. Esenam’s [another seamstress] mom worked at the hospital, and we became fast friends. When Esenam found out I had my sewing certificate, she told me about Della. I quit my job at the hospital and started working at Della soon after. My first day, I worked on small tasks, like making piping and fixing labels. I have worked here for two and a half years now, and I am considered a leader among the ladies. I am very happy here.
What do you and the ladies talk about during the work day?
Sometimes we discuss about our boyfriends and we laugh at them. We like to make fun of each other. When someone sews a Della label on backwards, we tease them. We also like to sing gospel songs together while we sew.
What do you like to do for fun?
I listen to American music like R. Kelly, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. I like watching Ghanaian and Nigerian TV and films. My favorite American movie is Romeo and Juliet. I read everything. My boyfriend and I like to go out to eat together at restaurants. I go to church every Sunday, and I am always singing and dancing there.
Do you have any beauty secrets?
It takes me two minutes to get ready in the morning because of my hair is in braids. Every month I get paid, I change my hairstyle. I always wear skirts and tops. I get my toenails painted every week at my friend’s salon.
Do you have any children?
Carine, my daughter, is 9 and a half years old. I have tried to teach her to sew before, but she doesn’t like it. She wants to be a doctor.
Where did you learn your craft? How long have you been sewing?
I started my sewing apprenticeship with a madam seven years ago, and it took me three years to complete.
Do you ever wear your own creations?
I sew my own dresses. I don’t have a sewing machine at my own house, so I haven’t made as much for myself as I’d like.
What is your favorite Della product?
I like making the laptop cases. We were making them the first day I came here, and it still remains my favorite thing to make.
Do you have a secret talent?
I am a singer. I sing gospel songs at work while I am sewing. I also sing at church in a choir.
Do you cook? What’s your specialty?
I cook for me and my daughter when I have the time. My favorite food to make is banku with okra and green leaf soup. I enjoy going to the market and buying the ingredients, sometimes off of people’s heads. My daughter and I try to eat together every evening.
What do you want people to know about Ghana?
We have a lot of things here. We have freedom and self-expression. Everyone is unique. The waterfalls are a miracle and they are worth it to come and see.
What are your goals for the future?
I’d like to open my own sewing shop in Hohoe. I also want my daughter to go to college and get a good education.
Shop Della x UO
(Photo credit: David Perez)
Last night was the opening night of our NYC Bazaaaaar Pop-Up store, and to celebrate, we had an opening party, complete with an appearance by Tina Tangalakis from Della, with Wynn from Twin Shadow DJing. Plenty of people turned out to check out the collection, which features pieces from Osei Duro, Fashion Rising, African Lookbook, Obj and Totem, and more. If you missed the party, don't worry! The pop-up shop will be running at our 5th Ave. store until June 2nd, which leaves you plenty of time for browsing. —Katie
Lucille Bluth, matriarch of the eternally wacky Bluth family, is a prime example of what you shouldn't do as a parent. Whether she's guzzling vodka, or telling her children how much she doesn't care for GOB, she's always doing exactly the wrong thing. Which makes her a whole lot of fun. Let's take a look at some of Lucille's (probable) must-haves. —Katie
6oz. Fun Flask
Would it kill her to let some vodka go bad?
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael. What could it cost? $10?"
Sometimes all you need in the morning is a vodka rocks... and a piece of toast.
Love: Fries By Love Food Editors
Even though Lucille's system isn't used to curly fries, I have a feeling she could learn to love them if she tried.
Star Wars Print Tee
"Here's some money. Go see a star war."
KeepCup To-Go Cup
A cup with a lid, because if she wanted something your thumb touched, she'd eat the inside of your ear.
Hippies Always Welcome Poster
Okay, except cross out the "always" part because we all know Oscar is the only hippie Lucille would touch with a 10-foot pole.
Hi Anna! What do you do at UO?
Hello, blog team! I am the women's department manager at Urban Outfitters on Rush St. in Chicago's magical Gold Coast neighborhood.
Can you tell us what you're wearing?
It's all thrifted, except the socks are from Urban. The '90s mom jeans I thrifted in Omaha, Nebraska (where I'm from); everything else I scored in Chicago.
Did you make your shirt, or thrift it? What are your favorite thrift stores in Chicago?
Well, both! I found this amazing Simpsons printed flat sheet for 50 cents at the Village Discount Outlet in Irving Park in Chicago and couldn't pass it up. I thought maybe I'd make it into curtains or something. Then my best friend, Lauren (a fashion student and sales associate at the Urban in London, UK), designed an outfit from the fabric when she was here for a visit recently. There's a matching skirt, too!
I'm obsessed with thrifting, and Chicago is home to some of my favorite thrift stores. I love the Village Discount Outlet in Logan Square. It's a massive space, not the kind of thrift store you can peruse if you have only 10 minutes to kill. You gotta commit to an hour at least and do a lot of digging. But it's worth it when you leave with a garbage bag full of treasure!
But seriously, that Simpsons tank is amazing. Who is your favorite character on The Simpsons?
Ralph! He has some of the best quotes on the show. "Eww, Daddy, this tastes like Grandma!"
Do you love donuts the way Homer loves donuts? Any favorite donut places in Chicago? (MMM, donuts.)
That's a tough passion to rival. No, Homer has me beat. But I do love Glazed and Infused in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. They make some really creative donuts, like Peach Iced Tea or Blackberry Goat Cheese.
Where can we find you online?
I have an Instagram page where I post a lot of thrifted looks. Annarifraf is me!
(Photo credit: Colin Leaman; Model: Allie Teilz)
Maryanne Mathias and Molly Keogh are the owners of Osei Duro, an ethical fashion line that is run out of Ghana. We talked to them about how they got their start, where they source their materials from, and how they'd like to expand their line for the future.
How did you guys meet and what made you decide to start Osei Duro?
MM: We met in high school—we both had an interest in fashion and textiles and human expression through clothing, but we lost touch. I had been doing design at a small company in Montreal and I decided to travel around the world and research different textiles. I ended up doing capsule collections in different countries and saw an opportunity to do something on a larger scale. Molly and I met back up at our high school reunion and that’s when I asked if she would be interested in working with me. It grew from there.
Was starting an ethical fashion line something you initially set out to do?
MK: We were both interested in that, yeah. We were interested in the politics of production and transparency and doing something that we ultimately felt good about. And then figuring out what that means has been a process as the line develops.
Was there any specific reason that made you guys decide to work out of Ghana?
MK: There was a list of reasons. Maryann had gone to a bunch of different countries that produced their own traditional textiles and Ghana had other components that made it an easier place to start. There was also always the idea that our business could expand into other nearby countries.
What in Ghana inspires you for your clothing?
MK: People in Ghana dress really fearlessly. Things that North Americans tend to shy away from are really normal there, like lots of color, lots of print, and lots of dramatic shapes. That kind of expression and fearlessness is exciting for us to be around.
MM: They also have a lot of unique fabrics which is one of the main things that I love, and they also have a lot of traditional textile techniques, like batiking, which we’re really attracted to.
What are some of the different techniques you use to create your materials? Is there anything native to Ghana?
MK: Weaving. There’s a lot of hand weaving. Besides the batik [for dyeing], which just means wax, there’s other dye techniques. We don’t really do much, if any, tie-dye, but there are other methods that are similar to Japanese shibori, like stitching the fabric and then dyeing it. There’s also marbling. There are so many different things.
MM: We also do hand crochet. A lot of hand crochet.
Do you guys travel to many other places besides Africa to gather inspiration?
MK: Not as much as we’d like to. Maryann is living in Vancouver and she’ll make little trips within BC, and I’ll make trips within southern California where I live. We did travel around West Africa, though.
And did you pick up any other materials there?
MK: Yeah, we’ve bought fabric in all of the countries that we’ve been to around Ghana. We were sourcing a certain handwoven fabric from Togo for a while that we couldn’t find anywhere else.
MM: We're planning on expanding our countries; potentially production, but also textiles.
Can you tell us about some of the people you employ and how you go about finding people to work for you?
MK: The way we found people would be the same way you find people here, mostly by word of mouth. There’s nothing like Craigslist there, so it’s more a matter of talking to people, meeting people, and spending time with them and getting to know them. We work with a small factory that’s owned 2nd generation by a Ghanaian woman – she inherited it from her mother. We work with her, as well as all the people that work there for her. On the smaller scale, we work with individual tailors and seamstresses in our neighborhood. We work really directly with them and they’ll do smaller scale productions for us.
When we do large crochet productions, there’s a woman who organizes all of the crochet and that stays really cottage industry. Everyone who does that does it on a real informal level, so she organized all of these women out of their homes to do the crochet.
Does it take a long time to do all of this by hand?
MK: We try and give ourselves plenty of time. With dyeing we try to give enough time so that it can really be a process with the dyer. We’ll give her an idea, she’ll give us a result, we’ll maybe change something, maybe the result will be different than we thought but we like it better—it’s a real back and forth.
What are you guys excited to see with the pop-up?
MM: There’s another designer involved called Della—she works out of the Volta region in Ghana. I met a couple of her interns on a trip last summer which is how I heard about her, so it’s exciting to be able to meet other designers who are doing similar things.
Do you have any big projects lined up for the future?
MM: We’re in the process of designing 8 new bags and we’re working on another collaboration with the artist Megan Whitmarsh to design the prints. Those will be ready to launch in a few months.
MK: We’re also starting to do research about adding more traditional textiles from more countries into our production capacity which is really exciting.
Any particular textiles in mind so far?
MM: We’re criticized for our fall collections as being too summery because we use a lot of light fabrics and bright colors that are associated with summer in North America, so we’re thinking about using some South American wool to balance out our fall collections.
What’s one thing you want people to take away from your brand?
MK: I feel like it sounds clichéd, and I hesitate to even say it because it feels so clichéd, but clothing production can be transparent and still be exciting. The design doesn’t have to be compromised for the clothing to be thoughtfully made.
Prints are no longer just for your body, pals. This summer, you can wear prints by way of your shoes too. All of the best styles of shoes, flatforms, oxfords, and sneakers come in geo-prints, polka dots, tropical prints, etc etc. Literally so many options for your feet. No excuse for your outfit to be boring ever again! Vans, Converse, and Miista have some of the many brands that have the right idea. Its time to let your feet do the talking. - Maddie
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Mixed Print High-Top Sneaker
Vans Van Doren Leopard Authentic Sneaker
Study Footwear Polka Dot Drop Sneaker
Dr. Martens Castel 8-Eye Tie-Dye Boot
Deena & Ozzy Triple-Buckle Printed Stud Flatform
Fred Perry Foxx Paisley Sneaker
Shop shoes for girls and guys.
This Saturday, May 11, come on out to our newly opened Knoxville, TN, store and celebrate with us! We'll have free beer (for you of-age folk, of course), and free tunes, including a DJ set by Washed Out, as well as sets by Jackson Scott and TORRES. The fun starts at 6 PM, so set yo' clocks. The new store is located at 503 Market St., Arnstein Building, Knoxville, TN. See you there!