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Sancho's Dress: Hand Woven, Eco-Friendly Clothing & Accessories from Ethiopia

Sancho's Dress is an Africa-inspired clothing brand whose eco-friendly, hand woven clothes, accessories and jewellery are inspired by the beauty of Ethiopia. Sancho's employs marginalised women in Northern Ethiopia to make their garments, helping build sustainable livelihoods. Aduna is fully supportive of any initiative to empower women in Africa, especially when it's combined with stunning, eco-friendly fashion! 

We spoke to the founder Kalkidan Legesse to find out more about the company:

1. Tell us about Sancho’s Dress and why you founded it?

Sancho's Dress was founded to share the best of Ethiopia with the world, to promote and develop sustainable production in rural communities and to provide more options to the conscious shopper on a budget. We began by spending a lot of time shopping in hilltop artisan markets where I fell in love with woven materials: the tactility of hand spun cottons, the fantastic timber looms and the people who devoted themselves to a craft they learnt from their ancestors. 

2. Where did the name “Sancho’s Dress” come from?

Sancho's is an Ethiopian nickname given to two types of people: young chubby girls, and body building shepherds with necks as strong as hyenas. Bearing in mind that hyenas pose a threat to wooden homes throughout Ethiopia it is a name to be revered. We were drawn to the harmony between the soft and the strong which resonated with the type of clothing we stock and produce. 

3. You call yourselves an ethical fashion brand. What does “ethical fashion” mean to you?

For us "ethical fashion" defines the process of making clothing where the environmental and social impacts of production are taken into account. For example, as synthetic fabrics are often not renewable or biodegradable we only use natural materials such as cotton, linens and wools. If we work with synthetic fabrics, they are always reclaimed and upcycled in order to help combat wastefulness. We also believe in the effectiveness of job creation and fair payment to lift people out of poverty through fair trade. We therefore pay a fair wage to our weavers, which is 4 times the national government minimum wage in Ethiopia. Whenever we purchase produce from a market or an independent seller, we always pay ahead of production to help them with supply cost. This process means that artisans, weavers and makers are able to produce clothing in a way that gives them a good wage to re-invest into - and seek better outcomes for - themselves and their families. 

4. What are your most popular pieces? 

People have fallen in love with our new Indigo Shibori collection. Each item is dyed by hand with elegant modern patterns that are completely summer 2016! We love to make them so this has been a special treat for us this summer. 

5. How are you creating a positive impact in Northern Ethiopia?

We believe there are 3 main ways we are creating a positive impact. Firstly, we are creating environmental, sustainable low carbon and technologically appropriate jobs by working with people who produce on wooden looms. They are able to make material for garments in cork houses with no electrical expenses, need for heavy machinery or expensive maintenance costs. Secondly, we work to improve quality of production and design. Quality control helps to spread better practice across the general market. Finally, we believe by being a source of positive stories and information from Ethiopia we are able to challenge out of date perceptions about the East African country. Hopefully through this we will inspire more research, travel, appreciation and understanding of Ethiopia as well as other misunderstood and undervalued countries. 

Sancho's Dress Employees

6. What makes your clothing line eco-friendly?

Our clothes are produced on wooden looms so when woven they are completely carbon neutral. We use natural sustainable and biodegradable fabrics and natural organic dyes which are also biodegradable and sustainable to produce. 

The non eco alternative is synthetic fabrics which come from non renewable oils, and which will not biodegrade, and synthetic dyes which can have incredible negative ecological effects in production to the environment, water sources, and to the people involved in creating them. 


Sancho's Dress have a shop in Exeter, UK, or you can see their full range on their website Aduna Feel Good Tribers can enjoy an exclusive 20% off all online orders, simply enter aduna20 at the check out.*

*Expires 30/06/16