Archive for the ‘Hemma Fashions’ Category

Designers of Color: Hemma Collection

December 12, 2009
Q: How did Hemma Fashions come about?
A. In the spring of 2007, while attending NYU, the designers studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa, where we discovered beautiful African textiles. While Cindy, pursued a career in law, and Edna, medicine, they also independently designed for years. They were inspired by African fashion and textiles, in particular intricately handwoven Kente. Drawing from its rich history, they began incorporating Kente into the garments that they made for themselves while in Ghana. At the same time, they were dedicated to volunteering as teachers at La Yahoushua, a local middle school. The passion for their students transcended the classroom as they advised a photography club, extending to many students their first opportunity to capture the world around them.

Once back in New York, Edna and Cindy received such wide acclaim for their designs that they launched a lifestyle brand combining African luxury with a fresh spin on classic designs. Hemma is a luxury womenswear collection that incorporates the same traditional techniques that have been used to weave Kente for African nobility for centuries. The name Hemma derives from the word “ohemma,” meaning queen in the Twi language of Ghana. Hemma affords each client an opportunity to dress with undeniable contemporary style while indulging in the textures and richness of royalty. 5% of all profits will be donated to the school that remains so dear to our hearts.
Q. Tell our blog readers a little about each designer’s vision when they created the line. What was the objective?
A. Edna – My vision for the 2010 Hemma collection was to have a chic yet classic collection. We wanted to bring this intricately hand woven fabric to the West and reveal how well the Hemma garments can be mixed and matched with pieces you already have in your closet. I also wanted it to have the cosmopolitan style of a New Yorker, with an international twist.

Cindy – I was inspired by the celebration of the women’s silhouettes present in African fashion. With this collection, we wanted our garments to flatter a women’s shape, allowing her to feel confident about what she is wearing. I also wanted to stay true to the tradition of kente being used for the royal class by creating a chic and immaculately tailored collection that would make any women feel like royalty.
Q. What are a few things you consider when creating a collection? Where do you find inspiration when creating looks?
A. We find inspiration by thinking about what women would feel comfortable in yet turn heads. The Hemma woman will make a statement, what kind of statement is up to the client—we have an all Black Asante suit which has detailed pattern on a solid subtle palette but we also have the beautiful Blue Asante suite that has patterns using black and copper, always a show stopper. The best part is that all of our suits can be worn together or as separates depending on the look you hope to execute.
Q. Describe Hemma using three adjectives.
A. Chic, Innovative, One-of-a-kind
Q. Tell us about your latest collection. What excites you about it?
A. In Hemma’s latest collection we used a sleek silhouette that lends itself to all shapes and sizes and creates a beautifully fitted garment that hugs the right places. Construction and fit are a major focus in the 2010 collection. We pride ourselves on creating clothing that makes women feel comfortable and confident. We also wanted to emphasize the wear-ability of Hemma while maintaining its luxe feel. This high-end vision is achieved by putting attention into even the smallest of details, for example by creating custom made buttons with the Hemma adinkra symbol, the dwennimmen, a powerful image in West Africa that represents humility & strength. This is one of the pillars of Hemma’s first collection, being a powerful force in contemporary fashion but also incorporating humanitarian aspects through The Hemma Foundation. The pieces in this collection, while being very stylish are not trends. They are very well constructed garments that can sustain the test of time. Hemma’s pieces are so versatile that they can be worn now and for years to come.
Q. You donate 5% of your profits to charity. How important is helping the community to you?
A. We both volunteered as teachers and photography club advisors at La Yahoushua Junior Secondary School in Accra, Ghana. We witnessed the economic hardships faced by young children in Ghana, many of whom work long hours to assist their families. Numerous primary and secondary schools also lack basic resources such as bathrooms and up-to-date learning materials. In order to improve the educational facilities while granting disadvantaged students an opportunity to attend school, we created The Hemma Foundation. We will continue to guide the foundation’s growth and support its efforts by way of an ongoing investment of 5% by Hemma’s annual sales. 

Q. What else does the future hold for Hemma? What would you like to see happen for the brand in the next five years? Do you have any free standing stores/boutiques?
A. Hemma’s future is very bright. This is just our first collection and our future collections will continue to evolve and improve. Characteristics of Hemma that will remain constant are Quality of fabric and construction, Beauty in pattern and color, and a Fit that will make women feel good about their curves. In the next five years we would like to be in boutiques across the country and around the world, as well as have expanded to our men’s collection. We will hopefully have a flagship store by that time as well.


Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?
A. There are so many things to love aesthetically about Hemma but we are very proud about Hemma’s economic and social impacts as well. Since the inception of Hemma, we have created jobs for individuals in Ghana as well as here in NYC. For many of our employees, the fair wages that Hemma provides is their only means of supporting themselves and their families.

Also, we are very strong proponents of the green movement and are a very socially conscious company. It’s about time that society and fashion wake up more to eco-friendly practices that work towards sustainable and innovation. Each of us has to do our part in the fight to be more responsible and accountable for our world and the society we live in. Hemma is doing its part by using raw, organic cotton to weave the Kente that is colored with natural dyes. The weaving process takes a very long time, about 2-3 months to create enough fabric to construct 2 suits. But it is all woven by hand on wooden looms not in factories and no tools are used. Only certain families with this tradition in its lineage can pass on the skill of weaving Kente.

We are proud to bring such a chic, luxe collection to the market and through it also expand the innovation, social conscience and face of fashion!

Bravo to Hemma Fashions! — O