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Wearing Your Roots

24 March 2022

Yakha Ningiza dressed in IA by Ana Alexe for Wild Olive Artisans

Since existence yarns weave the warp of civilisation. Beyond appearance and conflicts, creativity and its fruits always show us the way to that dimension in which humanity finds itself and communicates harmoniously, precisely because it reconnects to the essence that unites and supports the course of life. Robert Sobukwe said that for "Africanists", the word 'race', when referring to people, has no plural form. It is only one race, the human race, and humans are creative. From the beginning we passed ancestral knowledge, experiences, and aesthetic visions from father to son, evolving to a better life for all. 

Clothing is a new territory for us. The seed that germinated in the fertile soil of our desire to add new dimensions to the Wild Olive Artisans world, sprouted at the end of last year through an encounter with Romanian artist Ana Alexe. This first shirt is a distillation of our philosophy rooted in culture, respect for nature and artisanal work. It is an atemporal suggestion for a slow, better life in harmony with nature. 

Ana Alexe is a clothing creator from that part of the world where ‘designer’ means a vision accurately conveyed through clothes, the “packaging”, or our everyday wear. Clothes with meaning and stories, taken as far as her imagination allows… She creates since 2002, presenting her vision through clothing designed, she says “until the forms on the canvases have disintegrated, leaving only the substance, and then I gets lost. The alternative path of ethics and art kept me away from trade and brought me the freedom to do what I love ... [...] Making clothing today seems like an unnecessarily big gesture, like the city that suffers and suffocates with clothes, but on another hand, the gesture gives me the strength to study their metaphysical status, the possibility and transcendental conditions of their existence, and I realise now that things remain further unclear.

Our shirt is called Ia and it is claimed from the Romanian folkloric essence. It seeks to open an imaginary and timeless bridge between the Romanian culture and that of tribes of Southern Africa, and perhaps other tribes we do not yet know of... Everyone’s shirt ...  The elements found on our Ia, such as the creases around the neck, the colour of the fabric, the choice of patterns’ colours and shapes, resemble elements of African traditional clothing. 

And this is how, an absolute artist and master artisans quietly make by hand shirts, one by one, only for those who like stories and the ideal of a life in harmony with nature. 

The first edition of the shirt can be viewed at our shops in Cape Town and Bucharest


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