Caterina Bortolussi started her fashion label with a conscience ‘Kinabuti’ in 2010. Her vibrant designs are greatly inspired by the country of Nigeria, and Bortolussi made an inspiring decision to use fashion and her label as a catalyst for change in the deprived region.
"I thought, 'Why can't we use fashion as a vehicle to make a difference?' We should lead by example," says Bortolussi. "We should do something that will make a difference and inspire other people. That is what I want to do with Kinabuti: positive action."
Kinabuti’s ethos is to engage with the local Nigerian community and, through fashion, provide opportunities and training to the people who need it most.
One of these opportunities included casting 21 local girls to model her designs. None of these girls held any prior experience in modelling, but took part in training at ‘Buti Camp’ where they had the chance to learn and perfect many tricks of the trade including make up & hairstyling, runway walking and striking a fierce pose that Tyra Banks would be oh-so-proud of.
These lucky few became the chosen ‘Kinabuti girls’ and are fortunate enough to regularly work with the label in promoting and modelling the designs. Aside from industry experience, their role also provides the precious opportunity to network with so many different people, and to also work alongside other designers, and learn many relevant and valuable skills which they will keep for life, and will significantly brighten each of their futures.
"It's not every day in life that we have the opportunity to do what we want to do... Being part of Kinabuti has showed me that I can do things. It made me believe in myself. Having that in my head ... has been the most exciting part of this experience so far." - Ini Godwin, one of the young models.
If I were you, I’d keep my eyes on Kinabuti, as Bortolussi has many more ambitious plans for Nigeria where her label is concerned - "Our focus is on the community," she says; "What we want to do for next year is organize training for tailors in skills like draping, dress-making, making patterns and creating new fabrics.
The website for this amazing label is: http://www.kinabuti.com/
You can also follow the label on twitter, and like it on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kinabuti/101107026629393 Go on, show your support!
And you can read the full story of this campaign here: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/27/world/africa/fashion-nigeria-kinabuti/index.html (all images are from here)
This is yet another great story of someone in the fashion industry who is taking a stand, and deciding to do things her way. Power to you sister! You’re an exemplary role model for all the young fashion kids out there at this moment, who aspire to be designers one day. You make me believe that change is possible; you just have to want to be a part of that change. If you don’t like how things are in the industry right now, then don’t just sit on your bum and except it. Change it. Fight for something. Be a part of shaping your world – because if you don’t, I guarantee that somebody else will.