Product of the Week Chitenge Cushions

by Rob Arnott July 07, 2015

People are always asking us what our favourite Okapi Home product is and to be honest, it’s a tough one.

Having said that, our vibrant Chitenge cushion collection is certainly right up there. We work with a tailor in the Malawian city of Blantyre who is an expert at what he does and a cool dude to boot. William, or Mr WYM as he prefers to be known, is one of a whole host of Malawian tailors who have struggled to make ends meet in recent years, rather bizarrely, as a result of the charitable donations of others many thousands of miles from Malawi.

As the BBC reported back in 2013, the flood of second hand clothes from Western countries into the markets of Malawi has put many local tailors out of business. They simply can’t compete with the cheap clothes which are arriving in the country having been donated to charity shops in Europe and North America.

Whilst the second-hand clothes trade has grown to £641m annually in Malawi, 10 times its value in 1990, the tailors, an integral part of Malawi’s heritage and cultural identity, passing on knowledge and skills from one generation to the next have been fast disappearing.

At Okapi Home we are pleased to be able to play our small part in protecting the traditions and skills which still exist within the Malawian textiles industry. Each of our cushions are handmade by Mr WYM and we currently have seven vibrant Malawian designs in stock. Why not come down to our next pop up day, at the Cabbages and Frocks* market in Marylebone this Saturday, 11th July and bag yourself a beautiful handmade cushion or two.

* Cabbages and Frocks Market, Saint Marylebone Parish Church, Marylebone Rd, London W1U 5BA

My WYM making cushions in Malawi

Mr WYM, Blantyre, Malawi

Rob Arnott
Rob Arnott