Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On the Road with DRC ApeParel

Finishing touches for fashionSPARK in Raleigh,NC

For a clothing line and team of fashion designers, taking your garments on the road is one of the most invigorating and intense things you can do. Massive amounts of work, stress and attention to detail are involved in producing a new line and then a public performance to showcase it. So, this weekend when we took our new clothing line, Fresh Off The Boat, on a two-day fashion show trip that culminated from months of preparation and planning into the premier of what we see as the next generation of DRC ApeParel clothing, we were ecstatic when it hit the runway.

Models get their cues

Our first show was in Atlanta on Thursday, September 16th at Ponder Wonder. Then on Friday, September 17th we joined twenty fellow fashion designers in downtown Raleigh, NC at City Plaza for our 5th year at fashionSPARK! Both venues showcased new t-shirt designs and an exciting new line of dresses and jackets that put a unique spin on the union of traditional patterns and modern styles. Three stunning dresses were handmade by Alyjah Tafari, a designer and seamstress we seem to have reconnected with by fate. And the jewelry our models accessorized with for the shows was handmade by the talented Kween, Linette Knight, and Woodville Inc. (who is Julie Pitts and Adriane Matlock).

Unique bracelets by Kween
Alyjah Tafari replaces a button on one of her seven stunning dresses
In the months before the shows, as we prepared garments and coordinated plans, our dedicated business partners and amazing friends and family spent long hours supporting us and our vision. For this we want to give our immense gratitude and thanks. 

It's cool to be conscious!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fresh Off The Boat

When passionate ideas and ingenuity come together sparks fly, and given the right circumstances those sparks can start a fire. This Friday, September 17th SPARKcon comes to downtown Raleigh where we will kick start the weekend with fashionSPARK!

Our new line Fresh Off The Boat will be showcased along with many other local clothing designers and two jewelry designers at City Plaza, starting at 8pm.

The new line will be available for purchase at the fashionSPARK Shop the next day held at City Plaza on Saturday, September 18th from 10am-5pm. We will have promotional deals and a raffle to win a DRC garment! In tandem with this opportunity, our DRC ApeParel website will be having an online sale, so be sure to check out these great chances to purchase your favorite DRC apparel.

We’d love to see you out to the fashion show and the fashionSPARK Shop – both are great ways to learn more about who we are and support what we do!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Conflict to Clean

In 1997, Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC – after 30 years of dictatorship. The new name struck a cord with two Congolese cousins living in North Carolina and it was while one was in college and the other in the Navy, that their ideas to start a conscious clothing line began to spark. Then, Eric Ndelo made a trip to Europe and upon visiting Belgium discovered the lack of Congolese representation in clothing. His return home marked the beginning of what would soon be a burning desire to bring awareness, and ultimately solutions, to the struggles of Pan African communities through fashion. Roderick Vakala, his cousin, and two other college friends agreed and in 2004 the first T-shirts were made. This burst of energy and creativity came from the line’s first theme “Rocking Your History on Your Chest!”, and today our style has grown into the exclamation “It’s Cool to be Conscious!”

The company flame grows stronger and we have begun to focus on sending our messages at the global level. To do this we are partnering with Enough, a project to end genocide and crimes against humanity, on a campaign to bring full transparency to the on-going, highly profitable business of extracting conflict minerals and processing them into electronics that we use today, like cell phones and laptops. These communities are at the ground level of this risky process where lives are lost and families are disconnected, and many choose it for a simple but very real reason – to put food on the table. So, the idea is to turn these “conflict minerals” into “clean minerals” by bringing awareness to the global community of the problems caused by this business and by influencing the governmental powers and international controls to put pressure on the appropriate parties.

To combat struggles of this nature – for food, survival and livelihood – action is required. Not just talk, but action. Enough’s mission statement begins like this:

The Enough Project is helping to build a permanent constituency to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity. Too often, the United States and the larger international community have taken a wait-and-see approach to crimes against humanity. This is unconscionable.

Our mindset is that this type of injustice requires strong action and dedicated prevention and that is what binds the relationship between our two organizations. We offer a creative, colorful connection that speaks to people through clothing, and Enough is the direct and calculated voice of knowledge and experience regarding solutions on a global scale. Together we believe we can have a great impact on bringing the pain inflicted by these atrocities to an end.

See us “speak” at SPARKcon!