It was Autumn 2017 when I first laid eyes on SIKA, I was instantly drawn to their collection at the time – it was love at first sight. The pieces were chic and understated, yet bold and eye-catching. I recently found out their garments were made ethically, and I knew they had to be featured on my blog! The brand recently launched a new collection with Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish). We sat down with for an intimate interview to learn more about Sika with the Head Designer and Creative Director Phyllis Taylor.
When did Sika Designs launch? I set up SIKA in 2005 because I believed that fashion has the power and potential to make a positive contribution to society.
Where did the drive to create a conscious brand come from? My vision for SIKA is not only to produce quality made in Ghana garments for the international market, but also to ultimately to produce garments that have social and environmental responsibilities at its core. That means paying fair wages, employment creation and making a meaningful difference to the local community.
What does ethical fashion mean to you? The creativity of fashion and the desire to ‘make a difference’ and create a positive impact were things I was always very passionate about. For years I struggled to see how the two could work together until I started to read about ethical fashion and the positive impact fashion can have on people’s lives.
With SIKA, my goal has always been to prove that it is possible to run a self-sustaining clothing line and manufacturing business which has social and environmental principles at its core – paying fair wages, providing needed social services, a pleasant place of work and a commitment to limit its environmental impact. We work specifically with women in Accra (Ghana) as they are the main breadwinners of the families we interact with in the Ghanaian community.
Through SIKA we have given our employees an alternative means of making a living. Through training and employment we have enabled the women we work with to take control of their own lives and it allows them to lift themselves out of poverty.
Why did you choose to make your products in Ghana? My parents are from Ghana, but they moved to the UK before I was born. My dad felt it was important for me to get to know my extended family and therefore encouraged me to visit Ghana during the school summer holidays. During those trips I became interested in the wealth of talented dress makers and tailors that worked locally in the community and decided to start my own clothing line. It was important for me to produce in Ghana because I saw a real opportunity for a sustainable and creative long-term solution to poverty within a local community by promoting community-driven, ethical and environmentally aware trade in fashion.
I felt I could use my own experience gained within the UK fashion industry, to work with local people in Ghana to really make a difference and help promote the work of the talented tailors and dressmakers I work with.
Describe the typical Sika lady? The typical SIKA lady is bold and confident in her own skin. It is important for her to look good in both a professional and social setting. She appreciates SIKA because our pieces reflect that without compromising on quality. She does also however, know how important it is to consider the impact that her carbon trail is having on the environment and therefore shops to reflect this. She is definitely a proud badge wearing supporter of fashion lead ethical clothing.
Your new collection is a collaboration with Afua Hirsch, the pieces are absolutely beautiful, they are vibrant, fresh yet timeless. Tell me more about the inspiration and the story behind the garments? When Afua had finished writing her book Brit(ish), describing first-hand experience about being a British woman with multiple influences and heritage, she began appearing regularly on high-profile TV shows on the BBC, Sky News, and CNN. Afua was determined to reflect her message – that we are all navigating complex cultural identities – through her image and style yet struggled to find clothes that expressed who she is. We have been friends for many years and when she approached me to work on a cultural / ethically lead collection together I was excited to be a part of it.
Afua x SIKA is a unique collaboration between two British women, proud of their Ghanaian heritage, determined to use fashion to bring about progress and change. This collection consists of pieces that allow women to both blend in, and stand out, that speak to being both professional and creative, both part of a community and individual. African design meets modern European living, in a bold new style. Made in Africa, for everyone.
What is your favourite piece in the collection and why? My favourite piece from our Afua x SIKA collection is the ‘Afua Wrap Top’ which skilfully marries traditional print with plain cotton to create a piece that reflects Ghanaian culture within a quintessentially European cut. It’s beautiful!
Do you have any tips from our readers to shop more consciously? It is most important to buy from brands whose ethical position to life reflects yours. Where possible buy from brands that have a consistent track records within the ethical industry as unfortunately some brands are using the words ‘ethical’ and ‘environmental’ as buzz words and tag lines to sell and promote their products.
Supporting small and local businesses is another great way to ethically shop. At the moment huge brands with massive marketing machines are crippling small businesses and have contributed to the demise of our high streets. Supporting small and local businesses is another great way to shop more consciously with in your direct community.