The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have begun their tour in Africa, starting the 10-day trip with baby Archie in Cape Town. The royal family’s first stop was the Nyanga township a few miles out of the city center to learn about the work of humans rights organization The Justice Desk. They were greeted by dancers, musicians, and crowds of cheering children, and even though Meghan Markle was wearing monochrome, the pattern of her dress was just as joyful as the celebratory atmosphere.
The black and white wrap dress, featuring a DNA pattern, is the ‘Dalitso’ dress from Mayamiko. Surprisingly affordable at only AED 315, this is certainly one of the more reasonably priced garments in Markle’s wardrobe. What’s unsurprising is that it has already sold out.
As an outfit, it ticks all of her boxes: relaxed and chic, a muted color palette jazzed up by an interesting pattern, a super flattering wrap style, and capped sleeves for modesty. It’s no coincidence that the duchess chose to wear Mayamiko for her first outfit on a highly scrutinized royal tour. All of the brand’s clothes are handmade in Malawi – a country included on the royal trip itinerary, although Prince Harry will be visiting there on his own. Markle often chose outfits that paid tribute to wherever she was visiting during the last royal tour, and it would seem like this dress is her sartorial nod to the continent of Africa.
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This week we kept our Instagram quiet for lots of reasons. @xr.boycottfashion by @extinctionrebellion gave our industry plenty to think about, with voices like @safia_minney and @becky_earley joining the conversation around @londonfashionweek and the current models of consumption. Truth be told, for a brand this is always a conflicted conversation: we do need to sell to keep going, to provide jobs and change lives. But we have a responsibility to do so in a way that not only respects but also actively protects our planet and all living creatures on it. It is clear the current models of consumption are leading to destruction. We have from the very beginning refused to adhere to those. No huge mark ups and reductions, no seasons, no overproduction, only buy what you love because #lovedclotheslast , people and planet at the heart… Still, we will be taking more time for a bigger rethink, so you might see things slowing down at our end for a while. It’s all good and part of the growth process, and we hope more people & brands will be going through similar reflections at this climate emergency time. In the meantime, if you are able, consider joining a Climate Strike near you, in person or digitally, all info on @gretathunberg and @fridaysforfuture
Mayamiko’s website says: “Our collections are cross-seasonal and are inspired by African artisanal traditions and prints, with ethical trading and sustainability at our core. Our collections are designed for the global modern woman, while giving ode to their birthplace through the use of traditional African techniques and local printed fabrics, locally referred to as Chitenje.”
Ethical and sustainable production is at the heart of Mayamiko’s clothing – values that Markle also holds dear. The company has a zero-waste policy, uses solar power to run its workshop in Malawi, and sources material locally to reduce its carbon footprint. The duchess is also well known for her philanthropy, and the brand works in partnership with Mayamiko Trust, which “aims to help the most disadvantaged people in Malawi by nurturing their creative talents and turning them in to sustainable activities that could be transferable to trade practices”. The charity helps produce reusable sanitary kits part-made by scrap fabric from the Mayamiko workshop in a bid to prevent girls from missing school due to their period.
Furthermore, if Markle was interested, she could scan the QR code on the label of her dress to find out who made her clothes. More and more ethically minded brands are incorporating this into their designs to create accountability and complete transparency in the fashion supply chain.
With Extinction Rebellion protesting the environmental impact of the industry at London Fashion Week, and more people campaigning for better treatment of garment workers, it feels particularly appropriate for the Duchess of Sussex to wear a brand like Mayamiko. This is just day one of the royal tour, and we’re sure that she will make many more meaningful fashion decisions before the trip is up. Another thing we’re certain of? She’ll wear espadrilles again – Markle just can’t get enough of them.