The Magazine of Ethiopian Airlines
Style + Substance

Couture With Conscience

Ethiopian fashion designer Hiwot Gashaw changes lives through high style.

Fashion-model-turned-designer Hiwot Gashaw puts her own spin on traditional Ethiopian clothing, playing with bright colors and even hand-embroidering pieces of her collection.
COURTESY OF HIWOT GASHAW

Since launching her own custom-made clothing brand at age 22, former model Hiwot Gashaw has dreamed of creating more than just style. Her brand’s name — Abugida — means learning something new, and Gashaw’s ideas about fashion certainly capture that innovative spirit.

COURTESY OF HIWOT GASHAW

A native to Addis Ababa, Gashaw fuses various styles in her work, spinning up everything from Ethiopia-inspired dresses to more Western-style mens jackets. For each, she weaves together cultural materials and practices — embroidering ornate patterns on a traditional wool dress, for example, by hand.

But perhaps most impressive is Gashaw’s attentiveness to the community around her. Her company employs six full-time workers in the Addis area — women who once lived on the streets but now, having been trained by Gashaw, are able to support themselves. And that approach — turning a company into a force for good — never goes out of style.

Hiwot Gashaw’s latest designs will take to the runway during Addis Fashion Week 2015, the fourth edition of the event sponsored by Hub of Africa Fashion Show. The show will run from Oct. 21 to 23 at Addis Ababa’s Millenium Hall, exposing Ethiopia’s best designers to fashion-industry leaders from Africa, Europe and America.