Couture With Conscience
Ethiopian fashion designer Hiwot Gashaw changes lives through high style.
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.
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.