Maasai jewellery by ALAMA
By BEL JACOBS
Jewellery is a mainstay of fairly traded goods but some of it can look a little, well, homespun. ALAMA is a Maasai jewellery brand that makes a virtue out of that rawness to create handcrafted statement neckpieces, bracelets, arm cuffs, earrings and traditional head pieces that carry the full force of their tribal beauty into contemporary, urbanised environments.
Behind this jewellery is a team of skilled women artisans, united by their will to promote the legacy of the Maasai tribe of Tanzania, shown here in a series of powerful portraits by Sarah Steiger. In Steiger's images, each artisan wears his or her own designs. Each piece is delivered with a card of the Maasai artisan who made it.
Committed to both cultural heritage and sustainability, the collection focuses on the unique and the handmade, eschewing the brutal round of seasonal offerings for pieces that will last a lifetime.
Ethical credentials are strong and proud: using tools adapted to the requirements of the luxury industry, artisans work only with locally sourced leather, as well as recycled plastic and glass beads from local markets. The co-operative conducts a zero waste policy.
Each artisan is continuously supported with a higher revenue generated through the purchase of their jewelry by the brand. Finally, all sales revenue is re-invested back into the Maasai community, through the programs of Africa Amini Alama, a charity which improves the living conditions of the Maasai and Meru tribes of Northern Tanzania by providing them with free health care and social help, as well as free educational programs. In addition, the NGO invests into GMO-free agricultural production and sustainable tourism projects managed by the Maasai themselves.
The sustainable, fairtrade jewellery brand has already made friends in high places. Following the first collaboration for the men's SS2017 season, ALAMA is collaborating once again for women's wear with Paris-based streetwear label Faith Connexion, which counts Kanye West and Beyonce amongst its fans.
PICTURES BY SARAH STAIGER