Inspired by the countless forms of communication used by migrants to stay in touch with loved ones in the motherland, LABRUM’s Autumn/Winter 2023 ‘From Greener Pastures’ pays homage to families divided by borders and oceans, yet united through correspondence.
The collection explores the harsh realities of family separation in search of a better life in an alien land. Derived from Creative Director Foday Dumbuya’s own experience of migration as a child, travelling from Sierra Leone to London via Cyprus, and taking cues from SS23 Freedom of Movement, this notion of crossing borders to reach pastures new is poignantly symbolised through the use of genuine travel documents and passports.
The travel documentation referenced throughout represents the barriers preventing freedom of movement by migrants when searching for life in a new land.
When families leave West Africa for Europe or North America, the cost of travel limits those who can make the initial trip. Often, a parent will leave the family to travel ahead, sending money back home with each paycheck. On other occasions, siblings are separated, as parents are forced to make unthinkable decisions as to who should make the journey, and who should be left behind. Vast distances take its toll emotionally on both travellers and those remaining, connection to one another is a vital element in survival.
Taking inspiration from Samuel Selvon’s 1956 novel ‘The Lonely Londoners’ and ‘An African in Imperial London’ by Danell Jones, which explore the trials and tribulations of assimilation as a Black migrant into English society, ’From Greener Pastures’ explores the juxtaposition between dream and reality that comes with migration. The expectation of arriving in a prosperous and welcoming new environment, compared to the loneliness and isolation often felt. It is here that strong family connection is imperative.
LABRUM looks to celebrate the land in which migrants settle and the traditions — like their style of dress — that they bring with them. In contrast to the vibrancy of previous seasons, AW23 ‘From Greener Pastures’ features muted tones. Shades of brown and olive green evoke nostalgic recollections — sights and smells — of soil left behind in search of prosperity in a foreign place.
These memories are not to be forgotten and live on in generations to come. As Maya Angelou once said, ‘You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.’ In tribute, a trench coat featuring a compelling photomontage print of passport stamps has been named after her.
The collection also introduces LABRUM’s first ever varsity jacket which has the signature Nomoli character on the back and can be customised with badging.
LABRUM has worked with Masha Guyard to create the quilted pieces seen as part of a community project called “Each One, Stich One”. Masha likes to work fluidly and free from restrictions, letting fabrics guide her technique and design. The resulting garments are one of a kind and will stand the test of time.
This season LABRUM brings you to Brixton Village to breathe life into AW23 with an immersive physical showcase. As one of London’s most renowned community lead locations, it was the perfect partner to display LABRUM’s design vision, bringing music and strong cultural identity to London Fashion Week.
Multidisciplinary Creative, Julianknxx’s ambition for ‘From Greener Pastures’ was to unite the show and the market itself. “Creating this show in Brixton specifically is a way for LABRUM to celebrate the multiplicity of Blackness and the way(s) we’ve come to this country. The show draws from the different types of people that you will see walking around in Brixton–from the locals, the entrepreneurs in the markets and shops, to the various artistic expressions you encounter in the street. Although much has changed, Brixton is still a beautiful tapestry of street art, fashion, and music.
The music in the show draws upon our diasporic identities, with poetry and contemporary dance. The show also includes local business men and women that work in Brixton. Many of their experiences echo those of our own families in the diaspora that migrated to London for new opportunities. Their story is ours and ours is theirs.”
Award winning artist Yinka Ilori has provided set design, “I wanted to bring the idea of borders to life. Taking inspiration from the collection and Foday’s use of textures and materials, I created a series of modular arches which are clad in bubble wrap – a reference to one of the pieces in the collection - and will act as seating for the show. The structures mimic and represent borders and the idea of exit and entry points.
I want the audience to feel a sense of joy and celebration. Brixton Village has a large migrant population from so many different countries Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, etc. They’re the fabric of the place. Immigrants play a huge part in this country. I want to celebrate their parents and families and for them to look back at the past as well as look towards the future.”
Headwear designer Lucy Barlow has created raffia hats which double as drawstring bags, adding elevated accessories in compliment to the collection.
“With AW23 we wanted to showcase how the dialogue between new and old homes shape families as they are reunited, and how they combine both African and British cultures in their new environment, preserving traditions from the motherland for generations to come,” said Foday Dumbuya, Creative Director and Founder.
Go to our Collections page to view the full looks.
As one of London’s most diverse and vibrant markets, Brixton Village is a thriving destination for shopping, eating and cultural events that has been built on the unique character of the neighbourhood and its rich cultural heritage. Located on either side of Atlantic Road and a short walk from Brixton Station, the covered markets (Brixton Village and Market Row) have come together under one umbrella to be collectively known as Brixton Village. Cherished by the community for their rich social and cultural history, the markets were saved from destruction in 2009 by a passionate campaign led by local activists, councillors, MPs, and English Heritage. Hondo Enterprises became the custodians of Brixton Village and Market Row in 2018 and under their stewardship will preserve and promote their unique character for the long-term.
Design & Creative Direction: @iamfods
Creative consultant: @ibkamara
Art Direction: @julianknxx
Set Design: @yinka_ilori
Styling: Felix Paradza & @makanak_a
Casting: @iamjonjohnson @jonjohnsonstudios
Performance: Musicians from @balimayaproject
Music & score: @music4architecture
Dance: @tyroneisaacstuart @moses.m.o.ward
Footwear: @drmartensofficial @adidaslondon
PR & Comms: @purplepr
LABRUM Team: @abisolaakanni @dami_tlo @homegirlane @lozettastone @tuzice @yuanhau
Interns: @nadine.mariella & everyone involved
Photography: @kasia__rucinska @andrzejspostservice
A special thank you to @brixton.village 🤝🏿