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Self-care can start with brightly patterned loungewear made in Africa

Two woman talking about self care while wearing brightly coloured loungewear designed and made in Africa. d loungewear designed and maede

Self-care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, And that’s as it should be. Because self-care for moms may not be the same as self-care for a struggling student, the over-scheduled (female!) entrepreneur, or the new retiree simply looking for comfy nap loungewear. That’s especially true in these times, when so many people face so many challenges, both in their day-to-day lives and in a larger global context. The world can be a tough place, and we all need a break from it sometimes.

Woman at the beach practicing self-care in colourful loungewear made and designed in Africa,
Made to measure garments means less waste.

For Linda Khumbanyiwa, a wellness approach that addresses body, mind, and spirit is rooted in connections to nature, a balanced lifestyle, and healthy doses of self- forgiveness and acceptance. As the founder and creative director of Lynne Kayenne Studio, a Malawian female-led fashion enterprise, it’s also a vibration that runs through her collection of ethical, contemporary loungewear, which reflects Malawian heritage, culture and craftsmanship.

Pieces are hand made in Lilongwe, where regional textile artists and local sewers are paid fairly, treated with respect, and offered a safe and supportive work environment. The goal, suggests Khumbanyiwa, is to build opportunities-and stronger communities-by sharing African spirit, values and essence.

We want women to feel their most authentic, beautiful, happiest and powerful in our vibrant, comfortable loungewear pieces.”

Linda Khumbanyiwa

The  SS22 loungewear collection was designed to encourage women to pause in an increasingly hectic environment, and to embrace self-care as an essential part of their daily practice. Hence, the relaxed cuts and spacious fitting of these pieces, which are balanced by clean lines that telegraph casual chic.

The design world is taking notice. Last year, Linda Khumbanyiwa was the subject of a CNN Style feature that focused on her 2021 collection called “Earth from Space”, which was inspired by her deep interest in the cosmos. She had also, she explains, been binge-watching space-related films and documentaries at the time, including Hidden Figures, which tells the story of the Black female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race.

The idea, she told CNN, was to use colours like those seen in images of the planet taken from almost impossible-to-imagine distances. “What moved me the most were the shots of what the Earth looked like from space. I was mesmerized by its beauty … the blue and yellow hues,” she explained.

Young woman in bright print loungewear made in Africa
Traditional cotton textiles known as chitenge—often printed with exuberant patterns and sunshiny colours—are locally sourced.

As with many businesses, the Covid pandemic has created a rise in internet customers. And while online shopping is still an emerging trend in Malawi, the studio attracts customers from Kenya, the United States, Europe, and Australia. There’s also a least one customer from Canada—me!

I found Lynne Kayenne on SM, and was so struck by the vibrant colours, the fabulous prints, and the designs, which I saw as a wonderful balance of classic and contemporary influences. One thing led to another, and I found myself deciding that I deserved a little self-care in the form of gorgeous loungewear. BTW, the Insta feed is a visual treat.

The process was surprisingly easy—I chose a red-toned pattern, picked the garment style I wanted, and forwarded my measurements to the studio. Before long, I had a custom-made top at my door.

I was stunned by its beauty. When I first touched the fabric, it seemed densely-woven, a sure sign of its durability. In fact, it looked so sturdy that I was worried it would be hot. Not a chance. Hand picked from local markers in Malawi, which reduces carbon footprint and supports the local economy, it’s deliciously breathable. On chilly evenings, I throw a tank top underneath.

The finishing and details are superb, from fine stitching to fastidious covered buttons, which one of my girlfriends literally squealed at, alarming the people next to us on a patio. Every single time I wear it, I get a compliment.

I wear it out with a slim pair of leggings, and hang out in at home when I want to relax, feel good, and indulge in a little self-care. For that reason, my only regret is that I did not also buy loose fitting boxer shorts in the same fabric.

The website advises hand-washing and hanging dry, instructions I didn’t see until after I’d washed the item in cold water on a gentle cycle in the machine. Then I hung it to dry. It looked perfect.

I created LKS in the midst of a pandemic after a friend shared with me that Malawi is only known for its associations with poverty and Madonna.

Linda Khumbanyiwa

Khumbanyiwa hopes to combine her former experience as a model, stylist. and blogger with her passion for fashion to create a brand that celebrates Malawi’s cultural heritage while offering comfortable, stylish loungewear to women across the globe. I for one, will be watching, while I hang out in my shirt. In my best moments I look at it and remind myself that just like me-and you-it’s beautiful both on the surface and way deep down.

Take care of yourselves, my lovelies, and remember that a little self-care can go a long way. And that you deserve it.

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