By Chere Di Boscio
What happens when LA cool meets Ghanan tradition? The answer is Della, a Los Angeles-based fashion line that is changing the way people shop. Woman-owned and run, the company works directly with a community in West Africa, providing jobs, education and skills training to its employees.
The brand was founded by iced tea addict and maker of a mean cookie, Los Angeles native Tina Tangalakis. After having studied costume design at the California Institute of the Arts, she later went on to work as a wardrobe stylist for film and TV before deciding to volunteer abroad in Ghana. It was a trip that would change her life.
Whilst in Africa, she completely fell in love with the warmth and friendliness of the people, as well as their bright, traditional textiles. She was a bit shocked by the levels of poverty she saw, however, and decided the best way to help do something about it wasn’t through charity, but action.
Then she got a brainstorm: Tina teamed up with a local entrepreneur to launch Della, a socially responsible fashion line that provides jobs, education and skills training to women and men of Hohoe. The main idea was to build a foundation for a better life through providing long-term, well paid jobs, as well as education and skills training within the community of Hohoe.
But getting the company set up and training the employees was only half the challenge–what types of designs would the company produce? How could traditional Ghanaian textiles look modern to the Western eye?
“My main influences are classic, vintage style. My love for design began when I fell in love with fashion history and how social trends reflect in how people dress,” Tina says. “Today I seek to bridge modern design with classic style, while bringing traditional Ghanaian textiles into the mix.”
Tina decided to translate Ghanaian style into the colours used in Della; the bolder prints are used for accents like handbags and shoes. In fact, the brand recently paired up with skater shoe brand Vans to apply a bit of Ghana to casual footwear. They’ve also created a capsule collection for Urban Outfitters.
The Ghanaian staff receive more than a job creating these collections; they also benefit from weekly literacy classes, money management courses (something we could use here at Eluxe!), child care, health care provision, and there’s even a volleyball league for employees.
Seems Della is focused not only on introducing African style to America, but to making their workers feel as happy as their brightly coloured prints look.
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