Poncho power: handmade knits funding maternity care in Africa

Lemlem gives five per cent of profits to Liya Kebede Foundation

Oversized striped merino-wool hooded poncho ($345)
Oversized striped merino-wool hooded poncho ($345)

For Ethiopian-born supermodel Liya Kebede, it was a visit to her native country in 2005 as an ambassador for the World Health Organization that made her decide to try to do something about the state of maternal health and the high infant mortality rate in Africa. She launched the Liya Kebede Foundation, which provides maternity care in under-served rural communities (in the past five years it has helped more than 10,000 mothers to give birth safely). Two years later Kebede launched Lemlem, a range of clothing handmade by weavers in Ethiopia, from which five per cent of the proceeds go to her nonprofit. Highlights from this year’s autumn-winter collection include an oversized navy striped merino-wool hooded poncho ($345) that finishes on the knee, and a waist-skimming grey knitted alpaca crewneck sweater ($325) with motifs inspired by traditional Malian mud-cloths.

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