African lifestyle brand, Indigenous House, have teamed up with sustainable graduation gown supplier, Churchill Gowns, to offer UK students a unique piece of African heritage to wear at their graduation ceremonies. The traditional kente cloth graduation stoles are commonly seen at graduation ceremonies and hanging proudly on bedroom walls across Africa and in the United States, however they have been less prevalent at UK ceremonies… until now!
Ruth Nicholls, Director of Operations at Churchill Gowns, explained why the gowning company was eager to encourage the wearing of the stoles at UK ceremonies:
“The wearing of academic dress at graduation, whether that be a cap and gown or a kente stole, is an important honouring of a centuries old tradition. For many students the kente cloth stole is an important part of their heritage and, by wearing one to graduation alongside their gown, they are honouring their own roots as well as the traditions of their universities.”
The kente fabric is a prestigious handmade cloth that originally comes from the Ashanti Kingdom of Ghana in the early 17th century. It is now largely used by Africans and people from different cultures from all over the world due to its rich cultural attributes.
Every stole that Indigenous House manufactures is hand woven by local craftsmen in Ghana and can be customised with the initials, university and year of graduation for each student.
Speaking of the reasons for the partnership with Indigenous House, Ruth says:
“We were especially eager for Indigenous House to supply the stoles to our customers because they are a brand that truly reflect our own values. Churchill Gowns prides itself on being a company that makes every effort to offer products that are ethically produced and sustainable. When we first met with Indigenous House we realised these were values they share and we were really impressed with the work they have done to offer employment to craftsmen in Ghana and help to keep the traditional weaving methods alive.”
Emmanuel Lamptey, founder and CEO of Indigenous House agrees, adding:
Churchill Gowns have been very receptive of the idea of promoting diversity and inclusion in universities. This perfectly ties into our goals at Indigenous House and we feel that partnering with one of the leading graduation suppliers in the UK is one of the ways by which we can achieve this.
Universities in the UK are under increasing pressure to make students from all backgrounds feel welcome and included, especially in the wake of student-led campaigns such as ‘Rhodes Must Fall’.
Indigenous House and Churchill Gowns are hopeful that graduates of all backgrounds will embrace the wearing of kente stoles alongside their academic dress as a symbol that a world class education should embrace different perspectives, histories and cultures from across the globe.
The indigenous House kente cloth graduation stoles are available to purchase via the Churchill Gowns website (www.churchillgowns.com/gb) and are priced between £25 and £40, depending on customisation.
About Indigenous House
Indigenous House is a lifestyle brand that was created by Emmanuel Lamptey, a Ghanaian creative, to promote African culture across and beyond the borders of the continent. He had the idea in 2012 and initially specialised in ties, pocket squares, bow ties, waist sashes and graduation stoles all made with kente cloth sourced directly from local kente weavers in Ghana.
Being a big lover of art and craft, he gathered ideas and inspiration from things of African origin. The brand seeks to collaborate with people of African descent that want to share indigenous experiences.
About Churchill Gowns
Founded in the UK in 2018 by young entrepreneurs Oliver Adkins and Ruth Nicholls, Churchill Gowns manufactures and sells graduation attire to students, colleges and universities across the UK. They are seeking to disrupt the antiquated graduation market by offering students a more sustainable, affordable and convenient service. To date Churchill Gowns have supplied graduation attire to over 2,000 students across 35 UK universities and have also sold directly to institutions including the University of Cambridge and Trinity College at the University of Oxford. Most recently they were featured on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den and accepted an offer of funding from high profile business investor Deborah Meaden.
Each gown Churchill Gowns manufactures is made entirely out of recycled plastic, creating something practical out of waste which would otherwise have ended up in landfill or the ocean. To date they have repurposed the equivalent of over 53,000 plastic bottles into gowns.