Interview: Daughter of the Moon
Sadie Burton | On 07, Jun 2017
Meet the gun new designer with a purpose. This week The Creative Issue caught up with Ladan Ocora, designer of new label â€˜Daughter of the Moonâ€™, to delve into all things sustainable and colourful.
Ladan will debut her first collection at the Ekka Natural Fibres Parades alongside fellow designers seeking to bring audiences â€˜Back to Natureâ€™. You can find all the details by visiting the official Ekka website here.
Daughter of the Moon is so much more than just a fashion label; itâ€™s a social venture with spirit and vigour, and an aesthetic to match!
TCI: So the label is called Daughter of the Moon – is there a story behind that?
Ladan Ocora: Yes there is – I designed the clothes and got them made in Uganda. Itâ€™s a social enterprise and it is a for-profit business but the whole purpose of the business is to get women in northern Uganda whoâ€™ve been impacted by the civil war there employed. One of the historical features in Northern Uganda is a fort area where slave trading took place hundreds of years ago. There was a British man, Sir Samuel Baker, who helped free a lot of the slaves. His wife was considered extremely beautiful and was really well known in the area and they gave her the name â€˜Daughter of the Moonâ€™. So thatâ€™s why I picked that name because it had a real connection to the area and that whole idea of freedom.
TCI: So how did you get involved with that, whatâ€™s your connection to Uganda?
LO: Iâ€™m married to a Ugandan – he was born in Uganda, grew up in Switzerland and we have a lot of family who live over there. Iâ€™ve travelled to the country several times. It’s a developing country, thereâ€™s a lot of struggle, itâ€™s a very difficult place to live, and Iâ€™ve always thought charity is all well and good but I really believe if you give people work to do, their lives can improve dramatically. Thereâ€™s a lot of good things going on, there are actually a few different social enterprises out of the US connecting with Uganda. And I loved the materials, theyâ€™re so beautiful and vibrant. Every time I go shopping in Brisbane itâ€™s all black and white and grey and thereâ€™s not a lot of colour and working in a corporate environment, Iâ€™m always wearing grey, black and white myself. The [Ugandan] materials are just so beautiful that I thought, if I can design a few pieces and bring them over, it contributes to the fashion industry here but it also helps [the Ugandan women] have a sustainable income.
TCI: Are you the sole designer of pieces or do the Ugandan women have a hand in that process?
LO: I did the designing for the first pieces, the Ugandan women contributed a little bit, they did all the actual sewing.
TCI: Where are the materials sourced?
LO: So unfortunately they donâ€™t make them anymore in Uganda, some of the materials are made in China, but some are made in other Africa countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone. Itâ€™s all cotton natural fibres.
TCI: Have you designed clothes before or is this new for you?
LO: This is completely new! Iâ€™ve always loved fashion and the industry but I guess I saw a need there and Iâ€™ve been talking to different people and just got designing.
TCI: When youâ€™re designing, do you have a target market in mind?
LO: At the moment itâ€™s just for women. Women who want to make a statement and women who have a social conscious. There is no age range, I think it can appeal to so many different women.
TCI: So you mentioned the clothes are very vibrant, do the designs reflect Ugandan culture?
LO: Yes so because of the natural fibres element to it, I thought well that fits in really well. The Ekka is trying to support the regional areas within Queensland and the connection there is that the more we are connected globally, the more I think we can benefit economically as well. I thought wouldnâ€™t it be great to start thinking about our global connections and our place in the global context.
TCI: Where do you see yourself taking the label in the future?
LO: Iâ€™d love to develop it nationally as the first step. I want to help women here to wear more colour and be bolder! Itâ€™s Australia focused for now but if thereâ€™s appeal internationally then Iâ€™ll take it to the next step. But for now itâ€™s focused on Brisbane and national.
TCI: Did you have anything to add on the ethos of the label?
LO: Yes so Iâ€™m a firm believer that if we can create enterprises and businesses â€“ and there is a market for it â€“ that can help create sustainable incomes and livelihoods, we can all win from the situation. This is just a small effort but if we can all think of different ways of how we can be more innovative around enterprise and connected with a social purpose then I think we will all benefit globally from it.
This is only the beginning for Ladan so make sure you snatch a glimpse at her pieces come the Ekka, and watch this space!