Continent Clothing: African colours, Gambian Tailors, International Style

Continent Clothing is a clothing brand found in the Gambia by Mr Lucas Barrow-Townsend. He started coming to Africa when he was a young boy, and he fell in love with the tropics, the sun and the sea. While coming here, he felt that he wanted to do something for the people of The Gambia. He first went to study African development and began his journey.

The story of Continent Clothing started with a pair of trousers which he described as colourful and ridiculously comfy. He would wear them to University, parties, slopping out, on the beach, at the park, and his friends loved the colourful African piece.

Whenever he came to The Gambia, he would get orders from friends asking him to bring along the African trousers or jackets, and they would pay for it. This process became a natural fit for what he wanted to do. So when he thought about it, he decided to create employment for Gambians, from fabric merchants to tailors, models and photographers. He came up with the idea of this clothing brand ˝Continent Clothing˝.

Continent Clothing is not only about showcasing wonderful and beautiful African clothing. The idea behind the brand is much bigger. Feeding a family is a constant worry for many, and almost 90% of the Gambian population lives ˝from hand to mouth˝. So Continent Clothing aims to provide full time and sustainable employment for as many people as possible in The Gambia. They do development programs for their workers, equipping them with skills and supporting them in their journey to financial independence.

Continent Clothing is all about western style in colourful African fabrics. They relay the urban African prints and give back to their people at the same time. Their designs are made in the Gambia, shown and distributed all over the world.

They are working with nine tailoring workshops with over 45 employees. They buy thousands of meters of fabrics from Gambian fabric merchants; they also work with a few Gambian photographers, like Bitz photography; they work with other Gambian fashion designers and models. They are providing employment for locals in many areas.

One can see the development Continent Clothing has brought to the community of most of their workers, especially the tailors. Some have extended their shops, some bought cars, and their children are going to school.

Like any other story, Continent Clothing has had its share of challenges. Mr Townsend described some of them as ˝a bloody nightmare˝. It was difficult for Gambian tailors to adapt to styles different from those they used to sew. It was a whole new thing to them, and they had no idea. Many samplings and trashing were made before they got used to it. ˝But this is what Continent Clothing does. We improve our workers, and they get better˝. He said.

Some of the tailors have been working with Continent Clothing for over eight years, and some joined the tribe only recently.

They have their online shop where you can choose from their wide range of colourful clothing and it can be delivered to you almost in every part of the world. They have many customers in countries like France, China, UK, and they also want to reach one of the biggest market opportunities, the USA.

Continent Clothing’s vision in the next five years is to crack the American and European market. This will also provide more extensive employment for the local community because the bigger the orders, the more fabrics needed, the more tailors needed.

When asked about his message to the world, he simply replied: ˝Keep it colourful˝.

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