by Stephen Garner

American ApparelLA-based retailer American Apparel has collaborated with West African artisans for the creation of a limited edition T-shirt collection to benefit local artisans in Sierra Leone. The shirts will be available at 50 U.S. American Apparel locations as well its global online store. The company will donate 50 percent of the proceeds of the sales to the artisans who dedicated their time and talent to its design.

Haunted by a decade-long civil war and the Ebola virus, New York-based artist Massah KaiKai sought to capture a more expressive, intimate portrayal of her family’s homeland through a creative partnership with the company. Within months, thousands of American Apparel t-shirts were shipped to Sierra Leone (with the help from Brussels Airlines), a group of local artisans were recruited, and a limited edition collection of t-shirts was created.

American Apparel

“Sierra Leone has faced some obstacles, but it’s such a vibrant country where opportunity is possible for people with ideas and passion,” said KaiKai. “I hope Sierra Leoneans are inspired by what we’ve done in partnership with American Apparel to showcase this talented community.”

“American Apparel has always been a strong advocate for fair wages,” added American Apparel director of co-branding and philanthropy Henry Szymanski. “Hopefully this project will be one small step toward paving the way for a world filled with equal opportunity.”