We work with an elder generation of basket weavers in Sicily who produces our Sicilian baskets, as well as a family-owned leather production studio in Grappa.
The Sicilian basket, or coffa, is the ancient straw basket used by peasants to feed their horses and donkeys. The original coffa Siciliana is made of palma nana, Sicilian dwarf palm straw, which is an indigenous straw found only in the mountains of Sicily. Muzungu Sisters' Sicilian baskets are still made in the same ancient tradition today; an elderly gentleman (a basket weaver near Palermo) heads to the mountains to collect the palma nana straw and then weaves the baskets by hand for us. The baskets then travel to the east coast of Sicily where they are adorned with pompoms and mirrors in the ancient Sicilian tradition. The adornments are sewed on, stitch by stitch – never glued on as you will find with other baskets.
Sadly, since we started ordering Sicilian baskets in 2011, one of the basket-weavers passed away, highlighting the fact that this traditional art form needs to be cherished and valued. There are less than a handful or artisans in Sicily who still produce these baskets in the traditional manner.
Venetian slippers, or ‘friulane’ were traditional worn by countrymen in the Friuli countryside post World War II, and then appropriated by gondoliers in Venice who chose to wear them so as not to ruin the paint of their precious gondolas.
Our suede, Mongolian fur Bibi and Joon coats are designed by us in our London studio and intricately crafted by a family-owned leather production studio in Bassano del Grappa, Italy. This artisan group have been producing the highest quality suede and Mongolian fur items for the past forty years. The coats feature Muzungu Sisters' own designs as printed linings and Bakhtiari embroidery motifs on the suede.
The Mongolian sheep fur is fully biodegradable by-product of the food industry and comes from Mongolian sheep farmed in a small herd in Inner Mongolia. The sheep roam free every day, grazing upon miles of mountainous grassy hills. Eventually the animals are used for the local meat industry, and their wool is use to make warm winter coats such as those that Mongolians and the people of the Caucasus have been wearing for thousands of years. The goat sueded used for the coats is ethically sourced in Chennai, India, and is also biodegradable.
Find out more about the Wayuu tribe, the Arhuaca tribe, the Kankuamo tribe and the Kamëntsá tribe. Each of these tribes produce beautiful handwoven mochilas for us.