The Story Of Chinakwe
Thank you for taking a moment and looking at the brand new CHINAKWE blog. We are excited to launch a new side of the brand called “Chinakwe Chats”. Our blog will be a space of discovery, information and debates. Here we will bring you things that we at Chinakwe love. This will include following us and other startups on our business journey. Discover new trends with us, find out about brands we’re collaborating with or would love to collaborate with. We will also keep you posted, of course, on all things Chinakwe, from our upcoming events to new collections dropping. On this blog we want to share our passion for the world of art, fashion and lifestyle, taking a look at what we currently love and inspires us. To start the journey of “Chinakwe Chats” we wanted to launch with the beginning of CHINAKWE.
“I create art that will challenge the mainstream, igniting an understanding and appreciation for black culture, style and beauty. As equal to the western ideology of beauty, and to help forge a stronger pan-continent relationship between fashion and art”.
CHINAKWE is a brand formed by artist and designer Caroline Chinakwe, originating from her desire to blend her biggest passion – art with her first love, fashion.
After graduating from London College of Fashion and working in the industry for 20 years a change was needed. Caroline felt the urge to challenge the ideals of beauty and womanhood she lived side by side with during her career, and at the same time express what real beauty is for her.
Appalled by the white beauty and rigid stereotypes experienced whilst working as a stylist and designer, she was disheartened by the way black models are treated and the boxes they’re put in. Caroline understood she had to take action first to spark a change. The idea for a more colourful and transparent future came alive in the form of the brand CHINAKWE.
Caroline didn’t want her art to be purely self-expression, but an inspiration for the present and future generations to realise that change is possible. To see change occur we first should be the change we want to see.
As a self-taught artist, she started putting together her art pieces using a combination of various artistic mediums including photography, acrylic painted details and digital collaging.
In 2019, Caroline started sharing her artworks on social media and the overwhelming response inspired her to launch her first collection “This Is Me” in 2020. The brand CHINAKWE was officially born. A brand with a story and message. The artist poured her heart into this collection, all her resentment and frustration towards the industry that homed her for years. The way black models were treated, either as a token for contrast or forced to look like white models, felt stifling and disrespectful.
Through this collection, the mission of CHINAKWE became clear: promote the positive representation of a spectrum of melanated individuals. Each new piece aims to empower, awaken your thoughts, inspire and fall in love with the vibrant and colourful rebellion against what someone else decided is “the norm”.
In the second collection “Colourism”, the mission was particularly present and ignited by the very painful subject matter. This phenomenon is the discrimination of people belonging to the same ethnic group because of their darker (or lighter) skin tone. It is a more damaging form of racism as it happens inside the community you should feel safe in. Caroline has touched on experiencing this differential treatment for being a lighter shade of black as a child when her mother would refer to her as the “light-skinned child” compared to her sister. As an artist, she felt inspired and a sense of responsibility to produce work that highlighted race, colour and acceptance.
Following the success of her art series, Caroline found there was a lack of products that embody African culture and history in a cool, classy, yet bold way, interlinked with Western-style. This pushed CHINAKWE to not solely be an art brand, but an Afro-Lux advocate. The launch of our first homeware and fashion collection in April featured luxury soft furnishings, reupholstered vintage chairs, silk scarves and loungewear with prints from the ““Colourism” collection. CHINAKWE wants to allow a strong and revolutionary message to softly enter everyday life until skin colour won’t need to be mentioned anymore. We will all be regarded as we are - people.
Are you ready to be part of the change?
Read more about Caroline Chinakwe: