Hand-rolled, recycled paper is the material of choice for a new glasses chain collection created by global eyewear chain and accessories brand Coti Vision in collaboration with the Nigerian company Ilekeco.
Ilekeco transforms waste materials into valuable wearable art including earrings, necklaces, bracelets. Its name came from “ileke,” a native Nigerian word which literally means bead, and defines something of great value.
It’s the sustainable fashion element and the ability to contribute to women in Nigeria that has made this project so important for us
Ilekeco founder and designer, Anthony Uche Nsofor, has been fond of making things out of paper since he was a child. Having completed a degree in chemical engineering and taken charge of the family glass bead import business, his passion for creative work was rekindled when he chanced upon an article about paper jewellery. This made him think about the paper creations he made during his childhood from garbage including parking tickets, grocery receipts, and random paper products, and how he could convert them into something useful.
Now Anthony wants to use his works to awaken the interest in recycling waste across Africa, especially his country where recycling barely exists. Lagos state, Nigeria’s biggest commercial city, has a population of 20 million people and generates well over 10,000 metric tons of waste every day. Paper, of course, makes up a substantial part of it. Unfortunately, most of it gets burned, contributing to air pollution.
Each bead in the glasses chains being created by Ilekeco is hand rolled and hand painted, with no two beads ever being the same. A single chain uses approximately 3,000 strips of hand rolled recycled paper.
Coti’s co-founders, Julie Hawkins and Nancy Gries, are excited about the project, which will also provide an opportunity to contribute to a dedicated relief fund established to improve the livelihood of the women involved.
“We have partnered with Ilekeco because of their passion to create something completely fashionable out of everyday waste,” they said. “It has been an opportunity to create a relationship with a new supplier, from a really unassuming country, and for them to take our ideas and combine it with their native art to create the most fabulous glasses chains which are absolutely unique and full of character.
“It’s the sustainable fashion element and the ability to contribute to women in Nigeria that has made this project so important for us”.
Ilekeco owner Anthony added, “We are grateful to Coti for the opportunity to change people’s perception of waste by upcycling. Making art from waste is our way of solving environmental problems. With such efforts, more consumers will become aware of what’s happening, and this will make them rethink about the waste that has been generated through fast fashion.”
The Ikekco chain is available in four colours, with each colour given an African name that is plant based: Dika/green (African wild mango) Green, Ako /Red (a berry that is peppery and known for its medicinal properties), Ixia/Blue (an African corn lily plant with light blue flowers), and Eso for the mixed colour model (a native Nigerian language for a variety of fruits).