Finor X is a bold statement to help increase environmental awareness through art and fashion, in this case celebrating the diversity of Africa and its diaspora. Beauty brings the tradition to urban, streetwear and casual styles to create a narrative of collaboration and interconnectedness. The textiles celebrate each other’s similarities and uniqueness because fabrics are what connects us across continents. No matter your nationality, geographical location, or cultural identity – everyone is Finor. This story will demonstrate to you that we are Better Together.
We interview Patrick, founder of this brand Finor X. He shares an intense story that brings us to Sierra Leone, and how he believes that sustainable fashion has become an actionable initiative to solve climate change. Folks, don’t miss the poetry piece, and this philosophy highlighting the resiliency and perseverance of people across all communities. Hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!
Hi Patrick, would love to hear a bit more about your background and what led you to start the fashion brand Finor X?
I’ve been in the technical space as an environmental engineer for 5 years and never thought I would get into the fashion industry – but looking back the foreshadowing has always been there. I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone and left as a child left due to the civil war. First to Nairobi, Kenya in 1995 then USA 2000, my family’s location changed but we never left our African customs. Growing up the best-dressed people were not on TV or in the stores, they were in my family. Going to functions wearing matching clothing highlighting different facets of our culture, I was able to see my family express themselves through fashion. I learned fashion was a way to say who you are and where you’re from before saying a word.
After graduating from Howard University with a Chemical Engineering degree, I started working as an environmental engineer. In 2017 a mudslide happened in the Freetown and came at a time of many other environmental disasters around the world. It was tough being a Sierra Leonean working in the environmental space and not able to help directly. Observing the intersection between environmental issues and problems in communities of color, Finor X was created as a solution to help increase environmental awareness through art and fashion. I saw the parallels of the engineering process in finding ways to create a sustainable and ethical brand in a space where the majority of producers are not eco-friendly. Traveling back to Sierra Leone, I would shop in the local markets, and work with tailors to design clothes and create a hands-on experience of the fashion production lifecycle. I then began to think about how I could scale the process into an international brand. In February 2019, I launched Finor X to showcase the beauty, skills, and culture on the African continent and its diaspora.
What is the mission of the brand, what’s the type of positive change you are seeking to create?
Better Together. By highlighting the global displacement of African people and the unique fabric that connects us across continents, we are able to showcase the interconnectedness within our shared experiences through clothing and art. Through our eco-conscious initiatives, we want to highlight the resiliency and perseverance of our people and our belief that solving climate change begins with actionable initiatives like eco-friendly clothing.
We are very curious about the naming of the brand Finor X – what does it mean?
Finor – means “fine, beautiful,” in the Temne language spoken by the Temne tribe in Sierra Leone. No matter your nationality, geographical location, or cultural identity – everyone is Finor.
X – The ‘X’, as it did for Malcolm X, symbolizes the diverse and unknown ancestry of many in the Black Diaspora. The X also represents the cancellation of the myths, spells or insinuations that are used to divide us.
There is beautiful poetry around your symbol, butterflies. Could you please share it with us all?
I’ve never seen an ugly butterfly
Grounded as a caterpillar, that’s only the start
Trapped in a cacoon, when the freedom part?
Finding light in the darkness, that’s in our DNA
Put in the work to be a butterfly one day
Wings to fly high so constantly going
Started in the dirt but that’s no reason to cry
Everything is already inside you to fly
What type of styles can we find within your urban fashion range?
Our fashion range is contemporary to traditional and everything in between. Finor X aims to highlight the beauty in all styles from streetwear, casual dress to formal and traditional items. We also like to blend styles to create unique looks of our own. For example, our Bai Bureh Ronko vest takes traditional Country Cloth to make a vest that can be dressed up or down in any setting and season.
Why did you decide to create African inspired garments and accessories?
It was a direct way to impact environmental and social issues in my community. Providing ethical and sustainable clothing and accessories that were tailor-made for people of color helped fill a gap I saw in the sustainable space. A lot of the practices to make traditional African fabrics like Mud Cloth, Country Cloth, Leppi, and Kente are dying out because of the rise of Dutch Wax and Ankara markets. These fabrics (Dutch Wax, Ankara) are usually identified as traditionally African but usually aren’t made on the continent and damage the environment by using high amounts of toxic chemicals and water-intensive practices. The popularity of Ankara/Dutch Wax prints has drowned out the market for traditional African fabrics. Finor X was a way to celebrate traditional practices with audiences that may not have encountered them in the way we’re introducing them.
Could you please share with us your creative process from the idea to the final garment or jewelry and what eco-materials do you use?
Drawing inspiration from nature, history and interactions in my community helps the creative process. I’ve learned art has a lot to do with healing. Art has been responsible for shaping society from the shape of the pyramids to the architecture of the Roman cathedrals. It’s a way we tell our stories and pass down our memory.
In the fashion space, African textiles like Kente’s colors or patterns on Bogolan (mud cloth) tell a story of memory and connection to a source. We call ourselves Eco-conscious because we want to incorporate as many environmentally conscious methods in out items like organic cotton, upcycled clothing, recycled metals and recycled polyester as well as other sustainable fibres.
Where do you produce your range of urban fashion and jewelry? Basically: Who Made your clothes?
All tailored work and custom jewelry is handmade in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Our logo t-shirt is made in Haiti and our recycled logo pendants are made in India. The Sierra Leone Civil War had deep roots in destructive mining practices so sourcing ethical jewelry is a point of emphasis. We work with local artisans to source and finish our goods and portion of our profit from the onset has gone to community programs that help our collective community.
You are all about “coming together”, “community” and “collaboration”. How do you enable this with Finor X?
Finor X is an idea and not a person. Showing the diversity of Africa and the African Diaspora can only be done by collaborating with other creatives to tell their own narratives. Our offerings help bring a global experience wherever the brand goes, helping educate people about experiences from different parts of the world. Celebrating each other’s similarities and sharing our differences is how we show we are better together. We started on a foundation of sustainability and community service and plan to continue to do so.
For those who may not know, what is and how can we identify community environmental justice?
The fight for environmental justice is tightly woven to the fight for social justice. Climate action can happen with fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income. Many are unaware that environmental issues disproportionately affect communities of color which lead to disparities in health risks. In August 2017 alone, Puerto Rico, Bangladesh, China, India and Sierra Leone suffered catastrophic natural disasters affecting the lives of millions. Issues such as deforestation, lack of access to clean drinking water, and living in and near pollution is a threat to our livelihoods. Finor X is a call to action to create awareness and real change starting with our sustainable and environmentally focused products.
What are the key issues we should tap into if we’d be willing to have a positive impact within communities and being more collaborative with each other?
Everything has an environmental component no matter the field or subject. Finding ways to improve or align our daily practices with our environment and nature usually leads to a better community and it takes collaboration to sustain such communities.
You are based in the US, how does a social entrepreneurial venture look like there? Do you feel there’s a change happening in the country especially when it comes to communities’ collaboration and environmental justice?
Definitely, there are many people doing grassroot work and creating their own communities from the ground up. Finor X would not exist without such communities that have poured into our mission along the way.
If you could write a message on a big wall that the entire world could read, what would it say?
Finally, where can we find you? Shops, online, worldwide…?
All of our items can be found exclusively at www.finorx.com
How inspiring is this sustainable fashion brand? Comment below and share your thoughts and opinions with us!