At Malawian Style, we are proud to share the culture of Malawi and Zambia and we are always looking for ways to support local enterprises while giving our guests a taste of the local culture. It is in our roots to shine a light on local projects and this ethic is one of the reasons why the company was created. It shows in our tours, in our choice of partners that we really want to work with people supporting the country, protecting the environment and believing in sustainable ways to develop tourism. This is why we always make sure to stop by Tribal Textiles after each bush adventure in South Luangwa National Park.
Tribal Textiles was founded in 1991 and now employs over 100 people! It started between North and South Luangwa, deep in the bush and grew so much that Gillie Lightfoot, Tribal Textiles creator and owner, moved it to a more accessible area, Mfuwe, just at the entrance of South Luangwa. Tribal Textiles is a small company that was born from the love of experimenting and mixing modern with traditional, creating unique hand-painted textiles for any kind of home decoration but also accessories and kid’s products. The designs are a mix of traditional African art and contemporary drawings inspired by the bush.
This mix also shows in Tribal Textiles clients. Originally sold to local lodges, the brand now sells online and its goods are stocked in more than 20 countries!
From the inspiration of the Zambian Bush to your living room! A lot happens in the Tribal Textiles workshop!
Our guests can discover it when coming back from their safari, our guides will be more than happy to stop by this unique place. Firstly, guests will go through a little marketplace before reaching the large workshop where employees give free tours to show how they produce such beautiful products in such a remote place!
The workshop is located under the shadow of the trees that host monkeys! The team welcomes all visitors with a smile and are very happy to share their knowledge with evident pride and pleasure.
The tour displays the art of drawing the complex designs on cotton fabric freehand, squeezing bottles of flour or water solution above the fabric and laying down the designs.
After the design part, it’s time to add a little colour to the fabric before baking it in a huge oven to fix the colours. This step is necessary to make sure the material can go through a washing machine! Fabrics are then scraped free of the starch resist which leaves a distinct crackle effect.
Last but not least, the sewing department provide the ultimate touch to the product before going to the shop where you can find various products, designs and colours to suit any taste!
This is how Tribal Textiles manages to create unique textiles while working in harmony with nature – all raw materials are ethical and from within Africa. In this area suffering from high unemployment Tribal Textiles is one of the biggest employers and the team commit to providing sustainable jobs as well as training alongside a good working environment. All workers in the workshops are Zambian men and women, some of them have been working in the company for 20 years, like Moses Musa who became a workshop manager! The company is also involved in the community by sponsoring a local School as well as many other local initiatives.
A stop at Tribal Textiles is a way to step back from the bush and catch an insight of the community spirit of Mfuwe. It gives our clients the opportunity to appreciate the talent and culture of locals as well as taking home a product and a memory of their Zambian experience!
Rory spent two years working in Malawi at Malawian Style and got to discover much of Malawi and Zambia before returning to Europe – where he continues to put Malawi on the map. His favourite experience was trekking Mount Mulanje due to its challenging trails yet rewarding views and the sense of accomplishment upon reaching the peak. He continues to travel and is certain to return to Southern Africa again soon!