Hello, I am the founder and designer of Doussou Traoré clothing and accessories brand for women.
My namesake brand is rooted in my personal journey which I characterize by exposure, discovery and nostalgia. Born in the United States, I spent most of my childhood in my country of origin, Mali. Then moved to Saudi Arabia with my family when I was a young girl.
The pursuit of a university degree brought me back to the United States and work opportunities took me to Italy, Sudan, South Africa, Lesotho, Madagascar and France. Observing and at times, fully immersing myself in different cultures and contexts have very much cultivated my entrepreneurial identity and my creative process.
Before Doussou Traoré
Prior to establishing my brand Doussou Traoré, I worked for over a decade as an Agricultural Economist Consultant for technical agencies of the United Nations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). My first position at FAO was research assistance in analyzing value chain constraints and options for cash crops such as cotton, coffee and cocoa in West Africa.
During this project, I started to think critically about the negative implications for a country like Mali to produce and export raw cotton – forgoing valuable opportunities to undertake further processing and textile manufacturing.
For instance, spinning cotton by hand so that the thread is fine and even is a remarkable skill – traditionally a woman’s occupation, and one that is now very rare due to the ever-increasing availability of cheap imported cloth.
As a result, the best spinners are now elderly women, and their skills are not being passed on to new generations. Good weavers and dyers are also increasingly difficult to find. As I returned more frequently to Mali, I dove deeper to understand the exceptional craft behind hand-spun, handwoven and hand-painted Malian fabric, and these fabrics have become the central feature of my brand: a tradition in dressing that is authentic, stylish and that feels good on the skin.
The Cotton Fabrics
The cotton fabrics are real national treasures and I have great respect and admiration for the textile designers who continue to create motifs that spin hundreds of tales. Dyes are extracted from natural sources such as mineral mud, indigo, and other color-bearing plant leaves and bark.
These sources are among the least environmentally impactful while at the same time producing high-quality results. The clothing is produced in a manner that respects not only the environment but also the people all along the supply chain.
The fabrics are ethically sourced, meaning that I personally select my fabrics from suppliers reputed for the positive difference they bring to the people they employ and to their communities.
I was passionate about fashion since my childhood in the vibrant streets of Bamako. I still remember some of my favorite clothing pieces that I designed for myself with the help of neighborhood tailors. So, in 2021, I got my Fashion Design Certificate from the Accademia del Lusso in Rome, Italy.
The new skills I learned helped me to communicate my design ideas effectively with the models and tailors I work with to produce collections that are timeless and edgy. I offer unique contemporary styles drawing inspiration precisely from craft and folklore, clothing my customers in the unique and bespoke.
More About Doussou Traoré
Doussou Traoré is a novel fashion design partnership that bridges world-class art, textiles and tailoring. Malian craftsmanship is at heart: in the midst of the arid terrains of the Sahel, textile makers practice ancient weaving and dyeing techniques. They create motifs that spin hundreds of tales. Doussou offers unique contemporary styles drawing inspiration precisely from this folklore.
Written by Doussou Traoré.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Fashinnovation’s columnists are their own, not those of Fashinnovation.