‘What we wear is directly related to what we feel. Clothes literally touch us, hug us’
London-based photographer Ronan Mckenzie launches made-to-order fashion label Selasi
In the throes of lockdown, the photographer Ronan Mckenzie put down her camera and started to make clothes without really knowing how. What started as ‘something fun to do’ has evolved into a small line of made-to-order pieces presented under the name ‘Selasi’, meaning ‘God hears me’ in Ewe, a language spoken in Ghana. ‘The only reason I decided to give it a name was to make space for it in my mind,’ says Mckenzie. ‘I struggle to have downtime and relax, so I thought that turning it into an ongoing project would make me dedicate more time to actually doing it.’
Mckenzie is a consummate multi-hyphenate: a photographer-director-curator-designer-artist. Towards the end of 2019, looking for a new outlet beyond commercial photography, she opened Home – a multifunctional creative hub encompassing a gallery, an events programme, a library and communal workspace in north London. ‘I needed something wholesome and community focused. I want to open myself up to creative pursuits in a way that doesn’t take away from any one of them,’ she says.
Selasi is defined by its softly sculptured heft. Mckenzie begins by drawing on A4 paper, guessing shapes and then cutting them in fabric before amending designs on her own body, tweaking in the mirror. The front of a trouser might be different to the back. One leg might be longer than the other. Cloth is slashed and hems always left unfinished. The clothes look homespun because they are.
There are no plans for the label to be wholesaled, but a private launch of a full collection is due later this year. This will include a small run of knitwear made in collaboration with Khanh Brice Nguyen and shoes with Ugo Paulon. ‘It’s still me working things out – most of the time I’m so excited, I don’t want to spend time hemming!’ She says: ‘I’ve become more attentive about what clothes mean to me in this last year. I’ve been thinking so much more about what we put on our skin, what wraps us and holds us. How fabrics feel against our bodies. What we wear is directly related to what we feel. Clothes literally touch us, hug us.’ §