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Stephen Kennedy SHOP ALL
When Albert Ching and Stephen Kennedy decided to do a joint thesis studying transportation in Bangladesh as MIT urban planning graduate students, they had no idea what a turn they were about to take. It all started when they became tight with the trio behind the clothing line Deshal—Munstasir Mamun, Ishrat Jahan, and Sabuj Saddiki—who they met on their trips to the country. “Their concept was clothes for Bangladeshis, by Bangladeshis,” explains Stephen. “They were really the first people to t... READ MORE

When Albert Ching and Stephen Kennedy decided to do a joint thesis studying transportation in Bangladesh as MIT urban planning graduate students, they had no idea what a turn they were about to take. It all started when they became tight with the trio behind the clothing line Deshal—Munstasir Mamun, Ishrat Jahan, and Sabuj Saddiki—who they met on their trips to the country. “Their concept was clothes for Bangladeshis, by Bangladeshis,” explains Stephen. “They were really the first people to tap into the country’s rich heritage in textiles, which was getting lost amid the mega-production factories making Western fast fashion.”

The connection sparked something for Stephen, who studied industrial design as an undergrad. “In my back pocket, I always had an idea I’d like to create my own line, but I could just never picture how that would happen.” So in 2014, the two sets of creative colleagues joined forces. Their test project: men’s popover shirts in textured fabrics woven by Deshal’s 100 ethically treated workers (with the sample sewn by Stephen’s own grandmother!). The result was a hit back in the states, and now the Bay Area-based line also makes easy-fitting dresses and jackets for women, along with handwoven blankets in modern block prints and stripes, all with as serious cool factor. As Stephen says, “We’re helping to change what people think of when they hear ‘made in Bangladesh.’” —liz sheldon


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