|Zuri dresses all in a row by Durell Godfrey|
I have more than enough clothes to cover every possible occasion from washing the car to meeting the Queen. There is a better chance I will be at the car wash than the palace, but you never know.
I've bought little this summer and felt not the least deprived. It's not that I'm smart as much as stuck. Fashion today is a bit of a mish-mash. There is an overabundance of choices at all price points, and nothing seems to be really "in" or "out".
|Zuri dresses from Zuri.com|
When the Zuri dress popped up on a fashion website, I quickly recovered from my summertime malaise and decided I had to have one. I've always loved those bright African cotton prints but never found a dress that didn't look like a costume. Sure enough, Zuri dresses, made in Kenya, bill themselves as the one dress you need. Perhaps it's not the only dress you need, but it's certainly a fun and versatile addition to your wardrobe.
Here's a dress that flatters a crayon box of figure types (thanks to waxed cotton that has some life to it), comes in many patterns (big and small), a range of colors (bright to subdued), is beautifully made for a reasonable price ($145-$160), and is providing decent work and wages for workers in Kenya.
Fitted through the shoulders, a Zuri dress swings away from the body, has a stand-up collar, pockets and hidden buttons down the front. The Zuri can be worn as a dress, belted or sashed, worn as a tunic or a jacket or even worn as a skirt with a little artful tying. It totally defies an age-range and is pretty much the Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress.
This is the backstory: In 2016 a transplanted New York designer living in Nairobi, Sandra Zhao, created a dress she could shove into a backpack that would still look good when unpacked, be easy to wear, pretty and culturally correct. It's fast and cheap to have clothing made in Nairobi, and there is a huge selection of the fun designs we call "African prints." She so enjoyed wearing it she started living in it. Ashleigh Gersh Miller, another transplanted New Yorker, spotted her at a wedding, wanted one as a maternity dress, and the rest is history.
They began in just a few stores stateside, spread through ongoing pop-ups throughout the country, have a website (shopzuri.com with free U.S. shipping) and last year opened a brick and mortar at 363 Bleeker Street in New York City.
The name Zuri comes from the Swahili, mzuri, meaning good. Dresses are produced in a fair trade and ethical workshop and workers have benefits, including childcare.
|Melissa at Shark Bites; photo by DG|
I heard about a pop-up at Shark Bites in Montauk, Long Island, and asked my friend Durell Godfrey if she would check it out. Not only did she investigate, she found a dress for herself. And it's the same one I had chosen for myself. It's a good thing we live 1700 miles apart.
|Durell at the pop-up|
|Me in my front yard|