These Fashion Designers Are Raising Awareness Of Endangered Animals With Their Line Of Hand-Painted Scarves

"We felt it was critical to do our bit to preserve wildlife and nature."

Fashion can help bring awareness to important causes. This is something that fashion designers Kim Nguyen and Kofi Ansah are taking advantage of with their line, K&K Labs, which helps to raise awareness about endangered species.

As the brand says on its website, "We create beautiful silk scarves that put endangered animals first." This charitable ethos is something that has always been at the forefront of the designers' minds when launching the brand. When asked by A Plus why they decided to launch the line, the London-based designers said:


"We’ve always been inspired by nature and seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. With too much consumerism these days, we felt it was critical to do our bit to preserve wildlife and nature."

Nguyen continued, "Kofi has always wanted to be a National Geographic photographer due to his passion for photography and love of being on expeditions, and I've always been a great lover of pandas. However, the fact wild animals continue facing tragedies and going extinct at the hands of poachers, climate change, and illegal trading was a big factor to what moved us into taking action with creating our ethical brand which focuses on helping raise awareness for endangered animals and nature."

Courtesy of K&K Labs

Before launching the range of luxurious scarves in 2015, the duo had a mission to spread a message through art and that is where the inspiration to help animals came from.

"Deciding what to do in the early stages of starting our brand, our primary focus was to raise awareness through our art," they explained, "But as we continued thinking and planning our goals and missions, we felt a very important aspect of raising awareness was so we could give back to support charities who, on a daily basis, put their lives and souls into making sure vulnerable nature and wildlife is preserved." 

"In order for this vision to manifest, it was important for us to contribute to this cause instead of simply raising awareness," added the designers. "We felt that by giving back, our customers would be part of our global aid to saving wildlife through our annual donations of 10 percent from our profits."

Courtesy of K&K Labs

K&K Labs currently chooses a charity every year to donate the aforementioned profit percentage to. They select the charity by researching various entities and see which ones resonate with the brand's core beliefs. For example, K&K Labs donated to the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia last year after completing a two-week volunteer wildlife expedition in the semi-desert steppes. The event saw the designers helping to research and monitor argali and ibexes. 

And things don't stop there. The designers want to get their followers involved in their charitable efforts. "Our biggest goal is to one day be in the position of creating our own charity for this particular cause."

When it comes to choosing the animals that get incorporated into the designs, K&K Labs currently does not work with any organizations. Instead, the designers look at the stats on endangered species. "Our process of deciding which animals to feature on our scarves is done by looking at the statistics of the most vulnerable or most endangered animals on the endangered list and go from there," Nguyen and Kansah wrote. 

They elaborated, "Some of the decision is sometimes based on endangered animals that ourselves, friends, or customers like. We do get asked by a lot by customers if we have prints of particular animals so we tend to take that into consideration."

Courtesy of K&K Labs

However, it's important to note that the brand believes all animals should be treated equally. "We feel all animals are worth raising awareness for, so we tend to mix it up by the type of animals that end up on our scarves, " the designers explained. "We see ourselves representing many animals in the coming years. Not only do we feature endangered animals, but we celebrate animals who come out of the endangered list. For example, our latest scarves have Giant Pandas [who came off the endangered list in 2016]."

Besides the pandas, the brand's range currently includes scarves, shawls, accessories, and greeting cards with leopards, turtles, and more. The K&K Labs website also lists the specific species they've featured along with facts about them and how they came up with the designs.

Courtesy of K&K Labs

The silk scarves and accessories all feature hand-painted designs that Nguyen and Ansah create with the design process being an extremely important component.

"During the design phase, which all start from pencil to paper, our aim is to make people curious about our designs as well as the animals that feature in it. With this, and with our story of what we do, we hope the final designs encourage people to research and read more about the animals in subject. In doing so, [we hope to] generate awareness in making people conscious of the current state of the endangered list," they said of the process. 

"The end goal is therefore to have a chain reaction of people taking action with raising awareness within their inner circle of networks, friends, and family, which in the end, creates a wider educated and awareness-conscious audience."

And the designers also have one big overall goal. They wrote:

"Behind it all, our prime message we try to convey with our designs is love. We believe all animals and nature deserve attention and love and we want to spread as much of it with our scarves and designs, as much as creating awareness."

Kim Nguyen (left) and Kofi Ansah (right), courtesy of K&K Labs

For Nguyen and Ansah, having pieces that are handcrafted is extremely important. They explain, "Having hand-drawn and illustrated designs for our scarves is an important factor for K&K. It allows us to express ourselves, have signature and unique designs, as well as prints that our clients and customers can recognize us by. Same goes for having handmade products. It allows for great quality which is a big factor when it comes to our scarves."

Courtesy of K&K Labs

When asked by A Plus what they hope people will realize when they wear or see the scarves, the designers wrote, "We hope people's consciousness and awareness is increased.We want to challenge people's curiosity and mindset about nature and the animal kingdom as well as to encourage people to do something about helping to raise awareness to put an end to ongoing tragedies." 

"We want the next generation to live in a world where wildlife can be seen in their natural habitat instead of in museums or zoos and we feel by doing our bit with our timeless scarves, we can raise as much actionable awareness for a better change."


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