Even in jeans and slipper flats, Kenza Fourati cuts a striking presence in the Grazia office. Her nonchalant, French-girl fringe frames her kohl-rimmed eyes, and only a single gold embroidered bee betrays her crisp white shirt is Christian Dior. Needless to say, we fall in love with her immediately.
Born in France, raised in Tunisia and signed to Elite Model Management at 15, Kenza booked Chanel campaigns while studying for her degree in Literature and Fine Art at La Sorbonne in Paris, followed by a Masters in Film Studies, and her runway resume includes catwalk credits for Céline, Gianfranco Ferré, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, Valentino and Vivienne Westwood.
However, it was becoming a mother that made her view the business differently. “I’ve been modelling for many years. It’s given me so many opportunities and an understanding of how fashion works,” she reveals. “When I had my daughter Dora 18 months ago, I began to consume differently and became more aware of traceability and the impact of the supply chain of everything I was buying from food to clothes - I had to have a better understanding of who made it, in what conditions and what the story was behind it,” she explains.
This fuelled Kenza to launch OSAY – which stands for Our Stories Are Yours – that prides itself on being “a curated collection made with love, skill, and soul,” with a focus on sustainable resources made by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean artisans and designers with her American-Argentinian entrepreneur business partner Simone Carrica who she’s known since school. “We work with these artisans to repurpose and recreate fashion for a modern life,” she explains. “We have babouche shoes all made in the Medina in Tunis by a whole family who have been perfecting the craft for many, many generations. The leather is all sustainable and made from by-products. Jewellery brand Aria is made by single mothers in Tunisia, and El Bey works with reclaimed wood fashioned into premium sunglasses.”
Each piece on OSAY is modelled by Kenza – of course - and features its provenance and a backstory, often including the name of the artisan who made it. “I believe I have a responsibility for the clothes I am selling,” she insists. “We need to drive change. The supply chain has to be connected, we need to connect the dots. It’s such a huge industry with so many forces and so it’s very easy to feel very disconnected. It’s very easy to say, ‘Oh I work with this huge brand that’s amazing, it pays me amazingly, but I don’t have to think how is it made or why.’ That’s what I’m trying to challenge.”
Kenza’s message for Grazia readers? “I truly believe we need a fashion revolution. We need to consume with more a bit more soul. Every product you buy has to be really strong but you also need to understand who made it and why they made it. The love that has been put into making it has to be right. This is what drives me the most. We need to have more respect for what we are buying.” By shopping mindfully and meaningfully, the brains, beauty and girl boss behind Our Stories Are Yours hopes we can rewrite a new ending.
- Visit osaythelabel.com to join the movement