Last year, fashion gave us the Zoom collar — oversized and frilly, it can be thrown on top of any old jumper to make your WFH slobware look like an outfit on a video call.
And, as so often happens, where fashion leads, homewares have followed. Bag a home accessory with a ruffle and give an instant update and a dash of lockdown cheer to even the most austere room.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a trend that found its footing on Instagram thanks in no large part to a brand that launched last summer: In Casa by Paboy.
It’s the handle of Paboy Bojang, a 28-year-old Gambian asylum seeker living in Naples who has been selling hand-sewn cushions in vivid contrasting colours to a rapturous and rapidly growing international audience via Instagram.
Trained tailor: the ruffled edges to Bojang’s cushions are inspired by Gambian womenswear
Bojang currently hand-sews all the cushions and selects the 100 per cent Italian cotton and colour combinations himself.
He started working as a tailor at his uncle’s shop in his hometown of Serrekunda aged 13.
“Women in Gambia put ruffles on their clothes and I thought that could also work well on cushions,” he says, explaining the origins of his most distinctive model.
He also offers options with piping and fringing in zinging shades inspired by the colours of his adopted home of Naples and nearby Pompeii.
Bojang arrived in Naples after a two-year journey across the desert and the Mediterranean, followed by two years in a refugee camp. He found work at a majolica workshop making tiles and vases but lost his job after a delay with paperwork.
During the lockdown last year he found a bag of vintage fabric belonging to his housemate, British freelance journalist and documentary maker Sophia Seymour, which he used to make his first cushions.
These gained an instant following on Instagram and Bojang used the money from the sale of those first creations to buy more fabric and build his brand. He now has almost 8,000 followers and has just launched a website with plans to expand into other homewares in future.
He also hopes to encourage other migrants to use their skills to set up their own online businesses. “I had quite a lot of bad experiences with employers. I want to show immigrants like me that they don’t have to rely on employers.”
Three more accounts for Insta frill-seekers
From £35: cushions by Katy Takla
Former garment technologist Takla uses remnants from luxury interiors fabrics for her frilled-edge cushions.
Launched this month with a starting price of £35, there will be new designs every fortnight.
From £12.50: ruffled napkins from Amuse la Bouche
Working with artisans in the UK and abroad, the brand launched last year selling circus-striped ruffled napkins and teatowels in organic cotton and hemp. Prices start at £12.50 for one napkin.
From £215: handmade tablecloth from East London Cloth
Tablecloths and pillowcases in soft, slubby ginghams and plain hemp silk are made to order with a signature ruffle by Gemma in Hackney under the East London Cloth moniker. From £44.50.