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Africa.Now – Exploring Africa’s Creative Community With Design Indaba

  Having spent the last seven years bringing you some of the names, designs, and services that have shaped the emergence and development of the creative industries across Africa one cannot help but be inspired by the energy surrounding what is happening; that feeling that anything is possible. Something that can at times be hard to articulate in a post when experiencing it in person can be so much more impactful. And this is the premise of Design Indaba’s Africa.Now initiative and video series, which brings you closer to the action through on-screen interviews with those who are an active […]

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Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair Presents The 2017 Well Made In Africa Exhibitors

  Earlier this year, I was honoured to have been appointed the guest curator for the prestigious Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair’s Well Made in Africa showcase. 2017 introduces a new, exquisite selection of Well Made in Africa exhibitors from the continent under the curatorship of Tapiwa Matsinde, author of Contemporary Design Africa. Tapiwa presents a selection that is anchored in heritage & modernity. This year Sanlam HmC will host the work of a dynamic group of designers who have been chosen for their innovative use of Africa’s diverse craft heritages to create modern sophisticated products for contemporary living. And with […]

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Fashion Cities Africa Marking Africa’s Influence On Global Fashion

  Fashion Cities Africa is a major UK based exhibition that explores and celebrates the African continent’s influence and contribution to global fashion. The exhibition which opened earlier this year on 30th April at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery explores the diverse fashion and style of four leading African cities, Casablanca in Morocco; Nairobi in Kenya; Lagos in Nigeria and Johannesburg in South Africa. Cities that are at the compass points of the African continent. Fashion Cities Africa tackles the misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding African fashion and its diverse expressions of creativity. [Main image credit: Fashion Cities Africa, Brighton […]

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Fashion Illustration Africa Art Book Introducing A New Generation

  Fashion Illustration is a creative discipline that in recent years has captured the imagination of fashion lovers everywhere, and is by no means a recent phenomenon. The discipline has a rich history of documenting fashion, style and cultural trends long before the advent of cameras and photography led to its decline. Rising and falling in popularity over the decades but never quite reaching the dizzy heights of the past, in recent years Fashion Illustration has witnessed a renaissance on the back of the growing share culture that has been fostered by social media. This has allowed for an abundance […]

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African Catwalk Captures Africa’s Fast Growing Fashion Industry

African Catwalk is a new book by award-winning photographer Per-Anders Pettersson, that takes the viewer on a journey behind the scenes of Africa’s flourishing fashion industry. African Catwalk brings together images shot in 16 countries over a 7  year period, and captures a side to the fashion industry rarely seen by the audience. From the birds-eye view of models parading down a sleek catwalk under the glare of bright lights to the unguarded moments of models waiting their turn African Catwalk documents the details that are making the Africa’s diverse fashion industry one of the most exciting around.  

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Traditional Nigerian Textiles Meet Contemporary African Design

Ethnik by T.O. is a stylish range of contemporary African design footwear and fashion accessories made with beautifully woven Aso Oke, a traditional Yoruba textile. The collection, launched in 2015, is the brainchild of photographer and designer Tunde Olowabi, who by tapping into his heritage is adding to the diverse creative voices shaping contemporary African design. [Main image credits: Ethnik by T.O. – Tunde Olowabi Studios]

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Le Dessein Empowering Young Girls Through Educated Fashion

I love hearing about brands that seek innovative ways to make a difference in the world and was immediately captivated by the story behind Le Dessein, no ordinary fashion brand. Based in the US, Le Dessein uses fashion to educate and empower young girls in developing countries and has a goal of educating 10,000 girls in ten years. And, what is different about the business model is that rather than simply creating a collection and selling the clothes, they have chosen to make the girls they support an active part of the brand. This is achieved by embroidering art sketches […]

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Picture Africa Exhibition Celebrating African Creativity

“Picture Africa” is an exciting new exhibition that celebrates African creativity, the relationship between photography, textiles, and fashion as seen through a pan-African lens. The exhibition will feature a host of leading African design and creative talent, as well as contributors from bloggers, image-makers, artisans and fashion leaders. Curated by Cathy O’Clery “Picture Africa” is a feature of two 100% Design South Africa events, first taking place at Decorex Cape Town, which runs from 29 April – 2 May 2016, before travelling to Gauteng, where it will be on show at 100% Design South Africa from 5 – 10 August 2016.

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Calling All Emerging Accessory Designers Enter The ABURY Design Experience

If you are passionate about designing and producing accessories that not only look good but have a positive impact, then it is not too late to enter the Abury Design Experience (ADEx) competition to be in with a chance to create a capsule accessories collection for the sustainable luxury accessory brand, Abury. Abury’s ethos is to combine traditional, old-world crafts with avant-garde design to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange and helps preserves world crafts. And, now in its second year, ADEx is an international design competition- held in partnership with Harper’s Bazaar Germany -that builds on […]

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Hermès Collaborates with Ardmore Artisans for The La Marche Du Zambèze Scarf

The luxury French fashion house, Hermès recently launched La Marche du Zambeze, a stunning silk twill scarf that was the result of a collaboration with South African ceramic studio, Ardmore. Celebrating African art and creativity the scarf was designed by Ardmore’s artisans. La Marche du Zambeze is set in the great river lands of the Zambezi tracing its course from the savannah to the delta marshes and features a majestic elephant at its centre, symbolising family and power. Gathered around the elephant are the creatures of his kingdom, giraffe, zebra, leopard, and crocodile. The river’s flora is silhouetted all around […]

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NeoBantu Vibrant Modern African Print Clothing Pays Homage to Africa

Bold patterns, vibrant colours, and contemporary classic silhouettes tailored to fit each wearer are the hallmarks of NeoBantu, a Dallas-based fashion label that was co-founded by pharmacist Tendai Tawonezvi. Hailing from Zimbabwe, NeoBantu is a celebration of Tendai’s heritage; embracing modern African print clothing and pays homage to the wider African continent. The company name is derived from ‘Neo’ meaning new and ‘Bantu’, the peoples, culture and languages of sub-Saharan Africa. [Image credit: Alba Tuxedo Pants and Blazer – NeoBantu]

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Ikire Jones African Inspired Menswear For The Adventurous

Ikire Jones is a visionary African inspired menswear label that celebrates the individual, those not afraid to go against the norm. The Ikire Jones style sees old world tradition combined with contemporary aesthetics in the form of vibrant flamboyant West African textiles and inspiration married with the sophistication of sharp Neapolitan tailoring to create garments that are expertly hand cut and sewn in Philadelphia, USA where the company is based. [Image credit: Escape to New Lagos Collection – Ikire Jones]

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Kanga Kulture For KISUA Modern African Fashion Online

[Image credit: African Print Pleat Jacket – Kanga Kulture for KISUA] Kenyan women’s wear designer Juliet Kwamboka has teamed up with KISUA premier retailer of modern African fashion online to create Kanga Kulture for KISUA, an exclusive capsule collection perfect for the perpetual globetrotter.

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African Fashion Designer Maxhosa by Laduma Knitwear for Her

[Image credit: Buyel’mbo womenswear collection, Autumn/Winter 2014 – Maxhosa by Laduma] As the days get colder, it is time to think about investing in knitwear, and just in time for the season ahead are new knitwear designs by South African fashion designer Laduma Ngxokolo who, following on from his critically acclaimed menswear collections, has introduced a chic women’s knitwear range for Autumn/Winter 2014. Trading under the brand name Maxhosa by Laduma, the South African fashion designer’s designs are rooted in the traditions and culture of his homeland, and this latest collection entitled Buyel’mbo, is inspired by a Xhosa phrase often uttered […]

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Defining Luxury African Fashion Buki Akib Design Indaba Interview

Buki Akib’s luxurious style, influenced by West African textile traditions captures the imagination. The textiles and fashion accessories designer is defining Luxury African fashion. I recently caught up with the highly experimental designer to glean further insight into her work and inspirations. The full feature can be read on Design Indaba. [Main image credit: Buki Akib Menswear]

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South African Fashion Designers Geometric Prints And Structured Forms

Sindiso Khumalo is one of South African fashion designers challenging our perceptions of African fashion design. Bold graphics and geometric prints characterise the work of the fashion and textile designer. A former architect, Sindiso studied at the University of Cape Town, and moved to London to work for reknowned architect David Adjaye. She left the practice to study an MA Design for Textile Futures at Central St Martins College of Art and Design before setting up her eponymous label. Exploring different aspects of textile print design, Sindiso’s architectural training is evident in her style. She uses forms like modernist buildings as points of […]

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Ohema Ohene Geo Africa Fashion Design Collection

[Image credit: Ohema Ohene, Laura Cape Dress – Oh! Printex Collection] In a departure from the colourful African print fabrics that usually define their collections, London-based fashion label Ohema Ohene’s recent geo Africa fashion design collection saw the adoption of a striking monochrome palette. Launched in July, the limited-edition capsule collection was produced in collaboration with textile company, Printex Ghana. Entitled OH! PRINTEX the collection celebrates Printex’s history of black and white prints through fun, wearable designs for both men and women.

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African Fashion Store My Asho Colourful Patchwork Clutches

Spotted on the online African fashion store My Asho a limited edition collection of colourful patchwork clutches, just in time for spring. Handcrafted by the Nigerian accessories label Gidan Nodza, a myriad of mismatched printed and hand dyed fabric or leather patches are combined to form the bags. All styles are fully lined and a zip closure completes the look. Head designer Amina Adefala scours local markets for the leather, and the fabric is printed locally produced using traditional techniques like resist dyeing. The patchwork nature of the designs means each bag produced is unique. The patchwork collection extends to totes […]

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Contemporary African Inspired Accessories Uphold Traditional Craft

Meaning ‘good’ in Maa, the language of the Maasai, ‘Sidai’ is the name given to a business creating contemporary African inspired accessories by infusing traditional beading with modern aesthetics. The company was inspired by a visit to Arusha, in Northern Tanzania. Sidai Designs was founded by, Eszter Rabin, a graphic designer turned artisan entrepreneur living in California, and Emanuel Melubo Laizer, a Maasai Warrior from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Northern Tanzania. Discovering a mutual interest in working with underserved communities, Emanuel and Eszter joined forces in 2009 to share ideas, and after several visits to Maasai communities launched Sidai Designs in 2011. […]

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Uru Diamonds Ethical East African Jewellery And Fashion Accessories

It is no secret the African Continent is blessed with diamonds that are coveted the world over, and harnessing this mineral wealth should come with social responsibilities. However, as we all know this is not always the case, especially when it comes to conflict free diamonds. East African jewellery company, Uru Diamonds based in Tanzanian is a company that works with conflict free diamonds and precious stones, to produce contemporary jewellery collections. The company name ‘Uru’ comes from a very old Swahili term describing a powerful essence; used here to invoke the days of ancient African Kings and Queens where diamonds were […]

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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
  • Instagram Image
  • Colourful basketry, soulful sculpture and an elegant candle make a nice placeholder we think, as we prepare to usher in a new chapter of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Gifted hands. A glimpse behind the scenes of Kaross a South African based embroidery initiative, whose artisans transform furnishings into works of art. [📷 credit: Kaross]
  • Tools of the trade, a hand carved printing block stamp by textile designer @juliekouamo whose evocative designs tell the stories of cultures past and present. Julie's textiles feature richly layered patterns, textures and printed pictures that come together to create vibrant collages. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]
  • Fishermen's boats, a familiar sight along the Senegalese coast line. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]

Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive