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From Kenya W Love – African Fashion Pop Up Shop

On Tuesday evening I braved the cold and made my way towards Covent Garden, Monmouth Street to be exact, where fashion boutique, Sapellé was holding a press evening to celebrate their pop-up in collaboration with the Festival for African Fashion and Arts (FAFA Kenya). A lovely evening, in attendance were Daphne Kasambala founder of Sapellé; Ann McCreath, the co-founder of FAFA Kenya and the Kenyan fashion label KikoRomeo; and Hebret Lakew of Kenyan fashion label, Kooroo, all on hand to chat about their work.

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Obakki Clothing Fashion With Positive Impact In Sudan

In a beautifully shot campaign featuring South Sudanese model Ajak Deng, the rare culture and pastoral society of South Sudan is portrayed through a sophisticated clothing collection by Obakki; a fashion label that also runs The Obakki Foundation a not-for-profit humanitarian organisation headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. Drilling water wells in South Sudan provided the inspiration for Obakki’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection, which uses colour, pattern and texture in the clothes and fabrics as a timeline to telling the country’s dramatic journey to independence.

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Mozambican Fashion Designer Taibo Bacar Defining African Fashion

Taibo Bacar is an award-winning Mozambican designer, whose stunning creations have been setting African fashion boards alight for a while now. His latest collection for Autumn/Winter 2013-14, entitled ‘Fit for A Princess’ has captivated imaginations with its innovative use of Capulana fabric combined with sumptuous lace trimmings and embellishment. Capulana is a traditional cloth worn in Mozambique and is similar to other popular African print fabrics worn across the continent such as wax cloth and kitenge. Taking the urban princess as his muse, the ‘Fit for a Princess’ collection was inspired in Rome and is a journey from Africa to […]

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Bundu Bags South African Made Fashion Accessories

I do like messenger bags for their practical functionality, given they are usually roomy enough to store a laptop or iPad, and the South African made fashion accessories by Bundu Bags offer a trendy range sporting a cool retro vibe, one that calls to mind Graphic Art, specifically the ’60s trends of Op Art and Mod style. Bundu Bags’ collections also include beach bags, totes and cute bags for kids. Employing traditional basket weaving techniques, Bundu Bags are made from commercial recycled cargo strapping, upcycling a product that would most likely end up in landfills.

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Stylish Clutch Bags Fusing European And African Culture

Whilst browsing the online fashion accessories site Boticca, I came across a feature on London based luxury handbag and fashion accessories label, Solomon Appollo who have a gorgeous, colourful range of ‘hard to choose one’ clutch bags that fuse European and African culture. Designed by Ozie Amadi, a graphic designer turned fashion accessories designer who was born and raised in East London; Solomon Appollo is all about cute and convenient stylishness. Solomon Appollo combines Ozie’s European upbringing and her Nigerian culture and heritage, factors, which are a major influence on her design aesthetic.

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Maya Antoun Traditional African jewellery Making Techniques

Fluid, sculptural forms interlaced with segments of fine filigree work defines the stunning jewellery creations by Sudanese designer Maya Antoun. Based in the UK, Maya seeks to combine traditional African jewellery making techniques with contemporary ones to create a new vision for African jewellery, and indeed the wider context of her work, which is influenced by the diversity of cultures, reflected in her own culturally diverse upbringing and exploring the ways in which individuals from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds might interpret their traditional jewellery, and in the process creating something new, fresh and exciting.

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The Shop At Bluebird Contemporary African Fashion Brands Pop Up

May/June this year saw South African luxury concept boutique, Merchants on Long pop up in London at The Shop at Bluebird. I was away during that time and just missed it, however those who visited were treated to some of Africa’s premier established and emerging contemporary African fashion brands including: Lalesso, SAWA, MaxHosa by Laduma, Bantu and Okapi. Okapi is a luxury handbag line produced in South Africa by Hanneli Rupert, the founder of Merchants on Long. [Image credits: Okapi]

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Koshie O Colourful African Print Fashion Accessories

Compact and colourful; New York-based fashion label Koshie O’s range of messenger bags make for perfect weekend African print fashion accessories. Just the right size for all your essentials, the Lady Splash Messenger Bag is made with a patchwork of bold and vibrant Ankara prints on the front flap, which is accessorised with a gold metal plated chain and logo detailing. Complementary plain canvas fabric on the back and straps provides contrast and leather detailing on the sides completes the design.

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Universal Fashion Ethiopia Hand Woven Accessories

Seeking a way to combine the three main passions in her life; the human spirit, fashion and social responsibility led medical doctor, Dr Amy Demissew, to set up Universal Fashion Ethiopia, a company which produces a range of personal and interior furnishings that are hand woven in Ethiopia. Amy sees fashion a universal theme in this world, noting that different culture have their own fashion identity uniting people, Amy who was born and raised in Ethiopia, now resides in the Netherlands; and remembers as a child designing and wearing her own creations. [Image credits: Universal Fashion Ethiopia]

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Jewels Of The Kalahari Ostrich Eggshell Jewellery Made In Africa

Handmade by the San of the Kalahari, Jewels of the Kalahari is a collection of ostrich eggshell jewellery made using the delicate natural shards of the eggs, which are combined with other materials like recycled glass. Upholding craftsmanship and ancient skills, Jewels of the Kalahari was produced by One Fine Thread; a business that was founded by designer Anna Haber as a platform to highlight the rich culture and unique designs found in global arts and craft traditions. [Image credits: One Fine Thread, Jewels of the Kalahari Collection –  left, Boo George; right, L-Atitude]

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Buki Akib Darkroom Luxury West African Textiles Accessory Collection

Continuing to draw inspiration from Fela Kuti, Nigerian knitwear designer Buki Akib has launched a luxury West African textiles accessory collection of bags inspired by the legendary singer’s 27 wives. Exclusive to London store, Darkroom; Fela, The Wives is a follow up to Buki’s acclaimed menswear collection, previously featured on the site here. [Image credits: Buki Akib, Fela, The Wives Bag Collection – Darkroom]

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African Fashion Joel Janse van Vuuren Chaos By Design

Looking for a way to create garments that would be creative right from the beginning of the design process, South African fashion designer Joel Janse van Vuuren purposely chose to move away from the methods of his formal fashion design teachings, using instead the ‘chaos’ of randomly spilt paint on paper to influence his fashion designs, and then giving order and structure to the blots by creating fashion illustrations from the shapes revealed. This is a method he calls ‘Chaos by Design’. [Image credit: Joel Janse van Vuuren, Spring/Summer 2011 – SDR Photo]

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Made In Africa Accessories Sseko Swiss Miss Clutch Bag Reader Offer

In February of last year I did a feature on the made in Africa accessories brand, Sseko sandals and how the business is helping young women in Uganda go on to higher education. This month the business marks its third year in business, significant in that it means three classes of women have graduated from Sseko and are now in university. To celebrate this achievement Sseko has just released The Swiss Miss Clutch, a range of handcrafted clutch bags, that are perfect accessories for day and night; and have kindly offered African Daydreams readers 10% of the new Swiss Miss Clutch bags valid from now until Tuesday, […]

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The Gentlemen of Bacongo Sapeurs Of Congo Street Style

Everytime the ‘Gentlemen of Bacongo‘ photographic exhibition came to London, I always managed to miss it, so whilst I was in Dakar I finally got to see some images from book of the Sapeurs of Congo; on display as part of a wider exhibition on contemporary African photography entitled ‘Africa See You See Me’, that was being held at the Goethe Institute, during the Dak’art 2012 Biennale. Since its release in 2009, the book about the Sapeurs of Congo and accompanying exhibition has delighted and captivated audiences across the world, taking them on a fashionable journey through the streets of […]

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Kenyan Beaded Sandals Colourful Summer Accessories

Inject a dose of pattern and colour into your summer holiday wardrobe with Kenyan beaded sandals from The Afropolitan Shop’s Summer 2012 collection. A traditional style sandal hailing from the coastal region of Kenya forms the basis of the design which feature leather soles, in a choice of black or brown, accessorised by brightly coloured intricate traditional hand beading on the uppers. [Image credits: Kenyan Beaded Sandals clockwise from top left, African Shield, Infinity, Mara, Jamaica and Sunset Sandals – The Afropolitan Shop]

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Carolyn Roumeguere Global Culture And Maasai Inspired Jewellery

Jewellery designer Carolyn Roumeguere is a nomad at heart, a sentiment that is reflected in her eclectic global and Maasai inspired jewellery creations such as the Swahili Choker, a stunning piece that is handmade using the precious gems diamond, sapphire or emerald, and coral. Taking a month to complete the Swahili Choker incorporates traditional Maasai beading, and features an enamel pendant and the beads sourced from Jaipur, India. [Image credit: Carolyn Roumeguere Swahili Choker – CoutureLab]

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José Hendo Bark Cloth Sustainable Fashion Brand

An ancient craft performed by the Baganda people of the Buganda Kingdom in South Uganda Bark cloth is a unique material, made from beaten tree bark in a centuries old technique, and is considered to be the oldest manmade fabric resulting in it being declared a World Heritage Material in 2005. Bark cloth is the fabric of choice for sustainable fashion brand and Ugandan fashion designer José Hendo whose award-winning collection entitled Resonance was made entirely of the material. In a deep hued colour palette, the Resonance collection is quite futuristic, and features strong sculpted forms rather like Japanese origami, apt given […]

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L.GR. Artisan Italian Sunglasses Inspired By Modern African Cities

Denoting the name of founder Luca Gnecchi Ruscone, the initials L G R represent a range of handcrafted artisan Italian sunglasses inspired by modern African cities. Luca was born in Italy but his family has strong ties to East Africa and it was between these two parts of the world that Luca spent his childhood. His father lives in Kenya, his mother was born in Eritrea which is where his grandfather opened an optical store in the 1930s, selling frames imported from Italy. It was a chance discovery of one of these classically styled frames that inspired Luca to set up his own […]

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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