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MitiMeth Turning Water Hyacinth Into Functional Handcrafted Products

Water Hyacinth is a plant that takes root in waterways the world over, causing destruction to aquatic and plant eco-systems. For communities that rely on their waterways for food, livelihoods, and transportation water hyacinth blocks access to the water essential to their survival. In Nigeria, a local social enterprise, MitiMeth, is harvesting water hyacinth and turning it into functional handcrafted products, and empowering members of the local community.

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Reform Studio’s Eco-Friendly Fashion Accessories Made In Egypt

  Reform Studio is an Egyptian based furniture and product design studio that I first featured on Atelier Fifty Five a couple of years ago. The company founded by Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem focuses on sustainable design, using materials such as discarded plastic and cotton threads to create Plastex, their durable, eco-friendly material. The award-winning studio now introduces Torero a collection of eco-fashion satchels made out of the company’s signature fabric and crafted by the skillful hands of two craftsmen and two housewives. Torero is all about style with a purpose.  

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LONDRÉ TAN Fashion Accessories Made in Africa for the Modern Woman

  LONDRÉ TAN is a luxury South African brand of fashion accessories that caters to the modern woman. Based in Johannesburg the brand was launched in 2014 by Lilian Muhammed, a fashion industry entrepreneur. Style, exceptional craftsmanship and luxury epitomizes Londré Tan’s collections which include handbags, belts, and jewellery. Named after a major South African city, each design pays homage to the diversity, rich culture and beauty of the country.

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Abury Ethical Luxury Where Old World Traditions Meet Cutting Edge Design

Abury is an ethical luxury fashion accessories brand whose ethos is one of combining old world traditions with cutting edge design to create a new style, one of timeless and authentic luxury. Abury is a response to mass production, inviting people to appreciate the beauty that is around them, to form emotional connections to the products they buy and to take the time to recognise the meaning of of true luxury that comes with tradition, time and care in production. Heritage, knowledge and wisdom are turned into timeless high quality products, that include bags, personal accessories and footwear for people […]

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Luxury South African Accessories Brand Okapi Launches in London

Luxury South African accessories brand Okapi, celebrated the launch of its first shop in London with a stylish summer soiree. Name after the elusive antelope, Okapi, was founded in 2008 by South African painter Hanneli Rupert and offers a stylish array of luxury artisanal handbags and accessories.  [Main image credit: Okapi London Shop – Okapi]

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A A K S Luxury Hand Woven Made In Africa Bags At Anthropologie

Made in Africa Luxury accessories label, A A K S was founded in 2014 by colour-obsessed designer, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, whose passion for all things bright led to the creation of a chic range of handbags handcrafted in Bolgatanga, a region in northern Ghana famed for its longstanding basket weaving traditions. Through A A K S Akosua intended to capture the spirit and durability of this heritage, showcasing the hand weaving techniques to a global audience and in the process help support the artisans and communities the company works with by creating local jobs. A A K S works closely with […]

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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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Interview With Souadou Barry of Fulani HB Luxury Handbags

Last year in March, I introduced Fulani HB luxury handbags and accessory line based in the US which utilises beautifully woven traditional Senegalese fabrics. I recently caught with the designer, Souadou Barry to chat about her latest Autumn/Winter collection, gaining an insight into her inspirations, processes, and the woman she designs for.

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Functional And Fashionable East African Leather Products

From a factory based on the outskirts of Karen, in Kenya, high-quality leather, suede and canvas materials are expertly crafted into a range of stylish personal and travel East African leather products. The factory is the home of Rift Valley Leather, a local company that through its products, actively works to promote local handcrafting skills; and takes care to utilise materials, like camel and calf hides, that have been sourced exclusively in the East African region.

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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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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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Fulani African Inspired Handbags Blending Tradition And Style

My journey on this blog has lead me to some wonderful discoveries of talent and traditions I knew nothing about, so when a stylish range of African inspired handbags and clutches called Fulani landed in my inbox I was introduced to an exquisitely woven traditional fabric from Senegal called Rabaal, which provided the inspiration for the collection. Mainly used as a commodity, given to honour some of life’s greatest events such as a wedding or birth of a child, Rabaal is a delicate fabric hand woven by skilled artisans using traditional patterns that have been updated with bright pops of colour for […]

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Ugo Oilcloth Bags Modern African Print Accessories

How trendy are Ugo’s oilcloth bags, and so practical too given a day like today’s wet weather! Oilcloth or PVC coated fabrics have been popular with designers like Cath Kidston and Orla Kiely whose distinctive patterned bags and accessories are highly sort after fashion accessories. Ugo is the brainchild of Ugonna Hosten, an accessories designer living in London, UK. Ugonna was born in Nigeria, moving to the UK in 1989 and is inspired by uplifting and expressive traditions, including the African tradition of storytelling and through her products seeks to convey the joy, beauty, strength and richness of African art and culture […]

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Emmanuel Shuga Kasongo Vintage African Design Inspiration

Emmanuel shuga Kasongo is a Congolese born, French designer who moved from Paris to London where he established his creative business, Ethno Art Vision in 1997, now the Cemak Collection, creating handbags, jewellery and other accessories influenced by vintage African design inspiration, his heritage, travels and background in the fashion industry. . Emmanuel started out as a model for a leading French designer, later making the move into product sourcing and spent over a decade organising fashion shows and related events in Paris and Milan for leading French, Italian and Japanese designers.

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Tashanda Zimbabwe Sadza Batik Accessories Modern African Textile

The Zimbabwe Sadza Batik is a modern African textile, staking its claim as a future ‘traditional’ fabric and is one that takes pride of place across homes around the country and beyond in the form of wall hangings, bedspreads and tablecloths; I have mine that my mum brought back for me from Zimbabwe, I’m just trying to find the right size frame for it to hang on the wall, a task that has proved harder than I thought. The Sadza batik process works in much in the same way as the traditional wax batik method, substituting the wax for Sadza; […]

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Aidya Stylish African Leather Handbags

Loving these stylish African leather handbags and clutch bags by London-based accessories label, Aiyda. Chic and elegant, the ‘Addis’ clutch is made from supple leather and is secured with a long strip of leather that winds around the side of bag, which makes for eye-catching detailing.

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African Fashion Accessories Project Sierra Leone Beaded Bags

Recently introduced to Project Sierra Leone I was instantly taken with the range of beaded clutch bags on display; a simple idea turned into striking fashion accessories I can immediately see them developing into a fabulous range of design-led products that are not only cool for carrying around day or night, but lend themselves to multiple uses such as make-up and toiletry bags. Having lived away from Sierra Leone for 17 years, Project Sierra Leone’s founder Margaret Kadi returned to her home country in April 2010 for a holiday and was infused with the renewed sense of energy and activity she could […]

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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