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Maki & Mpho Modern Luxury African Design Where Asia Meets Africa

With Father’s Day on the horizon, Sunday 21st June for those who need reminding, I thought it would be apt to introduce a brand that focuses its creative attentions on our menfolk. Maki & Mpho, is a US-based textile brand that ‘celebrates the African renaissance’, by working with African designers to develop modern sophisticated prints for menswear accessories. Defining modern luxury African design the collections include elegant ties, pocket squares and bow ties made from silk twill. [Main image credit: SEVEN – Self-tie Diamond Tip Double-sided Bow Tie – Maki & Mpho]

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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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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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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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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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Armando Cabral Model Turned Men’s Shoe Designer

Today is officially the first day of Spring, a day that is beautifully bright and sunny but still with a crisp freshness in the air, however you can not escape that wonderful sense of renewal; colours seem sharper and there is a lightness to everything. Speaking of colours a range of suede loafers by model turned men’s shoe designer Armando Cabral stylishly capture the essence of spring…aren’t the shades just gorgeous…and they look so soft. [Image credit: Armando Cabral Suede Loafers – Henry Hargreaves]

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Casely-Hayford A Mens Fashion Design Legacy In Motion

A few weeks ago I engaged in a lively debate with some family members; we were discussing Zimbabwean businesses and what it takes to establish lasting legacies known all over the world for quality, service and craftsmanship; that not only the business but the country as a whole could be proud of; a debate that can easily extend to African businesses across the continent. Lasting legacies are something you see all the time with British heritage brands like Burberry and Mulberry, the former dating back over a hundred years, and the French couture houses. I’m not saying legacies in Africa […]

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Oliberté Made In Africa Footwear Profiled On CNN

‘…we never have and still don’t see an Africa that’s categorised by negative generalisations’ one company’s response to an oft asked question as to why anyone would ever consider trying to establish and run a successful business in Africa. Well footwear brand Oliberté, the company in question is attempting to do just that and are in good company if some of the inspirational and pioneering African businesses I have shared are anything to go by. Canadian social entrepreneur, Tal Dehtiar established Oliberté two years ago amidst the challenges of finding financial backers willing to help him realise his vision of a […]

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Textile Designer Buki Akib FELA Menswear Capsule Collection

A graduate of Central Saint Martin’s, highly experimental Nigerian textile designer Buki Agbakiaka’s -aka Buki Akib- work is bold, unique and extravagant. Her recent menswear capsule collection entitled ‘FELA’ was inspired by the pulsating rhythm of the Afrobeat movement, taking the viewer back to a decadent 1970’s Lagos music scene dominated by the pioneering musician Fela Kuti. Fela Kuti’s legendary style was distinctive and heralded a new era of showmanship in the West and Pan-Africa music scene. [Image credit: Buki Akib – FELA Autumn/Winter 2011]

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Missibaba Men’s Leather Sandals For Stiaan Louw

Granted when it comes to women’s footwear there is so much more to choose from than men’s, and with the mercury rising as summer approaches people will be looking towards a more relaxed laidback approach, especially if lucky enough to go on holiday. So if you are a guy shopping for yourself or a woman looking to spoil your man, then South African luxury leather accessories brand Missibaba is branching into men’s accessories with a new range of men’ leather sandals that I spotted on the blog, Man of the Cloth .Created for South African fashion designer Stiaan Louw’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection, the leather […]

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Laduma Ngxokolo South African Knitwear Inspired By Xhosa Culture

The ‘Colourful World of the Xhosa Tribe’ is a range of locally sourced Merino wool and mohair knitted textiles exploring the cultural heritage of the Xhosa people by design graduate and South African knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo. Of his choice of material Laduma Ngxokolo used mohair for its richness of colour and extra sheen, saying it is a versatile material; sustainable, lightweight, breathable and elastic. While studying at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, Laduma Ngxokolo was inspired by the Xhosa initiation ceremonies and sought to create garments that men could wear when attending these traditional ceremonies.

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soleRebels Handmade Eco-Friendly African Shoes

] Zenabwork, a small village community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is crafting some seriously funky footwear using 100% locally sourced materials. soleRebels is all about original sustainable footwear, exuding the same coolness that is attached to brands like Nike and Adidas. Pro ‘trade not aid’ the award-winning African shoes business is working to break the chains of dependency on aid, instead aiming to get people into work by creating jobs within the local community – which are often scarce. Founded in 2004 by Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, soleRebels has sought to harness the skills of local artisans by creating a sustainable, fair-trade footwear company […]

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Roubi L’Roubi’s Sharp Tailoring With A Modern Sensibility

[Image credit: Roubi L’Roubi] Drawn to the precision of haute couture and tailoring via a background in mechanical engineering, Sudanese fashion designer Roubi L’Roubi came to the UK from Sudan in the early 1980’s and after a stint with Joseph and a partnership with designer Tomasz Starzewski, launched his own label Roubi L’Roubi in 2004.

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Ozwald Boateng Savile Row Tailoring

[Image credits: Ozwald Boateng] A well-dressed man in a sharply tailored suit is usually a sight to behold and this area is the forte of Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng, who knows all to well the power of sharp tailoring and attention to detail and is widely credited with introducing Savile Row tailoring to a new generation.

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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
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  • 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