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Zyne Turning Traditional Babouches Into Modern Moroccan Footwear

Babouches are a Moroccan slipper style of footwear. In their traditional form, they can be found in abundance in souks across the country. A favourite of tourists, babouches have now made the transition from colourful travel mementos to high fashion having turned up on the international catwalks in recent years courtesy of local designers such as Zineb Britel and Laura Pujol founders of the luxury footwear brand, ZYNE who are tapping into their heritages to modernise and elevate the Moroccan footwear.  

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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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Monaa Luxury African Inspired Shoes Made In Ghana

Nothing says summer more than a pair of comfortable, yet chic sandals. And, with the summer holidays having officially started in this part of the world, many a pair will have been tucked away into luggage bound for sun soaked destinations. And, whether or not you are going away for the holidays, every wardrobe needs a pair or two, or three… So just in time for summer, July has seen the launch of Monaa, a stylish collection of luxury African inspired shoes comprising leather sandals and slippers made in Ghana. [Main image credit: Princess Slipper in blue – Monaa]

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Stylish Heels MO SAÏQUE Luxury Handcrafted Footwear

Afua Dabanka is a woman after my own heart, she just loves her some shoes, with the difference being that whilst I just drool over whatever fabulousness comes my way, she gets to design and make them under her luxury handcrafted footwear label MO SAÏQUE. A banker turned footwear designer, Afua was born in Germany to Ghanaian parents and now resides in London, where MO SAÏQUE is based. [Images Credits: Hakuun, Miami Beat Collection – MO SAÏQUE]

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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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Schier Shoes Herero Vellies Advertising Campaign

Lately, the unique style of Namibia’s Herero Women has been the inspiration for several fashion collections, and a recent advertising campaign for a range of vellies by Namibian footwear maker, Schier Shoes brought a smile to my face, its embracement of this spirit of individuality and enjoyment of life whatever your age and wherever you are. Based in Swakopmund, Namibia, the company Herbert Schier has been manufacturing Velskoen shoes since 1938. Although mainly associated with Namibia and South Africa, those from the Southern African region will be familiar with Veldskoen’s or ‘Vellies’ as they are more commonly known, a type of rugged […]

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Fashion Designer Mimi Plange Manolo Blahnik Partnership

[Image credits: top, Manolo Blahnik for Mimi Plange; bottom, Mimi Plange – Spring/Summer 2012] Spring has sprung; record-breaking temperatures and the clocks going forward over the weekend, got me thinking its high time I dusted of my strappy sandals, as well as dreaming of adding a few more to the collection. Being able to create that perfect pair of shoes to accessories that perfect outfit is I suspect a dream for many a budding fashion designer; and is one that was realised by fashion designer Mimi Plange, who partnered with legendary footwear designer Manolo Blahnik to create two pairs of custom-designed shoes to […]

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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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Zoom Shoes Modern South African Footwear Brand

As a young woman coming-of-age in mid 90’s Zimbabwe, magazine’s coming in from South Africa like True Love, Cosmopolitan, Fair Lady and Elle helped to shape and influence my dreams and growing identity in the world of adulthood. Typical of girls all over the world, each month my friends and I would buy and share the latest copies, discussing the trends and features in relation to our own lives. At the time South Africa was going through an incredible and much long awaited period of change, inevitably causing a ripple effect that had an impact across it’s borders, and we […]

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Designer Rupert Sanderson Inspired By Africa Shoes Collection

I know I said don’t get me started on Rupert Sanderson shoes when I profiled his protégé, footwear designer Liam Fahy; but they found me! I came across the Rupert Sanderson Resort 2012 Shoe Collection on Fashionologie whilst following a link trail; and instantly falling in love with the gorgeous Kibo wedge I just had to pause and have a look at the rest. [Image source: Kibo Wedge – Rupert Sanderson Resort 2012 – fashionologie]

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Aspiga Stylish Hand Made In Kenya Leather Sandals

I’ve just painted my toenails in the most delicious, sizzling hot shade of fuchsia pink. So vibrant and electric it screams summer, and in the sunlight literally hums against my skin tone; apt given that the shade is named ‘Pulsating’. I’m loving the colour just as much as I’m loving the gorgeous and very coquettish looking Cobra sandals by Aspiga that are hand made in Kenya. Available in gold, silver, bronze, black and brown they are a perfect match and a very stylishly embellished summer accessory whether peeking out of maxi dresses or coiling seductively around bare ankles. The Cobra sandal with its […]

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Luella Contemporary South African Fashion Shoe Brand

I am on the prowl for a pair of wedges for summer. I covet these knotted espadrille wedges by contemporary South African fashion shoe brand Luella. I know I could find something similar on the British Highstreet, but that’s not the point…I like them. Being a fussy shopper I don’t tend to buy on impulse, I’m happy to browse going back and checking an item until I am satisfied and then purchasing, if it is no longer available then… oh well its on to the next thing. [Image credits: Knotted Espadrilles – Luella on Flickr]

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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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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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Wola Nani South African Artisans And FitFlop Collaborate

Not being sporty, I do however like to walk whenever possible and the warmer weather brings with it more chances to get out and about and hopefully get fit in the process. FitFlop with its unique Microwobbleboard™ midsole technology offers busy women a way to squeeze a bit of exercise into their day whilst going about their daily lives; and have proved very popular. In conjunction with NET-A-PORTER and the South African artisans of Wola Nani cooperative, launching today is a limited edition FitFlop called the Manyano Sandal. [Image credit: FitFlop – Manyano Sandal / NET-A-PORTER]

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Bettye Muller African Print Shoes on Anthropologie

[Image credit: Bettye Muller] Just stopped by Anthropolgie online and came across African print shoes, covered platform espadrilles. Called ‘Reaching For Light’ the strappy shoes were designed by New York native Bettye Muller. Whilst the espadrilles are definitely African inspired, the silk print on the clogs, although not explicitly attributed to African print, still reminded me of wax cloth print. It is not the first time Bettye Muller has created African print shoes, followers of African fashion may be familiar with the wooden heeled wedges below from a previous collection a few years back. [Image credit: Bettye Muller] …and these equally gorgeous platform clogs with a […]

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Sseko Designs Uganda Fashionable Shoes Made In Africa 

Sandals that help turn dreams into reality. Designing shoes made in Africa Sseko Designs is a sandal making company based in Kampala, Uganda; enabling young women to earn money to then fund their dreams of achieving a university education. Sseko Designs was set up by Liz, an American, who visited Uganda after graduating college in 2008. Whilst in Uganda Liz met the young women of the Cornstone community who were receiving their education through the Cornstone Leadership Academy. From what I understand the Ugandan education system has a gap of nine-months between completing secondary school and entering university, this is intended to allow students […]

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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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  • 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