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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chinedesign impresses with TheBravingRitual

I get a lot of emails from designers that want to share their collection. But this email from, Chinedu Ukabam, head designer of Chinedesign, really excited me. His fall/winter collection titled TheBravingRitual is quite frankly the bomb!

Based in Toronto, Canada, Chinedu took his inspiration "from the warrior spirit it often requires to face and conquer the sometimes harsh winters of the Great White North". The collection mixes leather, wax print, Scottish tartan wool and indigo-dyed bogolan fabrics from Mali. This mix is what makes the creations from Chinedesign so unique and innovative. The jacket just looks haute and amazing, the shirt dress cool, stylish and trendy. Have I mentioned that I could imagine wearing every single piece? How do you like the collection?

The lucky ones who live in Toronto: Chinedesign is hosting a Supafrik pop-up event this Sunday, the 21st of September, from 1 pm - 7 pm. Location:
TAC Art/Work Gallery, 568 Richmond Street West, Toronto.

Find out more:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Samson Soboye: "African print is the new paisley"

Samson Soboye opened his store 13 years ago and focused more on traditional African designs and artifacts. That changed with the UK Olympics. He designed dress shirts for men out of African print - and they sold out in minutes. Samson realized he had something here and started to expand the brand. 

This Spring he showcased besides menswear for the first time also women's wear at Africa Fashion Day Berlin which was very well received. Being blessed with a cool name that others would have to make up when creating a brand, Samson isn't worried that the whole African Print bubble is going to burst. For him "African print is the new paisley". 

His store in Shoreditch, one of the relatively new and emerging hipster areas in London that is really worth a visit, is located right opposite the studio from artist Hassan Hajjij.That Samson has a styling background is quite obvious when visiting his store as it is very nicely decorated and an experience in itself. If you stop by during lunch time ask him for the best and most expensive pizza place in the world!

Location of store: 13 Calvert Ave, London E2 7JP 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Playing Dress-up: Duro Olowu SS 2015

How do you like the Spring/Summer 2015 collection from print master Duro Olowu? It looks very much like him - elegant, print-driven. However, more muted and less colorful then his past collections. I really like the dresses in this grey/black/brown/rose print - I wouldn't have associated Spring/Summer with it, rather Autumn/Winter. It looks like something I totally could wear right now together with a leather jacket and boots.

I love the composition of the images. As if we are looking into someones room and observe the lady of the house playing dress-up. The shoes are pretty awesome, too. Just a bummer that most of his dresses start at 1000 USD and beyond.  What is your favorite look?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Interview: MONAA - Sandals inspired by the King of the Ashanti

APiF: Please introduce your brand.
Nana Dabanka: MONAA is the footwear label which my sister Afua and I created in 2013 in homage to our Ashanti heritage. Our sandals are handmade by artisans in Ghana. We use leathers which we source globally and refine the sandals with African-inspired embellishments.
We put our heads together at the end of 2012 and started discussing concepts, designs, branding and most importantly logistics, because the one thing we were very clear about from the onset was that Ghana or, for that matter, an African country, would be our place of production.

APiF: What is special compared to other shoe labels?
Nana: Traditional elements and inspirations are integral part of our designs. For example our slipper "Ahenema" is a modern version of the Ashanti royal slipper. We streamlined the very characteristic sole of the slipper and used modern colors for the uppers, such as electric blue, fuchsia and a cheetah print. Our sandal, "Quick Lady" is embellished with gold beads. These beads are made of bonduc seeds which in Ghana are used to play the traditional board game, Oware.

APiF: What is your professional background. How did you get into fashion / shoe design?
Nana: I am an interpreter by profession and work in the legal field. I studied footwear and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Design. Afua is a banker turned shoe designer and it was for the love of shoes she actually first created MO SAIQUE a ladies footwear brand before setting up MONAA with me.

APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs?
Nana: MONAA is all about our heritage. Our SS15 collection is called "The King's Palace" and is inspired by our childhood fascination with the interior of the palace of the Asantehene, the King of the Ashanti tribe. The metallic leathers and gold ornaments on the sandals symbolize the decadent jewels spilling from the King's treasure chests. The look and feel of the collection is also influenced by other luxe details found in the Asantehene's residence such as animal skins, luxurious rugs that cover the palatial floors and the pom-poms which adorn the royal umbrellas used to shield him from the sun.

APiF: Sisters and Business Partners - a blessing or a curse?
Nana: It's an absolute ble‎ssing because we believe in the same work ethic, are both driven by being punctual, neat and precise in everything we do (that's the German in us). Since we know each other so well, we can be brutally honest about our ideas and vision without offending the other person. Also, Afua is really good with numbers and I am better with words, so we really compliment each other.

Besides, we can talk business all the time and do not have to respect another person's personal time as much. Since we live in different time zones, Afua lives in London and I live in New York, we can literally call each other 24/7 and no-one will be mad. We sometimes have hour-long conference calls at 6am EST while I am still in bed!

APiF: How can readers purchase your products?

Nana: Our collection will be available in select stores and online shopping portals early in Spring 2015. We are also planning pop-up stores and trunk shows, so watch this space for more!

APiF: Any tips for new start-ups in the Fashion Industry?
Nana: It is absolutely crucial to know your customer and remain true to your brand. But you must also have means to fund your business and as a friend of mine once said to me "Always be prepared for success!"

Find out more:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Òkun: Africa-inspired beachwear for the ocean

Flocking to the sea / Crowds of people wait for me / Sea gulls scavenge / Steal ice cream / Worries vanish / Within my dream

The Africa-inspired beachwear label for men Òkun makes me somehow think about my absolute favorite song "The Sea" by Morcheeba. In Yoruba Òkun means Ocean. 

The label was created by Bola Marquis who left the corporate world to create a contemporary Africa-inspired fashion brand for men. The label offers canvas shoes and swim shorts that can also be worn away from the beach and for example on the golf course. The prints are custom made and an interpretation of traditional fabrics like Congolese Kuba, Kenyan Kikoy and African Wax prints. I love the aesthetic of the brand and especially the wallpaper!

How do you like the shoes and swim shorts?

Find out more:
i: @okunbeachwear

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Return of the Rudeboy: Some of my favorite pics

Photos by Dean Chalkley and Harris Elliott
One of the best exhibitions I have seen this year: Return of the Rudeboy. I was lucky to be in London early August for AFWL and went with some friends to check-out the exhibit at Somerset House. It was my first time at Somerset House and it is a great location so I can only urge everyone to go. The exhibit was inspiring and super interesting. I hope it will start touring!

From the exhibition text: "An urban journey that reflects the cultural heritage of the Rudeboy phenomenon: born in Jamaica, revived in mod and 2 Tone subculture, and culminating in the manifestations documented. (...) Rudeboys and Rudegirls are (...) visual commentators expressing attitude, individuality and integrity through their personal style and mind set."

Did you see it? Know any Rudeboys or Rudegirls yourself?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kibonen NY presents her SS2015 collection at NY Fashion Week

Kibonen NY will present her SS2015 collection titled Multifarious at NY Fashion Week on Tuesday, September 9th at 8 pm. Kibonen Nfi was selected by the Art Institutes of NYC to show at fashion week and joins the list of only a few designers of African heritage like Deola Sagoe and David Tlale who will show their collections in NY this September.

Her Multifarious collection is colorful, fun, trendy and combines African prints with her own textile creations. I love the crop top and the green dress - what is your favorite?

Find out more:


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