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Copyright ® 2011-2014 African Prints in Fashion LLC

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Pushing the Boundaries of African Fabrics" - Oilcloth Bags from UGO

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs. 
Ugonna Hosten: UGO is a design-led fashion accessories label; our priority is quality and innovation. We are market leaders offering limited editions of oilcloth bags made from traditional African fabrics.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?                                 
Ugonna: A trip to Nigeria in 2007 reignited my love for Ankara fabrics, it got me thinking of ways in which you could carry a piece of Africa around with you. I began experimenting with African fabrics to see how far I can push the boundaries. Some results were successful, others where very labor intensive but all in all I ended up with lots of interesting products.

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?                  Ugonna: I’m hoping it is not just a trend and it has some longevity. The last couple of years has seen a peak with fashion designers using African fabrics in unique and exciting ways.

APiF: What inspires u? 
Ugonna: I’m inspired by a melting pot of things like art and literature, but I’m mainly inspired by music. From the likes of old school hip-pop artists like Tribe Called Quest, Black star, The Roots, Slum Village, Common as well as African music from the late great Fela Kuti. I’m also into Indie music and listen to Vampire Weekend, Bombay Bicycle club and Mumford and Sons. They are usually blurring in the background whilst I’m working.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why? 
Ugonna: My favorite fashion find is this necklace I purchased at a festival; it’s a reminder that we are all here with a purpose. My goal in life is to continually explore my gifts, nurture and share it.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience? 
Ugonna: Being online and using social networking mediums such as facebook and Twitter makes my label accessible globally, we also ship internationally. We have taken part in a few festival and design shows in the UK so we get to meet most of our clients face to face which I thoroughly enjoy. In the near future we intend to approach some retailers abroad to ensure we have a physical presence also.

APiF: What are the challenges of offering designs via an online shop? 
"My favorite fashion find"
Ugonna: As an online independent retailer a real challenge is visibility. Once you’ve overcome that hurdle, the next step is about finding a way to retain prospective customers that visit your site.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry? 
Ugonna: Write a business plan. No matter how small the business is, the act of writing your ideas and goals down makes it a lot more concrete; it helps in staying focused and it’s easier to assess your progress.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

PrintPresents: Africa-inspired Gift Guide for the Holidays

Necklace - one of the gift ideas from 'Catch a Vibe'
At least in the US, the holiday season starts right after Thanksgiving. Since all the lights are now up in the streets and windows, I am slowly getting into the holiday spirit. One of my favorite, most cheesy and corny Christmas songs ever that I love listening to is Mary's Boy from Boney M. - let me know how you like it!

Notebook - another item from the gift guide
If you are looking for Africa-inspired gifts under $80 (£50), check out the Holiday Gift Guide from online-magazine Catch a Vibe.  
The UK magazine that covers everything around Black arts and entertainment has selected 28 gifts with "a direct link to Africa by way of their designers or inspiration". The guide offers accessories, books, pillows, bags - you name it. So if you are on the gift hunt, this collection might be a helpful inspiration.

Find out more: 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dress Me Up!

Next weekend is the annual Holiday Party from Kevin Powell that I am really looking forward to. Not just because of the usually great music and interesting crowd, but also because it will be a nice opportunity to get dressed-up! Which of the dresses below would you like to wear when going to a trendy party?

Clockwise: Jewel by Lisa, Boxing Kitten, Yellow dress/designer unknown,  blue&red dress Kachi Designs

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nónó Moda: Showcasing the Beauty of Africa

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Nónó Moda: Nónó Moda is a business made by a mother and a daughter in love with African prints. We make anything you want with the right African taste. 


APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Nónó Moda: About 3 years ago, when I finished my fashion design studies, I started to build my own collection inspired by Africa. People loved it so much that we continued using African fabrics. 

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Nónó Moda: We have costumers from around the world - especially from Angola, London and France - and since we are on facebook, people from all around the world are getting to know us. 
   
 













APiF: What is your favorite piece in your current collection?
Nónó Moda: The blazers and the jumpsuits because they are a clear example of what we stand for: Classic and European pieces in African prints. This showcases to everybody the beauty of Africa.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Nónó Moda: The fashion industry can be really hard and difficult to get in, so you should be strong and never let people take you down or say you can't do nothing. When we believe in something - that's all we need to start!

Find out more:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Bringing out the Colorful Goddess in every Woman": Interview with the Designer of the Label Eki Orleans

Thalassa Dress
APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Hazel Aggrey-Orleans: Eki Orleans is a dynamic women's wear label known for its bold vibrant prints and soft silhouette. The Eki Orleans brand strives to accentuate femininity and bring out the colorful goddess in every woman.
 
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics? 
Hazel: I started in 2007 with a collection of scarves. It was never on my agenda to go into fashion, but when you are pregnant your mind goes crazy and you start getting all these creative juices flowing in. I knew I wanted to do something where I could bring in my own cultural mixes. And what better way to do this than the art of fashion, as it allows me to bring in my own cultural interpretations of life. 

Being half Nigerian, I have grown up around the beautiful Ankara fabrics. I wanted to play with African fabrics, but by entering into this competitive market, I knew I had to do something different. I love the feel of silk fabrics and so I thought "why not try the combination of silks and African prints?". So we decided to design our own prints by drawing inspiration from Ankara prints and using the luxurious textures of silk. A great combo!

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Hazel: It is amazing to see the growing versatility of African prints/fabrics and how creatively the designers are starting to use these textiles. This is how you distinguish between a designer and a tailor. 
Spring/Summer 2012

APiF: What inspires u? 
Hazel: My many travels and my kids.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Hazel: The Thalassa dress, as it brings out the curves in all the right places, whether you have them or not. 

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Hazel: We market them by speaking to buyers at Trade Shows. We were recently at Paris Fashion Week trade show and this is a great way to engage with buyers and also get some feedback. 

Another necessity is to continuously be speaking to the press and getting the dresses published in magazines and on blogs, as well as lending them out to people in the limelight. This all creates a buzz and a desire for the consumer to buy a dress. We also make them accessible by having them stocked in retail stores as well as in numerous online boutiques.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Hazel: You need to be 100% passionate about making this work as it is a tough industry. You have to have a thick skin as people will criticize your designs - but use this as good criticism to improve your designs. Secondly, you need to make sure, you have secured funding for the first 3 collections at least. Do not expect to come out with one collection and sell. Buyers want to see consistency and growth.

Find out more: 
http://www.ekiorleans.com
http://twitter.com/Eki_Orleans
Eki Orleans on Facebook

Friday, November 18, 2011

Prints of the Week: Ladies who Travel in Style

Boxing Kitten -Designs from their Fall 2009 Collection! Wow, 2 years ago and it still looks pretty stylish and trendy to me!

"Trendy Designs for all Occasions": Ghanaian Accessories Label Roots

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Naa: At Roots our vision is creating fashion accessories using African fabrics and African embellishments like beads, twine, etc. Our designs range from brooches, corsages, hair-bands, rings, embellished flip-flops, embellished raffia bags, hair clips and more. All our creations are hand-made.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
 
Naa: We are 10 months old and it has been an amazing journey. My vision is to promote Ghanaian textiles in a different light to the world. Most people focus on the design of clothing and I simply identified a gap in fashion accessories, so I decided to bridge that gap. It is about time that we Ghanaians start making what we wear and show the world the beauty of our textiles and embellishments.

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Naa: It is an exciting time for the African fabric because some years back, Ghanaians only wore Ghanaian textiles to church and funerals. But it’s so beautiful to see the awesome trendy designs created for all occasions!


APiF: What inspires u?
Naa: God. Sometimes an idea just pops into my mind and I know it is God, who is the Master of Creativity, giving me this idea. Once I get started on it, the end result is beautiful.


APiF: How do you market your designs?   
Naa: Social media is my marketing tool and it is really powerful. I am using Facebook and Twitter to showcase my creations and so far it has been very effective.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Naa: I made a rolled roses hair-band and it took me about an hour to finish. The hair-band is beautiful in its simplicity.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry? 
Naa: I see myself to be a new designer as well and I have met some challenges along the way, but by the grace of God I am still at it. As a new designer, use the power of the internet to market yourself and to discover new trends in fashion. It is important to also network with other designers to get fresh eyes on ideas etc. and also don’t hold back on your creativity. Create a niche for yourself and be the initiator of a fashion trend!

Find out more about Roots:
http://ganyobinaa.com/
https://twitter.com/#!/ganyobinaa
https://www.facebook.com/Rootsgh?sk=wall

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Creating Eccentric and Inventive Fashion" - Interview with Designer GloRia Wava Munno

Autumn/Winter 2011
APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
GloRia Wava Munno: The mission of my label is to fuse the diverse and vibrant world of African culture, texture, fabric and print with the creation of timeless and inventive, eccentric fashion pieces.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
GloRia: I've just had this weird fascination for African prints and fabrics from quite an early age that I didn't understand then. I found the fabric to be just so different. Now, being older, I realize that I connect with anything different and it speaks to me. So of course, the fabrics triggered me to think "how would I want to wear that?" and the process began. 

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Gloria: Well, it is nice that African prints are being acknowledged, and it is interesting to see what other people are doing with it globally.

APiF: Is African Print in the fashion industry here to stay? 
Spring/Summer 2012
GloRia: I believe so, even though I understand if it's seen as a trend right now. Due to the heavy visual effects, prints are harder to be defined as classic, and everyone knows 'classic' stays in trend. But I think there is so much to the fabric that has yet to be understood and seen. Even now, I am still working my way through it. Maybe that's why I love African fabrics. The prints are challenging me to figure out all possibilities. So, one might find them 'classic'.

APiF: What inspires u?
GloRia: I am intrigued by many things; from people, art to music. These are probably my top 3 inspirations. But I am inspired by things everywhere. I like learning and finding beauty in all its many places, and through that I find my inspiration. What touches me then provokes me.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
GloRia: It is probably my sunglasses and specs collection. I have all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. I have been finding them in all the big and small places I have been lucky enough to travel to. Regarding my latest collection, entitled Mensch/Unmensch, I'm loving the rough leather vest jacket and the suede brown chain dress.

Spring/Summer 2012
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
GloRia: At the moment I have a boutique in Kampala, Uganda. I also do a lot of online activity from my facebook business page GloRia WavaMunno, twitter account @GloRiaWavaMunno and my website, http://www.gloriawavamunno.com/. And I'm working on an online store that should be up by the end of this year. Before that, I was taking personal orders via email. But now that I'm expanding, the online store will be my access to the world! 

APiF: Any tips for new designers in the fashion industry? 
GloRia: It is a challenging business, because it moves so fast and now it has taken on another level of speed due to social media. But I am a big believer in passion, and that it will get you through the difficult times. If you believe in your art, learn and push yourself, people will notice that and support will come where it is needed. The world is very global now. Also, patience is not a bad thing.

Spring/Summer 2012

Find out more:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Outerwear: Africa-inspired Coats for the Chilly Season

"I feel it's getting cold, I think I buy a coat". This is a cool song where I unfortunately only remember the hook line, but nothing much else. Here are some fab coats made out of African cloth and Africa-inspired prints. Great colors to print-up the chilly season. Which coat do you like best?



Clockwise: Fati Asibelua, Sika Designs, Ohema Ohene, Duro Olowu

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In the Mix: Je Suis Combines American and West African Influences

Half&Half Dress
APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.  
Senami Atinkpahoun: Je Suis is an up and coming fashion line created by myself and my best friend Deonna Spence.

We were both thinking about starting up our own lines and it just made sense to do it together. The summer of 2010 was when we actually started sketching and sewing and since then we've been asked to do a whole bunch of fashion shows and photo shoots. Its been a great journey and we are excited to see where things take us next. We started the line when we were 17 and now we are 18, so the line is growing and maturing just as we are.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Senami: The use of African prints is a reflection of culture. We usually mix traditional Ankara with solids to create modern and creative pieces. I was born in Benin, West Africa, and I have always been fascinated with our fabric. It was always different and so bold. My partner on the other hand is American, so the way we use fabric reflects both of our cultures, especially the "Half&Half" dresses or skirts that we make. They are Half&Half because both of us make up Je Suis.

APiF: What inspires u?
Senami: The possibility of tomorrow is something that inspires the both of us. Knowing that there is another opportunity to do more, better, to grow, and learn. No matter what we achieve, the possibility of tomorrow keeps us wanting to go harder. 
We tend to be inspired by anything. I could be walking down the street and see a leaf fall and think of an idea or be in the middle of a conversation and a sketch pops up in my head. I love creativity and beauty and I get inspired a lot by Africa itself. So many great and beautiful things come from Africa and being from there makes me want to flaunt it. 

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Senami: The Je Suis Signature Half & Half Dress. It is one of our most popular pieces. The design, cut, down to the color coordination is one of the best. I believe it also reflects Deonna and I as business partners. Her American influences as well as my African background mixes together in this piece. It also reflects our brand in the sense that the piece is colorful, sexy, creative, unique, versatile, and can be anything from casual to couture. 

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience? 
Senami: Starting out we used facebook to showcase our designs and gradually, we began doing fashion shows and branching out. Je Suis has a Model Mayhem account as well as Tumblr, which is one of my favorite places to post our work, because there is so much creativity on Tumblr. People are interested in what we're doing and we also learn from others. We also have an online store. 

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Senami: I would advise new designers to make connections and build strong relationships. Being up and coming is not always an easy thing. There are so many amazing designers who have been at it for years and breaking in is a very hard thing to do. So I would advise anyone starting up to be persistent. Take advantage of as many opportunities as possible and try to have a solid following. When people are able to recognize your brand or logo, or even your name, you are doing something right. And NETWORK! 

Find out more:
http://jesuisnyc.tumblr.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/jesuisnyc
https://www.facebook.com/Jesuisnyc

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

46664 - Nelson Mandela Rebrands Fashion!

Image from shadders.net
Nelson Mandela, former prisoner, freedom-fighter and President of South Africa, started his own fashion label 46664, which is also the name of his non-profit-organization. The name is a combination of his prison number and the year he was incarcerated.
I have to admit, that Nelson Mandela and fashion seemed liked an unlikely combination to me at first. But to quote from the 46664 website: "We ourselves were branded in prison. Who would have imagined that this once negative number could one day be a brand that instead celebrates beauty?" 
So now fashionistas can wear great outfits, support a good cause with the purchase and become a narrator of the brand's story. That's what I call Feel-Good Fashion!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"It is okay to Bee funky sometimes" - Interview with Bee Arthur, Designer of the Afro-Cosmopolitan Label B’EXOTIQ

"It's okay to BEE funky sometimes"
APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs: 
Bee Arthur: B’EXOTIQ is an eclectic line of chic clothing which reflects my multi-cultural background. 

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Bee Arthur: I have been in fashion since 1995. It was a hobby and a way to personalise clothes I bought in boutiques. Plus, I was frustrated that at the time no one made funky and well finished clothes in Ghana, for a funky and stylish girl like myself. By 2001, I won the Kora Fashion Award for my colorful but elegant approach to Afro-Cosmopolitan fashion.
 

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Bee Arthur: I am really happy about this trend. Today, African print is no more associated with older folks or traditional events. The funky African crowd now eagerly wears African prints as compared to 10 - 15 years ago. The new fabrics have appealing colors and fun designs, and designers are doing lovely things with them.
 

APiF: Is African Print in the fashion industry here to stay?
Bee Arthur: There seems to bee some sort of re-awakening and consciousness of one's origins amongst the African youth. If the manufacturers keep coming up with exciting cloth and the designers do their magic, this trend will continue for a while. But the nature of fashion is such that what is hot today, is not tomorrow. We can only hope, that this fascination stays with us for some time.
 

APiF: What inspires u?
Bee Arthur: Everything! African cloth, European clothes, Asian fabrics, paintings, sculptures, flowers, insects, fruits.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why? 

Bee Arthur in her red tunic with Matryoshkas
Bee Arthur: I really love to make very colorful clothes, but personally I wear a lot of white and black. I love my white lace blouse that I made years back but it's never outmoded. I also love my red tunic with Russian nested dolls (Matryoshkas) embroidered on the back and with motifs from mud cloth (bogolan) in front. I love these items because they are not necessarily trendy, but they are stylish and they always look "actuel".

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?

Bee Arthur: I have very select and loyal customers who have been with me for many years. They always send their friends and colleagues to my shop. I post my clothes on my web site and I use my professional page on facebook to market my clothing line. I also participate in fairs and fashion shows across the globe. I am working on retailing in Paris next year. And hopefully, someone who is reading your blog will get in touch!

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
 
Bee Arthur: Know the difference between being a seamstress and a designer. A designer is a poet. Designers must tell their own story through their clothes, not replicate someone else's verses. They must constantly seek inspiration, but never imitate. That, plus fine finishing and attention to detail, is the key to success.

Find out more about B'EXOTIQ:
www.facebook.com/bexotiq
www.bq.awuraba.com

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