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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The comeback of the Espadrille

Check out this unisex Espadrille, titled OH!SAM, by Ohema Ohene. I am not quite sure how I feel about the Espadrille comeback. How about you? Will your rock some Espadrilles on your feet this Summer?

Uzo Vn: "Designs for the fashion forward, modern woman"

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Vivienne Nwosu: Uzo Vn is a women's wear boutique brand catering to the trendy and fashion forward, modern women.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Vivienne: I started designing with African print back in 2004/2005 when I was studying fashion in university. I loved African print, but at the time, all I could really wear it for in London was to parties. But having said that, I also loved the really trendy stuff in Western culture too, so I guess that’s where the combination came from.



APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Vivienne: I absolutely love this dress (right hand side), because it is simple yet complex. The colors are vibrant, the print is gorgeous and it is ideal for parties and going out to a restaurant or social event - very multifunctional and fashionable. I also love that it gives you curves by taking your waist in. That’s the magic combination for me.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Vivienne: My collection is specifically designed to cater to a global market. Although I use African print within my design, it still caters to a global market. This collection and future collections will be available on my website http://www.uzovn.com/ February 3rd and I will also be selling on a new website called stylesafrik. The Autumn/Winter collection will further expand to more accessible and mainstream websites but I won’t give too much away, as I am still in discussion about that.
 

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Vivienne: Know your stuff, keep up with current trends even if you aren’t a trend designer and also be confident about your designs. This is one of the toughest industries to break into, so you must be at the top of your game to overcome it.

Find out more:
f: Like Uzo Vn on facebook

Monday, January 30, 2012

Prints of the week: Stylish in Kente




Get a royal touch with the Kente-incorporated designs from The Hemma Collection. I really like the jacket and the skirt. 
They are just right to rock some prints in the office.
Which outfit do you like best?

Find out more:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Fresh, Chic & Fun": Interview with the label Kipusa

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Anne Mpinga: Kipusa is a term in Swahili that means "beautiful young lady". My designs are fresh, chic and fun. Kipusa is a label that aims to drape a woman's curves flawlessly. My style has been heavily influenced by great African women such as Lira, a musician from South Africa, whose style is simply sophisticated. I would love to put my clothes on her any day.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
On the right: Designer Anne Mpinga
Anne: After being part of the organizing team for the first annual Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Addis Ababa, I left feeling like it was time for me to do something about my talents. I didn't want to be the person inviting international African designers to showcase their collection on the catwalk. I wanted to be the international African designer invited to showcase her collection. 
I have always had a passion for fashion, and it was only a matter of time before I quit my job in the communications field to pursue my dreams. I started designing with prints, because I have always loved bold colors. I like the extra pizzazz that printed fabrics can add to an otherwise dull item in one's closet. I have turned so many of my outfits around and the results are always wonderful. Kipusa was official born in March 2011 when I came out with my first collection. A second collection is in the works.

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints trend? Is it here to stay?
The 70's inspired flared jumpsuit
Anne: African prints have always been a hot trend, it has just taken the world a long time to discover this. I have been walking around in beautiful printed clothes for as long as I could remember and then voila, a famous designer uses this fabric and all of a sudden it is a must have trend. I believe the trend of using prints is here to stay, as long as the designers adhere to the changing trends and don't become redundant.

APiF: What inspires u?
Anne: Love, friends, color, passion, art, my mom, curvy silhouettes, music....

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Anne: My absolute favorite in my first collection is this 70's inspired flared jumpsuit. Most women used to complain that because they are curvy, they can't wear jumpsuits. I created this design to prove them wrong.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Anne: I have been working on an online store that will be up and running in the next few weeks so my designs will be accessible.  I have also partnered with two websites, one in the U.K and another in the U.S to make sure that people can access my designs abroad. I would be more than happy to have my collection picked up by a buyer out there, so all this is in the works.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Anne: I would say do your research and do it well. Always stay on top of your game and do not overlook any detail of your work. Clients are sensitive and every time your client puts on your outfit, you want to hear WOW! Also, love what you do and do what you love, and the success will come.

Find out more:
f: Like Kipusa on facebook
t: https://twitter.com/#!/Kipusamoja

Friday, January 27, 2012

Prints of the week: Bangili Jangili

Bangili Jangili - self-claimed accessories junkies label from Down Under - are creating designs in vibrant colors and with African prints. I definitely need some BJ in my closet - how about you?
 BJ shop

BJ Blog

BJ on facebook

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Uniqueness, Comfort, Colors & Prints: Designs by Nakimuli

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Tennille McMillan: My clothing line is Nakimuli. I make clothing that embrace individuality, comfort, and most importantly, fun!
  
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Tennille: When I first started designing clothing, I worked for a designer who used a lot of African prints and fabrics. And I think from there, I subconsciously started using them in my designs. But I like using them to show people that African prints/fabrics are fun and versatile just like any other fabric.

APiF: What inspires you?
Tennille: Many things inspire me: the weather, colors, shapes... But I would say music is a big inspiration: different types of music inspires me to designs different pieces.

The Lee Leggings
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Tennille: I would say the Lee Leggings, which is also one of our best sellers. I love them because they embody everything Nakimuli is about: uniqueness, comfort, bright colors, and prints.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Tennille: I really don't do as much marketing as I would like, but I have been fortunate that word of mouth has and continues to carry me far. In addition to having my own site, www.nakimuli.com, I also sell on Etsy, which helps me attract more global customers. 

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Tennille: Yes! 1 - Have a strong support system of positive friends, family, mentors, etc. They will help you keep going during challenging times. 2 - Be unique and distinctive; whether it is your actual product or your marketing strategies, etc. You want people to remember you and to continue to support you.

Find out more

What I need

I NEED these print-leggings from American Apparel. They will look just great with boots or booties and a thin, greenish cargo jacket.
How do you like these leggings?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prints for your feet: Which shoes would u wear?

From top left: Suno, Nónó Moda, River Island, Urban Outfitter (bottom left)



Wearing shoes in vibrant prints and bold colors can enhance any outfit and also turn a black office outfit into a more edgy and funky look for fun activities after work. I love the boots from Nónó Moda, but they are way too high for me. I have to admit that I am more kind of a wedges person when it comes to heels. Love! the summer shoes from River Island. Which shoes do you like best?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Celebrating Color: Orange Culture

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Adebayo Oke-Lawal: My label is called Orange Culture, a unisex label that celebrates people with colorful dispositions. 

APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs?
Adebayo: My designs are inspired by experiences of mine and the environment that surrounds me, its sourced from who I am as a person - which without a doubt is connected to my African heritage. I'm not the most outright African person, but a love for my heritage is definitely shown in my designs. It is shown in the Ankara print, which I absolutely adore, but it is mixed with more adventurous and not so Afrocentric cuts and shapes. 

APiF: How do u feel about the current trend regarding all things "African"?
Adebayo: The African influence has always been and will always be present in the creative industry. As Africa is so rich in culture and rich in possible influences, it excites me that its diversity isn't only recognized locally. But international brands such as Burberry and Prada have also taken it up.
  
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
The green chiffon and ankara pants
Adebayo: My favorite piece in my collection are the green chiffon and ankara pants. It is very eclectic, very suited for the Nigerian weather (it is as light as air) and very Orange Culture.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Adebayo: I wear Orange Culture literally everywhere, lol, and it is on as many sites and in as many magazines as possible. We also have a website www.orange-culture.com and are working on stocking in stores online and otherwise, that have a global clientele.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Adebayo: Just be sure it is your passion, because that's what will push you through the many difficult times. Be original, Be you.

Find out more:
w: http://www.orange-culture.com/

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Limited Edition: Novelty bags from Tcharakoura

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Chantal Ali-Keke Roland Valmy: Tcharakoura is a line of bags that was created at the beginning for myself and a couple of friends. After the massive positive response, I launched the line and developed the signature trend of my bags - novelty bags in limited edition. From there it took off and I am now doing clothes as well with the same concept.

APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs?
Chantal: Tcharakoura is not only inspired by my heritage or culture but by my life and my travels. It goes beyond the design or the use of African printed material. The line adapts itself to your envy and personal world.

APiF: How do u feel about the current trend regarding all things "African"?
Chantal: I think that the African fashion trend is opening more and more globally. The days of the pagne or boubou are over. Now the African printed material is used differently. You see a lot of pencil skirts, day dresses etc. The designs have become more modern.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Chantal: My favorite piece in my closet and collection is the reversible jacket. I love the pattern and the inside material. You can wear it in two ways, so it blends easily with your outfit. It is something that can cross-over seasons, as you can wear it during autumn and winter and it looks very feminine.


APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
The reversible jacket
Chantal: At the moment the line is accessible in Paris, France, and from end of January on in London, UK, at www.didouboutique.com

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Chantal: Never get discouraged, always persevere and the most important is to have faith in yourself and your designs. 

Find out more:



Friday, January 20, 2012

Making a bold fashion statement with Wambui Mukenyi

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Wambui Mukenyi: I am a fashion designer from Kenya. I started in 2009 and have been steadily growing my brand since. My designs cater to the young professionals, to women who are bold enough to make a fashion statement.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Wambui: In the beginning, I used African fabrics predominantly. But now I have diversified and I am using other fabrics, too. I love African prints because they make any design pop with the fabulous colors that most fabrics come in.



APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Wambui: "I love this piece"
Wambui: I love this piece that I made for my first commercial collection, it was a huge success according to my standards.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Wambui: At the moment I am doing online marketing, but I am planning to expand that and to do more ad campaigns, so that my brand gets noticed by a wider audience. I have an actual shop in Kenya and people can also buy directly from my website www.wambuimukenyi.com

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Wambui: Creativity is key and also being consistent with your brand, good marketing also plays a big part in making your brand known out there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Prints of the week: BluePrints from Ariike Alden

I love simple dresses that make a complete outfit by just adding some accessories. This one-piece from designer Ariike Alden seems to be cut nicely, so that no belt is needed to avoid looking boxy. The dress makes me wish for Spring! Now!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elegance and Simplicity: The new collection from the label Mina Evans

This is my favorite piece - doesn't it look glam?
Check out the new Spring/Summer 2012 collection from Mina Evans. “Terra Firma” (=Latin for firm or solid ground), so the name of the collection, is reflected in the earthy, brown-orange colors and the tie dye prints.

"Terra Firma" aims to combine "elegance and simplicity without compromising on style and glamour". 

If you want to see the Mina Evans Team in action, watch the short "behind the scene" video of their fashion shoot. 


Which design do you like best? I already picked my favorite design: the orange-blue combo with the long beads in the front. 

Find out more:
 w:http://www.minaevansonline.com/
  f: https://www.facebook.com/MinaEvans 

    t: http://twitter.com/#%21/mina_evans
  








Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Side Step: Kitchen Prints

Fashion in the kitchen? No, not really. Whenever ice-cream, coffee and pasta sauce come near me, they usually end up on my clothes. So naturally, I never wear anything fancy in the kitchen. But, that doesn't mean I cannot have a fashionable moment between the stove, the fridge and the sink. 

These cool tea towels from polynation, that my sister brought me as a gift from South Africa, should make dish washing a more fun activity. I really like the print and the colors. So far I haven't used them yet on any dishes, as I don't want my fancy tea towels to get dirty. Go figure!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Designs for women that love print and bold colors": Interview with Pyromaniac by mp

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Michèle Pouani: Pyromaniac by mp is a contemporary line of ladies couture: a mixture of vintage trends infused by a dashing multicultural flame, geared towards the elegantly, stylish multicultural woman. The designs are entirely created and handcrafted with passion in the finest materials at our design studio in Montreal. 

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Michèle: My collections aren't really about African prints but rather about designs inspired by Africa. I make the clothes that I would wear: superior quality, exquisite craftsmanship and tailoring. For the first collection "Be Wear" the choice of batik prints came naturally and it was important for me to mix them with other textures like leather and silk in an attempt to find a balance and present a collection that could appeal to any woman that loves print and bold colors.

APiF: How do you feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Michèle: I personally adore bright colors and bold prints so I find the current ethnic trend very exciting! It is also exciting to see that international designers find interest in our traditional fabric! It's interesting to see the many ways it's been used on the runways! 

APiF: Is African Print in the fashion industry here to stay?
Michèle: Regardless of the African print trend, I believe African fashion is blossoming and I am very proud to see that a new wave of young designers is emerging. It’s very important to note that it goes way beyond that ethnic trend. Instead, it is about quality and luxury, exquisite craftsmanship and tailoring. I believe talent speaks louder than trends. So I think the ethnic trend will go eventually, but the African talent that is emerging right now is definitely here to stay!

APiF: What inspires u?

Michèle: I probably sound cliche but really everything inspires me! I had the chance to live on three continents, so part of my inspiration is drawn from my diverse travels and also from my African heritage. But my greatest inspiration of all is the woman's body! Nothing makes my heart more full than when a real woman puts on my dress and exclaims how amazing she feels in it.
 

My favorite piece: The "Lacey" jacket

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Michèle: Hooo, I love each and every piece I have in my closet. I am not an impulsive buyer so every item I have was carefully picked and has a sentimental value! That's why I have a really hard time getting rid of my clothes! That said, my favorite Pyromaniac by mp piece is the "Lacey" jacket from the "Cosmopolitan" collection! I loooove its mix of textures and colors as well as its sleek tailoring and contrasting piping details!
 

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Michèle: We have had a website www.pyromaniacbymp.com ever since the brand was created, and just opened our online boutique in November for our international customers! The response has been overwhelming and I am feeling very blessed to see that many people around the globe are interested in my designs! We also have a blog www.pyromaniacbymp.blogspot.com where you can get all the updates and outs and abouts of the brand, and of course a facebook page www.facebook.com/pages.pyromaniacbymp!
 

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Michèle: It's only been a year since I launched my first collection and yet I still consider myself as a newcomer in the industry. I wouldn't say it's been hard, but it's been challenging and a great learning curve. I am actually still learning, because turning creativity and passion into a business is not an easy thing to do. So my advice would be to take each challenge one day at a time. Dare, persevere and most importantly: take the time to enjoy doing what you love!

Find out more:
f: Become a fan
w: Check out the website
b: Read the blog
s: shop designs

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Prints of the week: AAMAA à la mode

Stylish costume from the label AAMAA à la mode.
This great, ready-to wear outfit totally fits to my "yeah, it is Saturday" mood. I am usually not a fan of yellow, but here the color combinations work beautifully. Such a pity, it's not part of my closet - yet. Happy weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2012

PrintSeason: Spring/Summer Collections from Marni & River Island

Check-out the amazing colors and prints of the Marni and River Island Spring/Summer 2012 collections. Just looking at the new arrivals from Marni makes me even more eager for the designs of their upcoming collaboration with H&M in March.

The River Island designs are awesome. I used to have them stashed away as "the store just slightly cooler than J.Crew", but the new collection makes me want to hop on a plane to London and go bonkers in one of their stores. Hopefully, most of these items will be available online soon. 

What will land on your 'must have' list?

"The Coolest Man on Earth": New Film on Ozwald Boateng

A movie about Ozwald Boateng, THE British designer of Ghanaian heritage, will hit cinemas in the UK on the 9th of March. "A Man's Story", so the title of the movie, will also be available on DVD from the 19th of March on.
Ozwald Boateng is well known and admired for his innovative, luxury menswear as well as the vibrant colors of his designs. Whenever I see his collections I am jealous of all the men who get to wear his sophisticated designs. Why hasn't the Queen made him a SIR yet? It's long overdue. I will definitely check out the DVD.

Find out more:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Influences from Motown to Ozwald Boateng": Interview with House of Tayo

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.  
Matthew "Tayo" Rugamba: House of Tayo is a fashion label that aims to showcase African sophistication, style and flavor through contemporary, locally made clothing and accessories. With style influences ranging from the Motown era to the works of Ozwald Boateng we seek to combine elegance and class with a strong sense of African heritage and iconography.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Matthew "Tayo": As the Summer of 2011 was winding down, I ventured into the bustling marketplaces of Kigali, Rwanda, with no clear description of what I wanted, but a very clear vision. I had recently completed my second year of college in the United States — yet another year of questions about the food, music, style, culture and the history of my home continent Africa. Dispelling myths and sharing anecdotes of life growing up in various parts of Africa has been an equally enlightening experience for me and for those I share my stories with.

My appreciation for my culture and history became something that I became particularly keen on sharing through pictures, dance, cuisine and anecdotes. The only area I had not touched on was the clothes. And my word do we have such a distinct flair and flavor for fashion! Bright colors and rich fabric with poise and elegance to match—definitely something that you do not see every day elsewhere. One only needs to attend Sunday Mass to get a dose of brilliantly crafted headpieces balanced gracefully atop a woman’s head, or to witness a gentleman waltz through a gravel road as if to test whether a speck of dust has the audacity to rest upon his shoe. So I started to brainstorm ways of capturing African style and iconography in a way that wouldn’t be too overwhelming for people of other cultures to embrace and that’s how I came up with my first pieces—the unisex snood and bowtie combo.

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend? Is it here to stay?
Matthew "Tayo": I would like to argue that it is not a trend because we have been doing it since the early 1900s, but the reality is that on the global stage it is. Louis Vuitton is using vibrant 'Maasai' colors of the 'shuka' for their Menswear spring/summer collection for 2012, and Burberry is using African Print for their Spring/Summer 2012 collection, too. I think that this is fantastic and as African designers and Africans in general we should view this is as window of opportunity. We need to create pieces that will make the fashion world realize that African print is something that should go beyond Summer 2012. It should never be considered "sooo last season". So in short, whether it is here to stay or not depends on our ability to innovate while simultaneously showcasing our rich African culture, heritage and history.

APiF: What inspires u?
Matthew "Tayo": I get inspiration from all over the place, from Markets, to blogs, to issues of GQ to gallery art but my primary source will always be history and culture. I have an obsession of late with the style of the Pan African movement of the late 1950s and 60s. It was the perfect blend of classic western style and African traditional clothing at a time when leaders were trying to stimulate a feeling of nationalism and appreciation for Africa, much like I would like House of Tayo to do. I frequently go through history books to look at how Patrice Lumumba would combine fine tailoring, a bowtie and traditional leopard print accessories, as well as iconic pictures of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghanaian Kente Cloth.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Matthew "Tayo": At the moment it is a combination of a deep red/navy blue/yellow snood and a brown bowtie, both made from African Wax Print. Firstly, they are very versatile pieces and I can easily throw onto many different outfits. Secondly, the colors are very rich, bold and are staples of traditional African clothing. Finally, those were some of the first samples I did, so there is a bit of an emotional attachment.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Matthew "Tayo": Social Media and word of mouth have been my weapons of mass attraction. Tumblr, facebook, twitter are great inexpensive ways of creating a presence and reaching a wide audience. Also, I have used my network of friends and acquaintances to help me create a buzz for House of Tayo

APiF: Any tips for new designers/startups in the fashion industry?
Matthew "Tayo": Well, to be honest I'm a very new designer myself so I am still learning a lot. But from what I have experienced so far, it is very important to have a clear vision and goals for the brand that you are trying to build. If you can articulate what you intend to do and what you expect your brand to communicate, then it is easier to share this vision with others. By starting with the "why" I am doing this rather than the "what" I am doing. I have also created something that I feel a real personal connection to. Whenever I hit an obstacle - as most startups do - I am less likely to bend over and accept defeat.

Find out more:
t: http://twitter.com/HouseOfTayo 
f: https://www.facebook.com/HouseOfTayo
t: http://houseoftayo.tumblr.com/

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Print-Outfits for the Office: What would u wear?

My extended X-Mas holidays are over, and I will have to go back to work tomorrow. In order to brighten up the first day at work and to break the typical all black NY look that I usually end up with, here are some suggestions for colorful print-outfits for the office. 

Which of these outfits would you wear in the office?
 1: Duro Olowu, 2: Saffron, 3: Marni, 4: Jewel by Lisa

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