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    Boutique Fashion News

    Q&A with OwnBrown’s Nadine Ndjoko Peisker

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    We caught up with the stylish, intelligent, creative Nadine Dungu Ndjoko Peisker, the Switzerland-based founder of OwnBrown, the tights brand that loves brown skin. Sapelle is one of OwnBrown’s UK stockists, so we thought we’d fire some questions to Nadine to here about how the brand started.

    Q: Tell us about yourself

    A: I am of Congolese descent, married, with two sons, and I live in Switzerland. I am a lawyer and I worked for the Swiss authorities. My job was pleasant but I wanted to be more creative and to be creative you have to be independant. So I decided to go back to my passion for fashion. As a Congolese, fashion has always played a role in my life. For Congolese people, fashion is a way to express ourselves. Congolese are known for “la sape” and the so-called “sapeurs”. But few people know that it started as a civil rights movement defying the dictator Mobutu’s regime. Wearing certain clothes in the street of Kinshasa meant at that time voicing your opposition to Mobutu’s laws. “La sape” was a way to stay free even under the dictatorship.

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    Q: What inspired you to launch OwnBrown?

    A: Launching Ownbrown wasn’t particularly about my person only. Coming from a professional background as a lawyer, I just felt this to be the right thing to do. I launched this line of products because it mattered to me that brown-skinned women needed to feel represented and involved in the process. Plus, my sense of freedom was at stake. Ownbrown brings to brown-skinned women the freedom to wear what they want whenever they want. They can unleash their radiancy even in winter.

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    Q: What work went into launching the brand? What lessons have you learnt?
    A: I was lucky to be surrounded by passionate professionals who helped me shape Ownbrown as it is right now. We immediately found the brand’s name and the rest fell almost into place.  Of course it’s a back and forth process. We had and still have to really  listen to our customers. It’s hard to know what works in London, Paris or Geneva and find a balance. We learned not to go too fast and not to be afraid of testing things. Nothing is forever and sometimes you have to postpone an idea because it’s not the right time to launch it.

    Q: What does the OwnBrown brand stand for?

    •    Ownbrown is an invitation for all women of colour to rise up, shine, and stand up proudly in their own skin.
    •    Brown-skined women deserve and are looking for quality products. We’ve worked purposely with specialists with Worldford and Fogal R&D’s experience to bring the best range to the market. Every detail has been thoroughly checked out. Ownbrown tights are an affordable Luxury.
    •    People appreciate that our tights last that long and they are feeling involved in the process. Women own their own brown and they are celebrating it with us. Our Instagram is a testimony of that atmosphere of a community coming together.
    Q: Where can women find OwnBrown?

    •    Online on
    •    London at Sapelle’s 281 Portobello Road store and at
    •    In the United States on,, soon skcollection.
    •    In Spain through Afrofeminas
    •    In Switzerland Terre d’Afrique, Africanity, Mwasiyalelo
    •    In France, coming soon to

    Q: What can we look forward to in the future from OwnBrown?

    A:We listen to our customers. It will depend on their feedback. But I can already tell that we are going to launch our knee-highs line. We are really happy about it. They will come in four shade. Knee-highs are also essential accessories.

    OwnBrown are celebrating their launch by offering shoppers 40% for one day only on Black Friday. Don’t miss this opportunity to get your OwnBrown tights at Sapelle’s store and online at


    The Iconic Orange Shweshwe Shift: 1 Dress x 5 Looks

    It’s hard not to fall in love with the Orange Shweshwe Shift Dress. Proudly made in our workshop in Malawi using South African-made heritage textile (also known as Seshweshwe or Seshoeshoe) that has huge cultural significance for the Sotho people. At Sapelle, we’re always on the hunt for the best of African print, and it’s our pleasure to showcase those prints that you can’t find anywhere else on the high street. The vibrant autumnal tones of the Shweshwe print transition effortlessly between seasons, and the timeless silhouette of the shift means you can style it many different ways. Take a look at five looks created by our in-house stylist, just for you this Autumn Fall season.

    orange shweshwe moodboard for casual friday

    Look 1: Relaxed Style on Date Night

    orange shweshwe moodboard for city break

    Look 2: Sunday Lunch at the Country Puborange shweshwe moodboard for party

    Look 3: A Night out in the Cityorange shweshwe moodboard for weekend

    Look 4: Relaxed Weekend trawling the Craft Marketsorange shweshwe moodboard for work

    Look 5: Slaying it in the Office

    Such a versatile, eye-catching dress. For more details, or to shop the dress (and check out our Katchy Kollections Tote Bag too!) at


    Sapelle Launches Basotho Blanket Poncho with Thabo Makhetha

    Sapelle Thabo Makhetha Basotho Wool Cape

    Thabo Makhetha for Sapelle Basotho Blanket

    Sapelle is rolling out its Autumn Winter 2016 range with unique, timeless pieces that epitomise the brand’s commitment to fuse African heritage and design with a contemporary global chic aaesthetic. One of the first pieces to be featured is a collaborative piece between Sapelle and South African designer, Thabo Makhetha – the Basotho Blanket Poncho in 100% wool.

    The blankets originate from the small “Mountain Kingdom” of Lesotho, which is nestled in the Maloti Mountains, and is one of the few southern African countries that experience very cold winters.

    The tribal blankets have a deep cultural significance and history and a er very much a part of the cultural identity of the Basotho people, who wear it as part of their everyday life.

    What makes the Basotho blankets unique is the layout of the design, the various symbols used, the bold colour combinations and the characteristic pin-stripe. This stripe was originally a weaving fault which has become a unique part of the design and dictates how the blanket is worn. When worn in the traditional manner, the pin-stripe runs vertically, symbolising growth.

    Basotho Blankets worn by Sotho people of the Mountain Kingdom

    A range of Basotho Blankets worn by Sotho people of the Mountain Kingdom

    The corncob is the most widely used motif throughout the range of the Basotho heritage blankets. In Basotho culture maize is the staple food and therefore the corncob is a symbol of fertility and wealth. The more prestigious Seanamarena design features more corncobs than the everyday wearing blankets, the Sefate and Morena.

    Thabo Makhetha uses traditional Basotho Blanket

    Thabo Makhetha is a rising star designer using traditional Basotho Blanket

    Thabo is a South African fashion designer of Sotho descent, and she’s best known for her pret-a-porter range of winter capes inspired and made from traditional Basotho blankets. Sapelle’s in-house designer created the contemporary silhouette of the poncho, and Thabo was therefore the perfect partner to produce this range in collaboration with us.

    Spurred by the media interest in the “blanket coat” she showcased a collection titled Kobo Ea Bohali (Blankets of Prestige) at the 2013 Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town and was soon hailed as one of the emerging creatives to look out for. Thabo Makhetha features regularly in leading fashion magazines such as ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, Women and Home (SA). Internationally her work has been covered in the New York Post (USA), Wall Street Journal (USA) and numerous fashion blogs.

    Sapelle’s CEO Daphne Kasambala said, “We’re very excited to have collaborated with Thabo on this product. Sapelle is all about showcasing the best of African heritage and design, therefore bringing a product that marries both the historic Sotho textile with the fresh design talent that is Thabo Makhetha is a double achievement for us. We think the cape is fabulous for the cold weather. It’s made of very high quality wool, and its unique design is stunning and yet it looks great on any urban street, from Johannesburg to London.”

    The poncho is available exclusively, in various options at Sapelle’s online store and London showroom.

    Sapelle Thabo Makhetha Basotho Blanket

    The Sapelle Thabo Makhetha Cape

    Photo Credit: Aranda






    Interview with Daniele Tamagni, Photographer & Author of ‘Fashion Tribes’

    Dear Daniele, We have and love your latest book, “Fashion Tribes”. You are also the Author of “Gentleman of Bacongo”, dedicated to The Sapeurs of Congo.
    We wanted to learn more about your work with the Fashion Subcultures, especially those based in Africa.

    Daniele Tamagni The Xalay Fashion Ladys # 2 Lambda c-print 41 x 56 cm Courtesy October Gallery London low res

    Daniele Tamagni, you are an Art Historian by training, how did your current career of Photographer start?

    My career as photographer started around 2004. I was still working on history of art, cataloguing and researching, but gradually I realized I wanted to dedicate myself full time to photography. Transform a passion, a hobby in a job is not easy but I think photography was and is the medium I prefer, to communicate to people.

    My photography is about people not still life, paintings or Architecture so I totally changed; but said this, I think studying Art for years helped with constructing a picture because I always have in my mind composition, light, colours etc. that remind me of paintings even if it is for street photography or reportage. The esthetic plays an important role in my photography style.

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    You started photographing “The Sapeurs” before they became known internationally, can you tell us how you discovered them and what attracted you to them?

    I was in Brazzaville in 2007 while doing different reportages for ‘Africa’ magazine. One night I saw these elegant Dandies during Papa Wemba’s concert. Their style was unique and so unusual compared to other Congolese: a western neo-colonial style that reminded me of the past; at the same time so provocative and creative. I really wanted to know more about them so I researched them when I was back in Europe and I decided to go deeper, going back, meeting them and doing a story.

    It was 2008 when I decided I have enough documented for the book; of course I could never have imagined the success of this project that led them to be known internationally. “Gentlemen of Bacongo” was published in 2009.

    Daniele Tamagni, Ngor, La Renaissance Africaine, 2012. Lambda C-Print, 80 x 57 cm. Courtesy October Gallery London copy

    The fashion subcultures featured in your book defend fiercely their individuality. How are they perceived in a wider culture that can put the emphasis on group identity and where the pressure to conform can still be difficult to resist?

    It is true that they defend their individuality. They ask for respect and stand out to defend their style and creativity but also their sense of belonging to a community. At the same time, what we can call subculture or counter-culture can influence the mainstream culture. I am talking about sapeurs who influenced designers like Paul Smith or pop star singers like Solange Knowles. Also let’s think about the punk movement born as a rebellion movement and now is still so alive and established in the world of fashion.

    Daniele Tamagni Playboys_of_Bacongo 2008 Lambda c-print 74.2 x 126.5 cm Courtesy October Gallery London copy

    What is the level of influence these groups have on their societies? Especially on the new generations?

    I think the impact is very strong. The sapeurs for example have been invited to talk to young generations because of their example of elegant and stylish man not just for the outfit but also for the good manner, the behaviour and the moral code that a real sapeur must have together with the “allure”.

    Your work has given “The Sapeur” a new level of exposure – especially with the video with Solange Knowles. How has this new notoriety impacted their lives? Are they moving from the fringe to become mainstream?

    Not yet unfortunately, recently a well-known brand, Guinness, did a campaign with the sapeurs. I really hope these occasions can help sapeurs financially. But they are still episodic and not enough to change their lives.

    Daniele Tamagni, Jerry Moeng del gruppo Smangor Johannesburgi Courtesy October Gallery copy

    Discover the work of Daniel Tamagni and James Barnor at the October Gallery in London. Their joint exhibition runs from 8th to 30th of September 2016.

    The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 


    Wedding Chic Styling Tips

    If you’re celebrating a wedding soon, whether it’s an elegant city wedding, a traditional fairytale or a relaxed countryside affair, we’ve got some styling tips for you. We’ve paired contemporary fashion inspired by Africa with modern accessories to create unique, stylish looks that will do you justice at your occasion.

    wedding chic


    wedding elegantBalancing form and function is tricky, especially for an elegant wedding where both looking fabulous and being comfortable are essential. Shoes are the foundation of your outfit. A beautiful pair of heels that fits well whilst letting you mingle and party all day and all night are an asset.

    Here we’ve anchored the elegant look with printed pencil skirts (both Sapelle), complemented by neutral accessories and beautiful tailored tops.

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    wedding elegant 2

    For a city wedding where less is more, try using dark, elegant colours and unfussy prints that will transition perfectly from daytime vows to evening reception with ease. A stole or throw is essential for layering up later.

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    wedding traditional 2 wedding traditional

    A traditional country wedding is the perfect occasion to indulge in some feminine style, with frilly retro-inspired tops and flared skirt silhouettes. Add a pretty headpiece to complete the look.

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    wedding beachThe relaxed beach or country wedding is our favourite: beautiful scenery, the company of family and friends and a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy them in.

    Select natural, light pieces that look effortlessly stylish while staying cool.

    Don’t forget a wide-brimmed sun hat for the afternoon and a pastel shawl for when the sun sets and temperatures drop.