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    Boutique Fashion News

    Q&A with our May 2017 Pop-Up Fatima Kamselem

    From Saturday 27th May to 3rd June, we will be hosting the Pop-up of Nigerian designer Fatima Kamselem’s accessories brand PhatKam. Fatima’s range of accessories is infused with vibrant wax prints that are sourced locally and handmade by her team of skilled craftspeople. Sapelle worked with Fatima to co-design the range that we will be showcasing in the shop. The range includes bags for the stylish woman with a busy lifestyle and a love for unique design.

    Sapelle is excited to work with Fatima because of our commitment to not only showcase African-inspired products, but more importatnly, to source from Africa and work with people who share this commitment. Because of the challenges faced by producers in many African locations, the temptation to outsource production to the Far East or Europe where the road to production is smoother, is often strong. We were drawn to Fatima’s ‘made in Africa’ ethos and were happy to co-design on certain features like the choice of fabrics and functional features.

    fatima mustard tote square


    Linda from our team caught up with Fatima this week to ask her a few questions about her experiences of doing business in Nigeria.

    Q: African Fashion is usually associated with low-quality products. What’s it like to produce in Nigeria and manage to maintain high-quality standards?

    Maintaining high standards for me stems from the passion I have for what I do. When you commit wholeheartedly to something, you don’t allow yourself to cut corners and that is where the quality begins to slip; when people want to cut corners. I think being true to what I do has allowed me to maintain a high standard

    Q: Our customers hear about “Made in Africa” but what is your experience of this practice on the ground? Why is it important for you to produce in Nigeria? What positive and negative experiences have you had when producing in Nigeria?

    The made in Africa movement is one lot of young Africans are hopping on everyday. As someone who is proud of her heritage, I always wanted to showcase that to the world and my products became a perfect avenue to channel all that energy. Producing locally and knowing that I’m directly impacting the lives of locals is one of my main motivations for doing what I do. Like every other entrepreneur, there’s always challenges and my journey hasn’t been any different but those are the moments that make the journey all that more interesting.

    Q: How does your production activity impact lives of Nigerians you employ?

    My employees are people like me who have an affinity for fashion; and are as passionate about Africa as I am. They have the same vision I have for the brand and it gives them the opportunity to hone their own skills and someday have a brand of their own. They would, in turn, hire other people and give as many people as possible a chance to better their lives

    Q: Is it challenging to find quality raw materials for your brand? How do you overcome the challenges?

    Given how famous the traditional African attire is in Nigeria, sourcing raw materials has not been too difficult.

    Q: Few women start their own business. As a woman, how would you describe your journey of entrepreneurship, furthermore in Nigeria?

    Entrepreneurship is challenging anywhere in the world, but even more so here in Nigeria. The business climate is just starting to improve, as the government is realizing the importance of entrepreneurs to the economy. Being a woman, the biggest challenge is the lack of representation but I’ve had a few personal women in my life that have laid the foundation for my journey; and in them, I have always found a helping hand

    Q: When did you realise that you wanted to start your own company?

    I have started several ventures in the past and when I got this idea, it was a natural progression that made sense. I have the opportunity to fuse two things I am very passionate about namely, my African roots and fashion.

    Q: How do you mix African inspirations with the modern’s expectations of your customers?

    People’s tastes change all the time in fashion. Recently, we have been noticing a trend shift all around the world where people are being more and more receptive to African fashion.


    Fabric selection in a market in Lagos




    April: The Fashion Industry’s diversity Aha moment

    April will be remembered as a momentous month for diversity in Fashion. On April 10th, British Vogue cracked the glass ceiling by appointing Edward Enninful as its first ever male and black Editor. Days later, Gucci unveiled their pre fall campaign featuring only black Models. Although the campaign was first announced in January, its release, coinciding with Enninful’s appointment, marked a further turning point for an industry perceived to be resisting calls for diversity.


    Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s first male and black editor

    The fashion industry has been under fierce criticism for its lack of diversity and its continued determination to use models who match some very narrow standards of beauty: Tall, Thin and mostly White. Last year – which itself was an improvement – saw less than 25% of Non White models on the runway, with New York leading the way with 30%.

    So the Gucci decision was hailed as a welcome reversal of a gloomy trend. Beyond the diversity debate, the campaign also referenced the artistic world of the celebrated Photographer Malick Sidibe. He was famous for capturing the “joie de vivre” and the youth culture of the newly independent Mali in the early sixties. The homage couldn’t be timelier, as it coincides with the first anniversary of his death and a renewed interest in his work. The photographer’s first UK solo exhibition at Somerset House, featuring some of his most iconic pictures, was extended until February this year.

    Blog Regardez moi, Malick Sidibe, 1962

    Regardez moi, Malick Sidibe, 1962

    The cynics may view it as an astute attempt at capitalizing on the rising interest in Contemporary African Art. And it is true that one or two decisions – no matter how historic do not make a trend. However, a trend does require a succession of seemingly isolated events. Change does require some pioneers like Enninful and early adopters to lead the way. Only time will tell whether other brands will follow suit in the upcoming fashion shows or whether the glass ceiling still has some long years ahead and will need further blows before it comes crashing down at long last.

    Blog Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 13.28.26

    Gucci IG Pre fall Campaign 17

    Sapelle represented at Fashion Africa Conference


    fashion africa conferenceWe’re pleased to confirm that Sapelle’s CEO Daphne Kasambala will be a speaker at The Fashion Africa Conference on 25th and 26th May, 2017. The event, which brings together key players and stakeholders in the African apparel industry, will carry the theme “AFRICA, FASHION’S FUTURE”, and run over two days at Chelsea Town Hall.


    Panel discussion at Fashion Africa Conference 2015

    The event is hosted by the social Enterprise Africa Fashion Guide which was founded by Jacqueline Shaw in 2011, at a time when African fashion and Made in Africa products were breaking into mainstream consciousness, and it has continued to grow in importance and scale since then. The theme of the conference reflects the general sentiment in the sector where players are looking for ways to scale up and consolidate their activities and gain a stronger foothold on the global stage.

    “The artisan craft sector is the second largest employer in the developing world. In the next five years, Africa’s textile industry could generate up to $15.5 billion revenue according to The African Development Bank. Within Africa, the entire textile/clothing market is already worth more than $31 billion and accounts for the second largest number of jobs in developing countries after agriculture. As it has been stressed, Africa will rise not by charity or aid but through investment and trade. So the time to invest is now, and a strong garment manufacturing sector is key to Africa’s development.” – Jacqueline Shaw, Founder of The Africa Fashion Guide and The Fashion Africa Conference.

    Jacqueline Shaw cred Haute Fashion Africa

    Jacqueline Shaw with Chichia London founder Christine cred: Haute Fashion Africa

    Daphne Kasambala has been a speaker at the conference for several years, saying, “It’s always an honour to be invited to participate in this essential event which allows parties from different parts of the supply chain to come together, share, impart, inspire, learn and make connections. Doing business in Africa has its unique challenges, therefore hearing about how others are overcoming them is necessary if we are to grow individually and together as a sector. The saying that there’s strength is definitely one which we should action as African apparel producers”

    The panel with representatives from Mantis, One Nigerian Boy, FAB, Kisua, Sapelle, Choolips and Ituen BasiFashion Africa Conference panel debate at SOAS in 2014

    The conference seeks to highlight the scope of opportunities across the continent.  The power and value of opening up African Fashion to global markets is paramount to the economic development of the continent.

    Other confirmed speakers include Simone Cipriani of Ethical Fashion Intiative, Laduma Ngxokolo of Maxhosa, Tamsin Lejuene of Ethical Fashion Forum, Orsola Castro of Fashion Revolution Day, Inge Wallace of Fashion For Good (on behalf of the C & A Foundation), and Lance Clark with Dulma Clark of Soul of Africa, and more.

    For tickets, click here.








    Q&A with OwnBrown’s Nadine Ndjoko Peisker

    ownbroan compressed

    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.

    20160124 missfunkka yemoya

    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.

    download (1)

    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