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    Boutique Fashion News

    Q&A Interview with Eloli

    Our Summer of pop ups continues with a one-week event by Eloli, an exciting fashion brand that embodies sisterhood across the oceans. Kelly from Team Sapelle sat down and asked Dibo, one of the founders of Eloli for a quick-fire interview. Read on…

     

    -Tell us about you and your brand, to start… who is Dibo?

    I am a creative director of Eloli, a fashion brand which I run with my two sisters. I am based in London while Fese is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon and Sume is based in Toronto, Canada. We are all self-taught in fashion design however we are from a family of creatives and grew up in a household where we learned how to sew early on and developed an interest in fashion and retail. As children, we restyled and designed our clothes and having our mum’s machines and amazing fabrics at home made experimenting, an everyday part of our lives.

    Product shot dress

    -What is Eloli ?

    Eloli is an award-winning contemporary fashion brand which showcases African design.

    Eloli means “it is beautiful” in Bafaw, a language spoken in Cameroon.  We wanted a name that was rooted in our heritage evocative of the feeling you get when you wear one of our pieces. Through countless conversations with our mum and aunts, we landed on Eloli. It has proved to be the right choice – beautiful is the most common descriptor we hear. It makes us smile each time.

    We currently have a handbag  line, and a collection of men’s and women’s clothing available in our boutique in Yaoundé, our website and through other  select retailers and e-commerce.

    Making of _Design process

     

    Making of _Manufacturing bags 2

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    -How would you describe the style of your brand ?

    The Eloli woman and man stands out from the crowd with their adventurous and confident nature. A man and woman of the world, they are glamorous with a chic and unique style allowing them to revel in being the centre of attention. They are free and confident, living life on their own terms while caring for the world around them. They are curious, adventurous and comfortable in their own skin.

    The brand incorporates our love for vibrant colour and pattern. Through Eloli we channel our shared passion of introducing an African aesthetic to contemporary design.

    Our brand promise is to help our girls and guys live life boldly – in colour, texture and print.Designers_l_to_r_Dibo Sume&Fese

    -Are your inspirations coming from all over Africa or from a particular country?

    Our inspiration is global with our aesthetic firmly grounded in our Cameroonian heritage. We live in 3 different cities on three different continents, we love to travel and discover different cultures. We are very influenced by our heritage and remain forward looking in our designs.

    We are inspired by the people we design for: adventurous and fearless women and men.

    Affichage de jordan green shirt 1.jpg en cours...

    -What motives you as a fashion designer ?

    As a fashion designer I am motivated by a sense of beauty and style which is heavily influenced by the glamorous men and women who I grew up around. My sisters and I have a huge appreciation for African fashion and aesthetics and try to incorporate that in our designs.

    We are keen to contribute our culture into the fabric of contemporary design and tell our own story so to speak.

    Seeing our designs on people in everyday life is a great reminder of why we decided to start the brand in the first place and keeps us going.

    Working with talented people and seeing how we are contributing to their families and the local communities in our own small way keeps us driven.

    We have also been very blessed with some recognition for our work which is amazing for such a young brand. We were featured in British Vogue last year and also named one of the ‘4 Canadian Start-up Companies You Should Know’ by The Kit Magazine, Canada. We have also won a few awards and all of this helps us focus knowing that that voice in our heads telling us we can achieve just about anything if we keep going, is not so crazy after all.

    Plus, having sisters to rely on keeps us pretty motivated!

    the kit magazine canada eloli

     

    -What are your greatest strengths, and how will they help you as a fashion designer ?

    Well, I did a strength finder test a few years ago and according to that, being creative and strategic are amongst my top 5 strengths. Being creative is obviously essential for a designer and being strategic helps in defining how we turn our creativity into a sustainable and relevant business. The business of fashion is very competitive and it is easy to fall in love with the glamour and not put in the hard work however it is a business and you need to be able to see the bigger picture and plan accordingly.

     

    Thank you Dibo.

     

    Kelly B.

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    Our Pop-Up Partner FKA tells us about Senegalese Rabaal Textile

     

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    We’re thrilled by our summer pop up programme, and are counting down the days before we welcome FKA Atelier, a luxury Senegalese accessories brand that features the beautifully crafted Rabaal textile in its pieces. FKA will be resident at our 281 Portobello Road shop from 10 June until 8 July, with special events being held during that period, so don’t miss out!

    Who is behind FKA Atelier brand ?

    My name is Fanta, I’m an accessories lover and a life traveler. I’m inspired by the traditions and aesthetic codes of my mixed cultures: a bridge between Europe and Africa. Over m
    y blog H&Y, I already shared afro-metropolitan inspirations and stories. FKA Atelier is the junction between my interests. Besides me, I have a team of free spirits, crafting products with a soul, for free spirits, with a style.

    FKA Founder, Fanta Ka

    FKA Founder, Fanta Ka

    How does your brand celebrate your Senegalese culture?

    We exclusively use precious and meaningful materials, such as Rabaal, traditionally used in West Africa for all the key events (birth, naming, wedding…) handwoven by Senegalese craftsmen, but also the best leathers and skins. It’s a way to show our culture.

     

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    Can you tell how Rabaal is made?

    Rabaal is a typically African fabric, handmade with cotton and silk fiber. What makes its particularity is the richness of its colors, the diversity of patterns, and finally its robustness. Made from woven strips, the pieces are assembled by a tailor to fit its final size.

    How is Rabaal used traditionally in Senegalese culture?

    You could find Rabaal in the ceremonies of marriages : the bride is covered with a Rabaal before entering the house of her husband. But also in naming : newborn is wrapped in the most beautiful Rabaal of the mother. However, it is also used on a daily basis. The mother covers her child during his outings, noble women regularly ordering Rabaal to the weavers who settled on the property, time to realize the fabric. The hostess provides thread, food, and pays the labor.

    Does the fabric you use have a meaning?

    Yes. The pattern punctuated by geometric lines and ornaments contains a symbolic message. Just as with proverbs, we proceed by analogy and decipher the meaning; it became a relay of the word, a vehicle of communication requiring no words. These are mystical pieces with a powerful magnetism that link critical moments of life. Rabaal is one of the means of expression at the disposal of women and men, to express their feelings with subtlety and refinement.

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    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.

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    Fabric selection in a market in Lagos

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

     

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