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    Boutique Fashion News — african

    Countdown: CALLEFI Premium Lifestyle Event 20-22 July

    CALLEFI SAVE THE DATECounting down to London’s CALLEFI Lux Weekend & Investment Forum on 20-22 July, 2018, supporting Premium and Luxury Lifestyle Brands of African & Caribbean heritage for tangible social impact.

    Come and enjoy art, fashion, dining, music & culture.

    Sapelle will be showcasing our new ‘Sapelle x Adire’ fashion collection.

    Venue: One Horseguards, London SW1

    Click here for details and tickets: https://www.callefi.com/

     

     

     

     

     

    7 Sizzlers for your Summer Wardrobe

    Sapelle African Print Ankara Top Yellow

    ‘BANANA’ PRINT TOP Pair with: skinny jean, wide leg pants, print-clashed skirt, denim shorts

    Sapelle African Print Ankara Skirt Yellow Blue

    FLIRTY WRAP SKIRT Fun, flirty and timeless. An adjustable tie waistband and neutral colourway make this a wardrobe essential

    prdct koele silver

    SILVER LEATHER SANDALS Beautifully hand-made by our partners in Nigeria

    Sapelle Adire African Print Blue Dress

    ‘FEATHERS’ HAND-DYED ADIRE SHIFT TUNIC The perfect fusion of heritage textile and contemporary design. Hand-made by Adire artisans in Nigeria

    Sapelle Ankara African Print Skirt Blue

    ‘SWALLOWS’ PRINT PLEATED SKIRT A well-loved classic wax print on an easy-to wear skirt that works well for may occasions

    Sapelle Ankara African Print Summer Dress Orange

    ‘TANGERINE & LIME’ PRINT DRESS One of our favourite prints combining easy fit, cool cotton and a bold statement print for vacation, party or weekend chilling

    Sapelle Ethnik by Tunde Aso Oke Handwoven Hand Bag Pink

    ASO OKE HAND-WOVEN & LEATHER HANDBAG Ethically hand-made by weaving artisans in Nigeria, a fusion of tradition and modern design and function

    Sapelle Debuts Adire African Textile Collection

    Sapelle African fashion Adire textile handmadeWe’re proud to unveil our Summer ‘18 capsule, showcasing an eclectic mix of vibrant African textiles in flattering, timeless silhouettes.

    Sapelle’s design ethos is based on fusing authentic African heritage design with a contemporary style aesthetic to create unique pieces for the modern woman seeking to experience global cultures. This season, Sapelle captures the spirit of an ancient African textile tradition – the ADIRE (or ‘tied and dyed’ in the West African Yoruba language), and celebrates the artisans who have kept this tradition alive for many centuries.

    ADIRE

    Sapelle African fashion Adire textile handmade

    The tradition of resist- and tie-dyeing goes back centuries in West Africa, with the earliest known example from the Dogon kingdom in Mali in the 11th century. The early 20th century saw a boom in Adire artisanship, making it a major local craft in Abeokuta and Ibadan regions of Nigeria and attracting buyers from all over West Africa.

    Whether created by old techniques or new innovations, Adire today faces challenges and competition from digital and machine prints and other textiles produced in Asia. The craft, which was previously passed down the generations, is now at risk of dying out as young people seek employment in other sectors. Our wish is to see more people around the discovering and enjoying this textile, thereby creating demand for it and employment among the adire artisans.

    Sapelle x ADIRE

    Sapelle African fashion Adire textile handmade

    Sapelle has partnered with one of the most reputable Adire producers in the capital of the craft, Abeokuta to produce a line of custom Adire textiles for the Summer 18 capsule.

    “This is an exciting time in the African creative industry, with events like ‘Black Panther’ movie release and the rise of Afrobeats music and contemporary art increasing the public’s awareness of Africa as an important player in modern global culture. Since 2012 Sapelle has worked mainly with Ankara/ Wax prints that are synonymous with African traditional fashion, and which have a shared history with the Dutch who mechanised the printing of Wax prints,” shared CEO Daphne Kasambala.

    banner feathers maasai (1)

    “This season we go deeper into our exploration of African textiles by focusing on a textile that long pre-dates the Ankara or wax print. We’re excited to be focusing on Adire in this campaign as it brings new depth and meaning to our work, taking our customers on a journey into an African heritage textile that was born and nurtured in Africa.”

    The campaign was shot against a simple backdrop that allows the vibrancy of the prints to speak for themselves. The range includes this season’s hot colours from shades of blues that are typical of the ADIRE indigo tradition to the hot pinks and bold pastels that adorned the SS18 runways.

    Click here to see the full range.

    please insert this on all images: Sapelle African fashion Adire textile handmade

    Sapelle African fashion Adire textile handmade

    Sapelle African fashion Adire textile handmade

     prdct yellow banana front please insert this on all images: Sapelle African fashion Adire textile handmade

    Q&A with our Sapelle x ADIRE Partner

    This summer, our fashion collection Sapelle x ADIRE celebrates the ancient resist-dyeing technique of Adire. We conceived of a collection that not only celebrates this heritage craft that dates back to the 11th century, but also the sights, sounds and smells of Abeokuta, Western Nigerian the Yoruba people and Nigeria itself. The collection is a mix of Adire textiles, Aso Oke (hand-woven textile) and Wax prints, all inspired by the hand-crafting traditions and vibrant colours of the region.

    For this, we went on the hunt for a reliable partner in Nigeria, the home of Adire, who could translate our vision into beautiful textiles that would not only look and feel fabulous, but be produced ethically by artisans who were treated and compensated fairly.

    The concept: an Adire viscose shirt dress for the Sapelle x ADIRE summer collection

    The concept: an Adire viscose shirt dress for the Sapelle x ADIRE summer collection

    We were very privileged to work with Cynthia Asije, who runs an Adire production workshop in Abeokuta, the historic origin and centre of Adire production in Nigeria. Cynthia is a busy woman these days, as the popularity of Adire textile is growing. We had a quick-fire interview with her to find out about about what she does and how.
    adire production for sapelle x adire

    The pattern is individually stamped using melted wax and starch on a template (typically made of sponge) onto plain fabric that has had some ‘blushing’ in light yellow applied to it

    Q: Cynthia, it’s been a pleasure to work with you. How long have you been doing Adire production?
    A: I’ve enjoyed working with you too! I and my team of artisans have been producing Adire for three years now.
    Q: What made you start on this path, and what has your journey looked like so far?
    A: I went to the University of Benin and then started a career in banking for two years, then resigned to focus on producing Adire full-time. The idea to start doing this came about when I did my mandatory one year National Youth Service Corp in Abeokuta (the capital of Adire production). After the Youth Service, I moved back home, bringing some Adire fabrics with me to sell to my friends and family. The fabrics sold out quickly, but my clients complained that the prints were too strong, and that there was not enough variety of fabrics and colours – at the time, most adire was produced on a fabric called guinea brocade – which is great for the traditional caftans and gowns, but not to much for wearing everyday. Also, the dyes used would run excessively when washed. With all these complaints, I decided to get involved in producing premium hand dyed textiles, sourced for unique fabrics, create unique designs, and ensure the quality of our fabrics is top notch.
    adire production for sapelle x adire

    The stamped fabrics being submerged into dye to soak into the parts that have not been stamped with wax

    Q: Tell us about your Adire production workshop
    A: Our production staff are employed full time. Most of the makers that work with us learned the skill at an early age, which has been passed down from generation to generation. They had the skills but no commercial ability to make a it a source of sustainable income for themselves.
    Q: What materials do you use for your production?
    A: We use a variety of textiles from cotton, to jersey, viscose, chiffon and silk. For cotton fabrics we use a little starch for the resist-dyeing, Candle wax dyeing is another technique we use for making our designs.
    adire production for sapelle

    Once dyed, the fabric is put into hot water to melt off the wax, revealing the final design, then hung out to dry. Any remaining bits of wax are removed with an iron

    Q: What have been your biggest challenges since starting up?
    A: We struggle with issues like other producers and designers copying our designs, getting access to a wider market and also getting financing for my business’ working capital and growth.
    Q: What is your vision for Adire textile production?
    A: I’m driven by preserving Nigerian culture and heritage, and I want to see more Nigerians wearing Adire textiles to work, school and special occasions. I’d love to open up an Adire production school and support the expansion of the craft to more artisans.
    Sapelle x adire african print shirt dress

    The finished product, part of the Sapelle x ADIRE Summer ’18 range

    Deep Roots of the Basotho Blanket

    Basotho blankets

    Right now, dropping the words Basotho blanket into a conversation may draw blank looks of incomprehension from most people. But all that is changing.

    Glimpses of the upcoming Black Panther movie (coming out in February 2018) reveal scenes where the warriors of the Wakanda kingdom are draped in Basotho blankets, casting the spotlight on an iconic feature of the clothing and culture of the small mountain kingdom of Southern Africa, Lesotho.

    Basotho Blankets glimpsed on a scene from the Black Panther movie trailer

    Basotho Blankets glimpsed on a scene from the Black Panther movie trailer

    This is by no means the first time the silver screen has launched a look or a trending style. The relationship between film and fashionista is a long-standing love affair.

    Think Alexander McQueen’s autumn/winter 2007 collection which was inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s striking Cleopatra outfits. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner has firmly established the fur coat and pompadour haircut as a cool 21st century look. And Anita Eckberg in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is at least partly responsible for that enduring fashion staple – the little black dress.

    Basotho Blankets spotted in a scene from the Black Panther trailer

    Basotho Blankets spotted in a scene from the Black Panther trailer

    And now, the Basotho blanket is being showcased and given a brand-new fashion twist by luxury brands like Louis Vuitton; brands dedicated to showcasing contemporary African fashion like yours truly, Sapelle; and Sotho and Southern African designers like Thabo Makhetha celebrating their culture. Chic ponchos, bomber jackets, dresses, shirts and trouser suits are all part of an exciting and ever-evolving collection based on the Basotho blanket.

    SA-based designer Thabo Makhetha's signature textile is the Basotho blanket.

    SA-based designer Thabo Makhetha’s signature textile is the Basotho blanket.

    The Basotho Blanket Backstory

    By no means a relic from ancient history, the Basotho blanket made its debut around 150 years ago. Legend has it that back in 1860, King Moshoeshoe I (pronounced ‘Moshweshwe’) of Lesotho was presented with a wool blanket as a gift from the French. He was so delighted with it that he had a wardrobe makeover, replacing his traditional leopard-skin kaross with the blanket. The King’s look was adopted by his fellow countrymen and women. Not only did it look beautiful, it was also just the thing for the country’s cold mountainous climate. It’s said that the contrasting stripe that is a permanent fixture in the blanket’s print design, started out as a manufacturing flaw but was embraced as a unique feature.

    And so, the Basotho blanket as the iconic garment of the Lesotho people was born.

    Wearing the Basotho Blanket in a ceremonial setting: Semonkong Lodge staff don the attire for the King's visit

    Wearing the Basotho Blanket in a ceremonial setting: Semonkong Lodge staff don the attire for the King’s visit

    Whereas in the west, we grapple with a ‘throw away’ culture, switching fashion styles on a whim, the Basotho blanket has endured for over a century as the traditional clothing of the Basotho people of Lesotho. It boldly symbolises pride in the national culture and traditions.

    The deep roots of Basotho Blankets

    For the Sotho people, the Basotho blanket is so much more than an item of clothing. Its roots are deeply embedded in Lesotho’s history and it plays a major role in its culture and identity.

    Different blankets are worn at significant turning points on the journey from cradle to grave. During their circumcision ritual, boys wear a special fertility blanket and this is replaced by another blanket after the ceremony to acknowledge their transition to manhood.

    Basotho Blankets worn by Sotho people of the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho

    Basotho Blankets worn by Sotho people of the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho

    From a young age, girls collect blankets in preparation for their marriage trousseau. For his wedding, a man wears a motlotlehi, and on the birth of the couple’s first child, he gives his wife a serope. Like the kente cloth in Ghana or the bogolan (mud cloth) in Mali, the Basotho blanket is a textile enshrined like a precious jewel in local culture and represents major milestones in a person’s life cycle.

    Collaboration with ‘authentic’ designers.

    With its distinctive designs, the Basotho blanket is also a thing of great beauty, a fact that has not been lost on the global fashion industry. There has been a lot of debate recently about international brands working with heritage design, examining where ‘inspiration’ turns into ‘appropriation’ – read the BBC article on the Basotho blanket issue in the link below. At Sapelle, we believe that respecting the ownership and rights of the cultures we work with is the only fair way forward and so we have collaborated with an ‘authentic’ designer who originates from the Sotho people, Thabo Makhetha to produce our stylish poncho.

    Sapelle x Thabo Makhetha Basotho Blanket in Blue print (also available in Monochrome print)

    Sapelle x Thabo Makhetha Basotho Blanket in Blue print (also available in Monochrome print)

     The future’s bright. The future’s ethical

    There’s never been a better time for fashion companies to rethink their strategies along ethical lines, whether its thinking about the environmental impact or consulting and collaborating with the cultures that originate the designs, and even helping to promote them to as to keep heritage wealth alive and thriving.

    We now know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the food we eat counts. It’s becoming increasingly evident that the clothes we put on our backs need to be part of a radically new way of thinking. For the future to look bright, the universe desperately needs conscious designers who will lead the way in ethical fashion production.

    Read the BBC piece: ‘When does cultural borrowing become cultural appropriation’

    Shop the Sapelle x Thabo Makhetha Basotho Blanket Poncho here

    Words: Yvonne Lloyd

    Header image: courtesy of I See A Different You