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.
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 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.
“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.
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.
-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.
-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.
-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.
-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!
-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.
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.
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 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.”
Photo Credit: Aranda