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    Boutique Fashion News — made in africa

    Our 20% off discount code is a treat for Halloween

    No tricks, we’ve got a lovely treat for you this Halloween – 20% off our selected timeless pieces. Simply enter AUTUMN20 at checkout from our collection here. Don’t forget, it’s free UK SHIPPING and cheap GLOBAL SHIPPING to you wherever you are.

    Our collection is inspired by traditional African heritage crafting techniques and we’ve worked with artisans in Abeokuta, Nigeria to create our beautiful prints in chiffon, viscose and cotton. Click here to shop the collection now.

    Hand-dyed chiffon top with bell sleeves. Was £60. Now £48 with 20% off

    Hand-dyed chiffon top with bell sleeves. Was £60. Now £48 with 20% off

     

    Pleated Swallow Print skirt, perfect with a knitted top. £40, now £32 with 20% discount

    Pleated Swallow Print skirt, perfect with a knitted top. £40, now £32 with 20% discount

     

    Hand-dyed viscose shirt dress. £110, now £88 with 20% discount.

    Hand-dyed viscose shirt dress. £110, now £88 with 20% discount

     

    African print skater dress - available in PLUS sizes. £65, now £52 with 20% discount

    African print skater dress – available in PLUS sizes. £65, now £52 with 20% discount


    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

    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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    Sapelle CEO to Speak at Africa Rising Conference

    05081104-daphne kasanbala-013Daphne Kasambala, Sapelle’s founder and CEO will sit on a panel discussing African fashion and the luxury fashion industry at the upcoming Africa Rising 2014 international conference running between 10 and 12 June, 2014 at Cunard Building in Liverpool.

    Africa Rising 2014 will draw a diverse international audience from various industries and sectors, exploring why Africa is the economic landscape of the future and what this means for stakeholders and players. Africa Rising is part of over two hundred events within the International Festival for Business series. International Festival for Business is a global gathering of the world’s most inspiring businesses; an arena where pivotal industries converge to exchange ideas, products and contacts.

    The conference  is the result of an exciting convergence between innovative thinking, government policy and will to win, IFB 2014 will connect the smartest entrepreneurial minds with the best business opportunities in the world.

    Taibo Bacar (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa)

    Taibo Bacar

    “As ever, I’m excited to be a part of the dynamic discourse around Africa and the opportunities it offers for entrepreneurs like myself, consumers – both local and international, and the benefits this will have on their respective economies” states Kasambala.

    “I think the conference is timed perfectly, when we’re seeing increasingly positive economic performances from several African regions, indicating fertile opportunity for investment and engagement by the international business community. For Sapelle in particular, Africa’s emergence as a viable manufacturing and consumer base means that we can benefit from a wider supplier base; and also look to Africa as a potential marketplace to offer our products.’

    Kasambala will be speaking on 12 June on the ‘Made in Africa’ panel, which will explore topics such as the creation of a sustainable market for luxury brands globally; education and skills development – building capacity for manufacturing; and Africa’s changing role from influencer to producer in the luxury fashion industry.

    For more information and to book your place, click here for Africa Rising event page.

    Photographs courtesy of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa.

    Thula Sindi (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa)

    Thula Sindi