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A-Collective E-Shop launch

 

 

We are launching Australasia's premier online African Fashion aggregate platform today, Wednesday 31 May 2017 at 7pm NZST.


Yep you heard right! We are dropping the second platform of our Social Enterprise, ADJOAA, three days after the one-year anniversary of our first and much known platform, Africa Fashion Festival, following a sensational inaugural show in 2016. I will tell you more about this platform in our next issue. 

Back to the star of this newsletter. Our second platform A-Collective, an online retail channel bringing the vision of our Social Enterprise ADJOAA, a step closer to creating the First Hub for African fashion in the Asia-Pacific region.

A-Collective will provide fashion lovers and lovers of all things African in the Australasian region, a curated selection of ethical and sustainable luxury fashion and accessories by designers from the African continent. That's right! You heard it! We are bringing African fashion and contemporary accessories to your door step, so you don't have to travel thousands of miles to the Continent to find these ethical and luxurious treasures. So grab your debit cards and credit cards and engage in some guilt-free shopping when we go live at 7pm today. 

Why guilt-free? You ask? Because we are a Fashion for Development Social Enterprise. 10% of proceeds from every item sold will go towards our Social Impact Fund. A Fund we have established to create social good - to give back to communities in parts of Africa in partnership with our designers to support mentoring, education and internship. It’s early days, but we are committed to building this fund to invest in development in selected marginalised communities. 

This is what you need to know. All the designers we work with are committed to creating jobs in their home countries in the Continent, to support social and economic development. As a young African, I believe Africans need to own their development. What does this means? It means taking active steps to support ventures that equip our people with skills, create jobs to help address the high rates of unemployment, in particular amongst young people and women. Investment in infrastructures in the Continent that help advance economic and social development. It is one of the reasons why I embarked on this journey to support designers and artisans working in Africa's second biggest industry, the creative sector, to help stimulate economic development. 

How?  By providing platforms such as Africa Fashion Festival and A-Collective to support designers and artists from the African continent to access new markets, to generate more revenue, to increase their production, and by extension employ more people.

What's our value proposition? In a nutshell, we have chosen to partner with designers that through their work are helping to create jobs in their home countries in Africa, and are committed to protecting our traditional manufacturing techniques such as weaving, textile making etc., and elevating these techniques to a luxury level. What else, we work with designers that are helping to preserve and sustain artisanal jobs in the age of massive industrialisation. 

I think that's enough from me and the amazing team that have made this dream a reality. It's sounds cliché but as a bootstrapping nascent social entrepreneur, it has taken a community of people to bring this vision to life. So before I sign-off, I just wanted to shout out to my village of supporters and friends. 

Special shout to Michele Marius who has been relentless in her belief in me, a cheerleader, a mentor and advisor since the inception of this idea of creating a Social Enterprise. You are a real role model to me and I hope I can give and be a source of support to many budding entrepreneurs, and in particular, female entrepreneurs, on my journey. Another shout to Pepper for her patience and talent for designing a wicked website for A-Collective and ADJOAA. Sally Young and Jack Chapman for beautifully capturing each of the collections, and my dear friend, Yvette Edwards, and my Social Media Manager, Sarah Wong for assisting and giving their expertise at the shoots. Annelies Kuypers, Chido Dimairo (my surrogate sister) and Sarah for assisting with uploading the products. 

Enough from me. Now that you know A-Collective is a labour of love and that every purchase you make through any of our platforms is Fashion for Good, i.e. making a real impact in the lives of real persons and communities of artisans and not some greedy corporate purse. You have every excuse to shop up a storm! 

Next issue...... talk-party about Africa Fashion Festival 2.O.... start saving your pennies. 

 

Thank you for supporting this journey.

 

Love 

Pinaman

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In Conversation With MONAA

MONAA is a luxury shoe label founded by German born Ghanaian sisters, Afua (left) and Nana Dabanka (right). Living across different continents, Afua is now based in London and Nana works in New York.


Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work?

MONAA is a luxury footwear label which we created in 2013. Expert artisans in Ghana and Ethiopia beautiful craft our sandals from the finest globally sourced leathers. As a finishing, we embellish the sandals with ornaments reminiscent of our Ashanti heritage.

What is your creative process?

Our inspiration does not only come from Ghana but from the entire African continent. We select a theme for the collection and then translate the vision into colours, materials and designs.

What’s your fashion philosophy – i.e. ethical or/and sustainable fashion?

The motivation behind MONAA was to create a high end brand and we are fortunate to be able to produce in the countries we do. We strongly believe in the concepts of ethical and sustainable fashion. Thanks to the amazing work of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, who have taken on MONAA under their wing, this concept is finding increasing global reach. Hopefully, one day, fashion form the continent will simply be considered fashion without any extra labelling!

What is your advice to aspiring designers?

Understand that the process is long and hard, so be patient but never stop pushing!

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

There is a lack of materials and resources, e.g. technology, equipment etc. Also, there is not enough access to specialised or vocational training which could not only increase the number of artisans but also their skill sets.

How do you give back to the community?

In a small way, we contribute towards local businesses and towards promoting countries in Africa as manufacturing hubs. As the brand grows, we are planning to have an even larger impact.

What’s your price range?

Our sandals retail between US$95-US$140.

Where can we see more of your work?

Our sandals can be bought online at Kisua (http://www.kisua.com). We are also stocked in both of Kisua’s stores in Johannesburg and at Elle Lokko (http://www.ellelokko.com) in Accra.

In Conversation With Laurence Airline

Laurence Airline is a menswear label based between Abidjan and Paris. Their entire line is made at their workshop in Ivory Coast, where local people are trained to produce high quality garments.


Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work

I am a graduate from the French fashion school Studio Berçot. At the beginning, I was living in Paris and started to work for Mlle Agnes and Louis Vuitton. During that time I was offered the opportunity to create a small collection in cooperation with a factory in Ivory Coast. Initially, I was supposed to stay a month but ended up staying for 6 months creating my first clothing line for women. And that’s how it all began…

What’s your creative process?

We do not reveal our cooking recipes…

What’s your fashion philosophy – i.e. ethical and/or sustainable fashion?

We aspire to create valuable products by using materials with a real story to tell. We are careful of our impact on the environment and make sure the relationship between everyone and everything involved in the process is good.

What’s your advice to aspiring designers?

Surround yourself with bright and competent people! Also, always strive to stay consistent in what you are trying to accomplish.

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

Africa fails to provide aspiring designers with adequate training in all areas of fashion and clothing. Furthermore, it is an incredibly challenging task to enhance the wonderful local craft workwhile establishing a sustainable fashion industry.

How do you give back to the community?

We create jobs in Africa, provide training and collaborate with locals.

What’s your price range?

$109.29 – $780.65

Where can we see more of your work?

Visit us online at http://www.laurenceairline.com

In Conversation with Nana Brenu

Nana K. Brenu founded his label, 1981, in 2012. The label expresses his quest for equilibrium between two highly contrasting genres of style. The first being his Ghanaian heritage characterised by vibrant colours and bold prints, and the second being his minimalistic design aesthetic which is influenced by modern art, design and architecture.


Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work?

I am Nana K. Brenu, a Ghanaian born designer residing in Milan and the creative director of contemporary fashion label 1981, which I founded in 2012. I grew up in Ghana and spent most of my adult years in Canada, United States. I currently live in Italy where I had my higher education and training in fashion design. I am also an alumni of Parsons School of Design New York and Istituto Marangoni Milan. After obtaining my Master in fashion design at Istituto Marangoni, I worked for a small design studio in Milan for three years before launching 1981.

What is your creative process?

My creative process involves weeks of research based on a theme or idea that inspires me. My research for a collection spans across fields of art, modern design, architecture (which I am heavily influenced by), Ghanaian/ African culture, fabrics and colours just to name a few. From this, I begin to create the collection, exploring and developing design details and themes, colours and materials.

What’s your fashion philosophy – i.e. ethical or/and sustainable fashion?

I believe fashion has to be ethical due to the large number of human resource involved, the impact on the economy, cultures and lives of individuals involved in  the design process. With everything becoming mechanised and industrialised, we are losing the human touch and the traditional craftsmanship involved in the design process, making the final product less personal and meaningful. It is our responsibility to ensure design traditions and traditional techniques are preserved and don’t disappear from history and is highlighted in the modern era.

What is your advice to aspiring designers?

Be sure it’s what you really want to do. Never expect success overnight and be ready to put in some hard work, long hours and have no social life. Always surround yourself with people smarter than you and who have had a lot of experience in all sector of the industry. Be open to constructive criticism. Most of all, believe in yourself and make sure you know when you are going down the wrong path.

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

Lack of education and infrastructure. There is also a severe need for technical skills and know-how which makes it challenging to produce in Africa. Compared to other countries, there is no support, government involvement or major institutions to increase the growth or help the industry thrive.

How do you give back to the community?

I work with local textile makers and designers who weave and dye fabric using traditional methods. This involves a lot of man-hours since almost everything is handmade. My work helps support these industries, emphasise their relevance, pushes them to be more creative and aims to modernise their process.

What’s your price range?

My price range is from €120 for a t-shirt up to €800 for a gown.

Where can we see more of your work?

Most of our work can be found on our website http://www.studio1981.com

In Conversation With Bohten

It is on the mountainous region of Kwahu, highest habitable place in Ghana that Bôhten began its journey. Nana Boateng Osei, Founder of Bôhten, had the initiative to use reclaimed material to manufacture an eco-luxury eyewear line. He draws inspiration from his Ghanaian roots, from his love of nature but mostly from his late grandfather Andrew Hanson Osei, who was Ghana’s first land surveyor in the 60s.


Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work

Bohten Eyeglasses is an Eco-luxury brand that designs and produces eyewear from reclaimed materials. It was founded by Nana Boateng Osei with inspirations stemming from personal style and nature.

What’s your creative process?

We’re very inspired by natural elements, retro/classic style and individuality. Bohten’s manufacturing process starts with ideas that are designed in 3D software. Once done, reclaimed materials such as bamboo, wood and plant based acetate is cut with CNC machines to our specifications. The pieces are then sanded down, polished, assembled and varnished for a beautiful finish.

What’s your fashion philosophy – i.e. ethical and/or sustainable fashion?

Sadly, fashion is one most unsustainable industries in the world. Bohten believes in igniting social and environmental change through our chosen processes of production, use of discarded materials, education in eyecare and the finally creation of opportunities in Ghana and beyond.

What’s your advice to aspiring designers?

My advice would be to develop a mission for their brand which is close to their heart and also build a team that is as passionate about your project as you are.

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

Some of the challenges facing the Africa fashion industry are lack of structures that can formalize the business of fashion and opportunities therein. Secondly, perception of capabilities to build locally and still cater to the global market; our own perceptions limit how far we can potentially go with an idea as designers.

How do your give back to the community?

We work with a charity called Sight Savers, they develop eye treatment programs for countries such as Ghana, Nigeria , Kenya and India. For each paired sold globally we donate 5 USD to their programs. The name of the partnership is Impact Of One. We hope to do more as the right opportunities develop.

What’s your price range?

Our price range is 120 USD – 750USD

Where can we see more of your work?

You can see more of work on our website http://www.Bohten.com

In Coversation With A A K S

A A K S was founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi with the goal of introducing the world to her favourite weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. Handcrafted in Ghana, A A K S creates bags in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts characterised by bright exuberant colours.


Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work

I am Akosua a fashion accessories designer from Ghana. I embarked on my adventurous journey from London to Ghana in 2013 to start my brand A A K S after seeing a gap in the market for beautifully handcrafted bags. It was a truly defining moment in my lifeas I wanted to go out on my own and pull together all my passions and talents to create something unique that would be fulfilling – both personally and professionally. I embarked on my journey to Ghana to make this happen. I am motivated by family and friends and starting a luxury African brand on the continent!

What’s your creative process?

My design process is slightly complex but simple at the same time. I start by establishing a mood that fits with my clientele’s lifestyle and my design aesthetic. I seek inspiration by visiting my favourite places and exploring new environments through travel. I am an avid sunset photographer so I normally pick beautiful hues from pictures I have taken from travels which then form part of my colour palette. I draw my bag designs from photographs, historical and contemporary fine art, and fashion photography pictures which resonate with me and also architecture.

After drawing and deciding on a set of ideas, I take my design sheets with spec measurements, colour ways and finishes to my weavers in where I brief them about my inspirations and ideas for the season. Weavers also bring on board their ideas of technical know and how each bag would be executed. We then begin by twisting the raffia, we also dye the strands with organically certified dyes then leave to dry in the open sunshine. Preparation normally takes 3 -4 weeks before weaving can begin. 

Weavers then start making 3 dimensional shapes of my designs with critical attention to detail and and then we achieve sample shapes for the season. I bring the samples to my studio 12 hours drive away from the weaving community and start putting together finishes touches such as linings, trims, labels, leather handles and buckles. I go through each piece to approve quality and I pick the final pieces which is then presented as my final collection for a customer and then stores. 

What’s your fashion philosophy – i.e. ethical and/or sustainable fashion?

A A K S is a purpose driven, lifestyle brand for the conscious and stylish consumers, who are willing to help change perception about made in Africa goods. Our design philosophy is a complex combination of thoughts and design element which ensues from a critical attention to craftsmanship, authenticity and ethical values in our production.

What’s your advice to aspiring designers?

I would advice any aspiring persons to start. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the planning of your business and sometimes it’s okay to know what you want and just go for it.

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

Building a fully African-made luxury brand presents tremendous challenges which my team and I are overcoming everyday. We struggle with infrastructure, simple things like poor telephone network, intermittent Internet connectivity and electricity disruption also poses a lot of inconvenience to our daily work. However, despite all these setbacks we are persevering and making the best out of everything and taking a competitive advantage when the need arises.

How do your give back to the community?

Through my work in Ghana, we impact the community greatly by providing employment to the local community and ensuring the continuity of weaving as an art/technique that can be passed down to the younger generation. We also encourage weaving to be valued as a major income earner for many in the cooperative. I hope that our brand will go someway in contributing to the revival and sustenance of weaving as a thriving art.

What’s your price range?

Mid range market

Where can we see more of your work?

In many unique stores around the world such as Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters in the UK and USA, Maison Mara in Cape Town South Africa, Alara in Nigeria, District Six in Germany, House of Satori in Singapore, Packing Man in Italy and also via my online webstore.

In Conversation With Sokona

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work?

I was born in Bamako, Mali, to a Congolese/Malian mother and a Mauritanian father. I was raised in Belgium. I have a degree in Translation and I am also trained as a contemporary dancer which I did for many years prior to having a family.

Fashion came to life for me at a very young age – my mother who spends at least two hours getting dressed up before stepping out of her room every morning was a real inspiration. However, when I returned to London after not living in Europe for many years, I discovered the magnificence and explosion emerging both from Africa and African expats on the fashion scene. As an artist, I felt that it was doing a lot of great things for Africa. This was an excellent opportunity to show what we Africans knew about our beautiful and vibrant continent. Fashion can be used as a way to transform perceptions of Africa by showing its energy and modernity.

My partner and I started off making scarves, as we wanted a product that was easy for non-Africans to add to their outfits. We used fabrics like wax printed cotton, Kente and Kitenge mixed with silk and wool.

What is your creative process?

My creative fashion is based on women I met in the four different continents I have lived in. From Singapore to Addis, a lot of fabulously dressed and stylish women have nourished my inspiration.

What’s your fashion philosophy – i.e. ethical or/and sustainable fashion?

As a start-up it is more economical to have our designs made in New Zealand which is where we live. Yet, most of the African fabrics we use are sourced around the world as we are very aware of the importance of ethical fashion. We choose the factories that we source from and work with very carefully.

What is your advice to aspiring designers?

Find yourselves reliable and inspiring partners to work with – you cannot do everything on your own!

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

African producers face trade barriers with other countries, traffic and tax export duties often in form of bribes by officials from within African countries. This makes business very hard.

How do you give back to the community?

As soon as we have made a further step and gained more recognition, we would like to get more women back into the workforce by providing flexible and rewarding employment – both here and in Africa. We will do so by creating ateliers where all productions are made in-house.

What’s your price range?

Most of our creations are custom made and vary between $250 to $850. Our ready wear is between $200 and $450.

Where can we see more of your work?

Either on our website or on Instagram

In Conversation with Chido Dimairo

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work

My name is Chido Dimairo and I am an aspiring fashion designer. I recently graduated from Massey University after studying fashion design and have been currently working on establishing my label. I was born in Zimbabwe but grew up in New Zealand where I discovered my love for all things fashion.

What is your creative process?

I don’t have a creative process that is set in stone but I am constantly inspired by my surroundings. Anything from sights, sounds, smells and touch can kick start my creative process. I consider myself a creative hoarder and really enjoy gathering items from photos, trinkets and fabrics that I can refer back to later for inspiration. Recently, I have been very inspired by my heritage and childhood growing between Zimbabwe and New Zealand.

What’s your fashion philosophy – i.e. ethical or/and sustainable fashion?

I am a big believer in ethical fashion and want it to be a core part of my label. Looking into the future, I want my garments to be ethically produced both on and offshore in places where I can confidently assure the conditions and welfare of the production workers.

What is your advice to aspiring designers?

Every failure is an opportunity to learn and better yourself. When things aren’t going right, channel that frustration to drive you towards finding a better solution.

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

Lack of infrastructure and recognition. African fashion designers tend to be put into a bubble and I think the global fashion industry assumes that the African fashion industry is unable to produce the same quality of luxury fashion. I think this is an assumption that many amazing African designers are disproving, as their works are being recognised and celebrated around the world.

How do you give back to the community?

Being a recent graduate and aspiring designer, I understand how difficult it can be to get your name out in the open so whenever I work on a project, I always try to work with other graduates and young creatives. I believe that there is an immense strength in numbers especially when young people work together to build each other up. In the future I want to extend this network and work with artisans and young creatives in Zimbabwe.

What’s your price range?

Pieces range from $150 to $600

Where can we see more of your work?

You can see more of my collections on my website http://www.chidodimairo.com

In Conversation with Diarra Bousso

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work?

I’m Diarra Bousso, the founder of Dakar Boutique Group, a luxury holding company that houses my three brands; Diarra Bousso, Diarrablu, and Mint. I was born and raised in Senegal but spent most of my teenage years in Norway and subsequently in the United States where I did my higher education. I actually started my career trading bonds on Wall Street before pursuing my passion for fashion and development.

What is your creative process?

I find inspiration from revisiting works of the great masters of modern art. I’m especially inspired by the precursors of the cubism movement, Pablo Picasso and George Braque. Aside from visual arts, I also find a lot of inspiration from my travels and my academic background. The strong geometric focus in DIARRABLU line is influenced by my mathematics background.

What’s your fashion philosophy – ie. ethical or/and sustainable fashion?

Ethical fashion is core to our brands.  All garments and accessories produced through our three brands leave minimal environmental footprints, we provide good working conditions and fair wage for our artisans. Our luxury brand Diarra Bousso for example, is handcrafted by our artisans using recycled exotic leather from the Karoo region in South Africa. Our Mint and Diarrablu brands are also ethically produced in our workshop in Dakar, Senegal.

What is your advice to aspiring designers?

Persistence is key. My advice to anyone who wants to be successful would be, knock on as many doors as possible and leave a positive impression. You need to know the why for what you are doing, understand your mission and be able to clearly articulate this to the different people you’ll encounter. I think having a great team is also very important. I wouldn’t have survived without my amazing team in Dakar, New York, Paris and Beijing.

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

The main challenges I would say are but not limited to (i) the lack of understanding of the various roles within the industry – many people in the continent call themselves designers without really understanding what being a designer entails.  (ii) The lack of organization of the industry itself – the fashion industry is very complex with distinct branches such as design, manufacturing, PR, marketing and sales which all require thorough training and investment.Though the continent has strong talents within the different parts of the industry, the lack of organization hinders us. iii) The lack of support from our governments for the creative sector and creative entrepreneurs is stymying the industry’s development.

How do you give back to the community?

I launched the GEM (Global Education Movement) foundation before leaving Wall Street to empower women and children through educational opportunities. In terms of projects, we have succesfully provided training opportunities to women tailors in Senegal to improve the quality and efficiency of their productions. We are currently working on both formal and vocational training opportunities for young mothers and street children.

What’s your price range?

Diarra Bousso, our premium leather accessories start at US$1000. DIARRABLU, our contemporary womenswear inspired by geometry range between US$130 and US$380. Our affordable brand MINT, which targets a younger demographic and is priced  from US$40 to US$120.

See more of Diarra’s work at http://www.diarrabousso.com

In Conversation With Taibo Bacar

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your work?

I’m Taibo Bacar, a fashion designer from Mozambique in Southern Africa. I’ve been designing since 2008 and my aim is to take the Continent of Africa to the world through my work.

What is your creative process?

I don’t have a defined creative approach. I try to be in tune with my surroundings and that in turn influences how each collection shapes out. Inspiration for a collection can come from fabric I buy, an old fashion magazine or a woman I see on the street. I’m always alert to new inspirations.

What’s your fashion philosophy – ie. ethical or/and sustainable fashion?

I have a great interest in ethical fashion. Most of the production I do is in-house in Mozambique where our workers are provided with good working conditions. When we outsource we visit the factories to see for ourselves the conditions the workers work in and how the clothes are produced.

What is your advice to aspiring designers?

Look into the world to learn from it but always stay true to yourself and your beliefs.

In your opinion what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry in Africa?

We still have a lot to learn and discover and now I think the main problem is lack of materials and qualified and specialised technicians in the industry.

How do you give back to the community?

Our business create jobs for our local community and the taxes we pay also assist with developmental projects like building hospitals and schools.

What’s your price range?

Taibo Bacar produces three different lines. Our ready to wear range is from $50 USD – $300 USD. The high fashion/evening wear is priced from $450 USD -$2,800 USD and our bridal wear is from $3,000 USD – $10,000 USD. Most of the work of our high fashion and bridal wear is made by hand in house.

See more of Taibo’s work at http://www.taibobacar.com