Things I underestimated about Fashion District

FKJohannesburg is a city of gold in many respects, from its early beginnings of being a mining town to now being South Africa’s economic hub.

Having not lived in Johannesburg for long, the fashion areas people seem to hold in high esteem in the city are usually Hyde Park in Sandton, Parkhurst with its long string of high-end boutiques, Rosebank Mall, Maboneng and the likes.

I have spent a lot of time in Braamfontein since my arrival in the city and slowly but surely I’ve been going through hoops to try get a taste of the Sandtons, the Parkhursts, the Rosebanks. Little did I know that I was over looking probably one of the richest fashion areas in Joburg – the Fashion District.

The CBD previously seen as run down and now being ‘refubished’ is not what you see on TV or at the various fashion weeks. What many haven’t yet realised is that this district is actually a gold mine.

I’ve recently received the opportunity to go explore the Fashion District, right at the heart of Jozi. What I appreciated most from the stores in this area is that, whether its food, clothes or jewellery, you will find items that are made in Africa by African people.

This area is the space of the original products. From authentic Ghanaian fabric,  to AmaXhosa jewellery, Ethiopian baskets and Basotho blankets – it can all be found here. A perfect hub of African trading and African retail in its truest form. The unfortunate part is that because of this very reason people don’t value the businesses in this area.

It’s a common trend in South Africa where people don’t value their own, we are always looking to America and Europe as the markers of what is fashionable and what is valuable. We often fail to appreciate what is often right noses and embrace that.

So I have made it my mission to marinate myself in the Fashion District of Jozi that is full of life, knowledge and African luxury.

Let me know in the comments if you know of any brilliant underrated fashion places in the comments. Also feel free to like and share this post 🙂

Fashionably smart with DIY denim boots

Denim jeans have been around for a long time and have never really gone out of fashion. DIY fashion on the internet is nothing new either. But when these two come together magic happens. I’m talking disrupting the class divide and saving the natural environment kind of magic. Let me explain.

This July we saw Kim Kardashian flaunt reportedly Yeezy denim boots on Instagram. Later we saw her in a denim choker. While she was not the inventor, thanks to her 85 million followers and fashion reporters, these fashion pieces that looked like cut up jeans started trending. Inspired by fellow YouTuber Collette Emily, Shay Cherise (thenuvogue) started creating DIY versions of these Yeezy boots which went viral.

I recently went to the Hamptons and had so much fun! All the pics are up on my app!

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on Jul 26, 2016 at 12:56pm PDT

Class divide

Despite the fact that Kanye publicly announced that he wanted his boots to be accessible to everyone, that’s clearly not the case. If Yeezys ever do make it to South Africa they come in limited edition. Otherwise, if you’re shopping with rands on eBay thigh high Yeezys can cost you more than R23 000. Which is more expensive than their initial price. In Kanye’s words, people could spend that money on their families rather.

So even before the denim thigh high boots are released you probably already know if you won’t afford them, so why not do it yourself right? Since these DIY denim boots trended on Instagram there have been various tutorials on how to make them yourself on YouTube. Some of these YouTubers recycle old jean or boots that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Environmental impact

Levi’s research showed that one pair of their 501 jeans required about 3482 litres of water and 400 megajoules of energy to make while releasing 32 kg of carbon dioxide. That’s only one pair. In the countries where jeans are often manufactured rivers turn blue where water is expelled and the land is made sterile from the chemicals used to style particularly distressed jeans. While denim jeans are primarily made out of cotton, the chemicals added to the pieces make it hard for the earth to break down the material once it reaches the end of its life cycle in landfills.

So what can we do to help? Save yourself some money and recycle your denim and other non-biodegradable materials. You can still look trendy while being socially and environmentally conscious.

Feel free to like, comment or share this post 🙂

African print gym wear!

While browsing on Instagram I stumbled across African print gym tights. This was a big moment. African print fabric, sometimes called Ankara, has been made into dresses, furniture, and even socks. Now we see African print on gym attire. This is particularly important, here’s why.

d
Picture: London Devine

Context

The practice of health and fitness have been made a White space. There is a pervasive idea that Black people, particularly Black womxn, don’t exercise. In South Africa specifically, the actual gym areas have been made spaces reserved for White people, where Black people don’t belong. There have been reported cases where some White people reinforce this unwritten rule.

Apart from that gym attire tends to be expensive. Again, in South Africa, class is directly linked to race because of our recent past of apartheid. This means Black people are further excluded from the health and fitness communities or physical gym spaces for not having the ‘proper’ attire or accessories. The gym membership fees add to this divide.

If you are still wondering why it is important that African print patterned  gym attire exist let me explain. While some fabrics known as African fabrics do not originate in Africa the dynamic prints we now know are directly associated with Africa. The disruption of whiteness as the norm is very important for people of colour.

 

London Devine is the company that is contributing to the inclusion of people of African descent when it comes to fashion. The company who created these Ankara gym tights may have not necessarily sought to make a political statement but that is still the result.

Dennica Abdo, a designer at London Devine, said this new line was inspired by her childhood: “Growing up in a West African household, African prints were always part of life, especially when my family would attend events and family functions.”

The gap in the clothing market reflected the political undertones of fashion.”Being a curvy female who literally lived in jeans and leggings I would often wish that the traditional prints I loved so much would be available in stretch fabric as I was never comfortable with the way the fabric would be tailored to fit my form” she added.

Why this is important

London Devine’s tights also come in a wide range of sizes, from XS to 6XL, which breaks the ‘skinny girl’ norm. These tights are also wearable outside the gym.So what does it mean having Ankara print tights in spaces, like the gym, that are viewed as White spaces?

  1. It means Black people are claiming the fitness spaces as theirs too.
  2. Black people can represent themselves and be represented in perceived White spaces.
  3. There  is an opportunity for Black people to no longer be seen as assimilating to whiteness when in spaces that are thought to be White.
  4. Here arises an opportunity for exclusive White spaces to no longer exist
  5. Black people can further see themselves and be seen as culturally autonomous

(*Black in this section refers to Black people of African descent.)

The point of it all is that representation matters, even at the gym. Let me know what you think about this post in the comments. Also feel free to like and share.

SAFW Runway Review

Yet another South African Fashion Week (SAFW) has come and gone. With the popularity of African prints in recent years, we have seen more creative use of African-inspired garments of the SAFW runways. More than that, the SAFW designers have certainly increased the quality of their designs since its inception in 2001. Here’s a list my favourite designs for AW17 collections. Read on to see why.

yadah-looks
Yadah Exclusive Designs AW17 collection – Screenshots via SAFW

Yadah Exclusive Designs has been working with African print designs in her previous work. Here’s what I liked this season:

– The ready-to-wear pieces like the midi skirts and cropped printed top are breathtaking.

– The daring yet sophisticates print works well with the corporate style.

– The A-line cuts work well, the skirts are neither puffy nor chunky.

greerkyle-looks
GreerKyle AW17 collection – Screenshots via SAFW

This season the GreerKyle plaid patterns work very well for me. Yet again the formal pieces stood out for me in this collection. Here’s what I liked:

– These monochrome colours paired with the plaid pattern make gorgeous ensembles.

– The culotte suit is an interesting twist to the traditional suit and it screams power.

– This school girl look (the first picture) is my favourite in this collection.

herritual-looks
herRitual AW17 collection – Screenshots via SAFW

What I liked in this herRitual collection:

– The shades of brown work well here, and as it is appropriate, gives a nice warm feel.

– I am really liking the high waist and the asymmetrical look.

mantsho-looks
Mantsho AW17 collection – Screenshots via SAFW

These  are my favourite looks from this Mantsho collection. What I liked:

– The best piece for me in this collection is the off the shoulder peplum top. The frill cut has also been trending this year.

– The African reference in the second look makes an interesting finish on the pockets.

sober-looks
Sober AW17 collection – Screenshots via SAFW

Again, I’m loving the different uses of shades of brown. What I liked:

– Here the skirt of the second look took my breath away. I absolutely love the cut and shape of this skirt.

– Here the skirt of the second look took my breath away. I absolutely love the cut and shape of this skirt.

– I am also intrigued the leather looking chest straps, it gives a ‘ready for action’ sense.

sungoddess-looks
Sun Goddess AW17 collection – Screenshot via SAFW

These are my favourite looks from this Sun Goddess collection. What I liked:

– I love the textured prints and fabrics from this collection.

– The second look here is my favourite from this collection. I love it when designers innovate when it comes to African inspired pieces. Sungoddess did a good job with that here.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.