In a country with a steadily growing economy, luxury-conscious population, and rich cultural heritage, Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Abba is home to an emerging fashion scene and conceptual boutiques that put ethical standards and artisan creations first.
The boutiques below were each established with a unique motive: some shops celebrate local textiles, while others acknowledge the need for employment opportunities for women by calling on them to apply their craftsmanship to modern pieces.
Below, five outstanding boutiques to visit in Addis Abba.
African Mosaique is a pioneering brand challenging the traditional scope of retail. Housed on a large compound that includes an eatery, home goods display and more, African Mosaique provides everything from manufacturing and marketing services to high-end garments in-store. The brand also supports outreach programs for promising fashion designers in the community. The owners are invested in ethical practices and source their fabrics from various African countries, while also employing a number of women from low-income backgrounds.
Zaaf, a contemporary luxury retailer with products sold in multiple locations outside of Ethiopia, including the US and Europe, was founded by fashion designer and entrepreneur, Abai Schulze. It values and emphasizes the term, "Made in Africa", carrying an extensive range of handcrafted premium leather jackets, bags, accessories, scarfs and shoes that are produced by artisans in Addis Abba. Through this business, Schulze offers a refreshing outlook on luxury fashion by applying ancestral techniques to quality contemporary designs.
Located on Bele Tele, a walking distance from the Sapphire Hotel, Sebegn is the ultimate cultural hub for locals and passing visitors. This boutique delivers a relaxed shopping experience in it's residential style villa, allowing customers to shop while observing the curated art works, conversing with artists, and having a cup of Ethiopian coffee. The store stocks over 40 brands along with producing their own line of leather merchandise.
St. Georges Gallery
Elegantly curated as an exhibition space, St. Georges Gallery is favored equally by the locals and the travelers. This quaint setting features hand-made art, artifacts, and furniture. Whether your're seeking a cultural exploration of Addis Abba or a unique souvenir to take home, this is a must-see shop located on Titu street, near the Sheraton Addis hotel.
Sustainability, innovation and care are at the core of the Sabahar brand. Kathy Marshall, the founder of this brand, saw the immense supply of labor production and the value in traditional Ethiopian garments and established a business that incorporated a noble principle of entrepreneurship that transcended past the store itself. Sabahars' well-trained workers, play a role in the creation of the garments from start to finish. From weaving cotton to dying silk and shipment of the items to international buyers, these workers are empowered through the process.
Focusing on jewelry, accessories and home items, Salems is the ideal souvenir retailer. The brand produces authentic Ethiopian pieces with the objective of delivering one-of-a-kind designs while preserving Ethiopia's rich culture. In addition to having a wide selection of merchandise to choose from, shoppers also have access to an inside-look of artisans creating the pieces in-store.
Writer - Gelina Dames