The Edit: 7 Handcrafted Pieces by African Brands That Showcase Artisanal Skills
Increasingly, African designers and luxury brands are setting themselves apart in the fashion industry by championing high-quality craftsmanship and artistry that give their products a sense of character and provenance. Through a range of unique practices that span heritage craft to modern technology, the result is stylish pieces that are good for the environment and worth investing in.
Shop the Handkerchief Cape Dress by MmusoMaxwell
The Handkerchief Cape Dress by South African womenswear brand MmusoMaxwell is one of the most dramatic designs from the “Umethulo” collection. The hand-painted pattern it displays is an abstract print of designer Maxwell Boko’s mother during her Umethulo, a traditional Zulu ceremony that marks the end of a mourning period following the passing of the male head of household. The statement dress is representative of the design duo’s creative interpretation of their African heritage.
Simon and Mary
Shop the Audrey Hat by Simon and Mary
A family-run business since the 1930s, South African milliner Simon and Mary is known for its military fez hats and traditional mountie hat, which have been made by the skilled hands of generations of milliners using the same machinery in the Johannesburg factory that is still standing from the 1960s. Decades on, the brand’s heritage and quality is woven into each design, such as the Audrey hat. Crafted from 100% wool, the hat has a classic shape that is made to last.
Shop the Tradi Jacket by Kente Gentlemen
Tailored at its atelier in Abidjan, Kente Gentlemen’s Tradi Jacket is a modern take on the traditional shirt jacket. It is fabricated from locally sourced Senoufo fabric, which is originally handwoven by local artisans in the northern region of Côte d’Ivoire, using a set of 10th-century design techniques to create the unique patterns.
Shop the AMZÎN Vase by IBKKI
Handcrafted in the Djurdjura region of Algeria, IBKKI vases have idiosyncratic qualities that are the result of the unique manufacturing process they are developed from. Using artistic and artisanal skills that are derived from age-old ancestral techniques, the earthenware vessels are fired and glazed several times to give them their distinct color effects and depth perceptions. When you opt for the AMZÎN Vase, you can be sure that you’re getting a one-of-a-kind piece with high craftsmanship and materiality.
Shop the Delicate Dash Ring by SOKO
A minimalist design made from 24k gold-plated brass, the Delicate Dash Ring is the handiwork of Kenyan artisans convened by women-led accessories brand SOKO. Based in Nairobi, the brand connects marginalized artisans directly to the global marketplace through their craft, building an inclusive and sustainable economy along the way.
Shop the Zaza Saffron Bag by Anima Iris
Founded by Cameroonian-born Wilglory Tanjong, Anima Iris is a modern accessories brand that creates modern, statement handbags that display the vibrancy of African design. Created by specialist Senegalese artisans, the brand’s handbags, such as the Zaza Saffron Bag, are handcrafted in Dakar from calf leather sourced locally in limited quantities. Designs are inspired by the palm oil reds of Cameroon’s traditional Bamileke cloth, or the geometric shapes of Ghana’s Kente, each piece a reflection of Africa’s bold history.
Shop the Rafina mules by Rhita SebtiMoroccan footwear designer Rhita Sebti puts her own spin on the classic babouche slippers that have been worn in the Middle East for centuries. Blending tradition and modernity, with style and comfort in mind, the eponymous brand offers flat babouches, mule sandals and wedge slippers, embellished with crystals and beads. Made from natural raffia with leather lining, the Rafina style has become a staple since its debut in the summer of 2019. Each pair is crafted by the skilled hands of Moroccan artisans using their ancestral know-how to bring the traditional shoe to the present day.