Do Try This At Home: Glam Africa Editorial

Now that we have the store down in Pop Brixton and we're meeting more and more of you in person (yay), lots of you keep mentioning that you think African fabrics are only for the summer when bright prints are the norm.  

So when super stylist Cindy Hudson asked to incorporate some of our African brands into an Autumn editorial for Glam Africa Magazine, we thought it was a great opportunity to show off some tips on how you can wear colour all year round. 

1. Frame your prints

Our brown Mafrika shift dress is looks great as a block of pattern underneath a more neutral coloured coat. Not vogueing in a studio? Pull on some tights and some knee length boots for a warm but just as striking look. 

2. Make polo necks your bestie

We've said it before and we'll say it again- don't banish your summer tops into storage just yet. Just pop a light polo underneath and you're good to go for another couple of months at least like Lulu has done with our Chichia tassled vest top below. 

3. Basic is good, if its burgundy. 

There's just something so wintery about the colour burgundy. Maybe because it reminds us all of spicy mulled wine but its a staple of every cold season, and is a great way of brightening up basics. Our Ivorian brand Awale do a gorgeous high waisted burgundy cotton culottes in grey and burgundy which are great for adding some interest to your office uniform. 

If you'd like some help putting together some looks for your Autumn wardrobe or if you're interested in any of the items featured, come down and see us in our Pop Brixton store or send us an email.  

On a sidenote, how gorgeous is model Lulu Stone? These images aren't featuring our African designers but they are still awesome Autumn style inspiration so we're throwing them in for free because we're generous like that. 

How to pull off your Summer wardrobe, in Autumn

Matching two piece sets have been a big summer trend this year from the runways to celebrity street style. It's not surprising as the sunshine in London has been so elusive this summer that losing Vitamin D rays while you fanny about trying to put outfits togetherdoesn't make sense when you can just throw on a printed two piece set and be out the door to claim your patch of green to lie back on. And from the way the lot of you practically inhaled our matching sets crop top and culotte sets this summer from our new (and first) Malawian brand, Mafrika, we're among likeminds. You've traipsed through festivals in them, holidayed in Croatia, dutty wined across Carnival and lazed in London's parks in colourful swirls of pinks, blues and greens. 

Now we know summer is on its way out, but there's no need to relegate them into storage for next summer just yet. Pop a light knitted polo neck under the crop tops, add some tights and boots and you've just transitioned perfectly into Autumn. Pair the skirts and shorts with a cropped denim or leather jacket over a chunky knitted jumper, and you're warm but not yet lost in the wintertime swarm of dark neutrals. There's a long winter ahead, so we might as well milk these summer colours as long as possible. 

We have the last few pieces left which are exclusively available in our Pop Brixton store so come by and say get yours while stocks last.

We're open Tuesdays to Sundays 10am - 10pm. 

Mafrika Malawi Summer Style African Printed Two Sets Styled By Africa.jpg

Stories of Summer with Chichia London

"What's your favourite SBA brand?" is a question we get asked very often, most recently while filming an episode of Digital Diaries for Spice TV last week. The truth is this that for a brand to be in the SBA boutique in the first place means it's a firm favourite  so it's hard to choose one. But we do have favourites according to what kind of look we're channelling that day. 

When it comes to the edgier end of the African aesthetic and we're feeling fun and flirty, Chichia London is our first port of call. We love the signature artful application of the traditional East African cotton khanga fabrics which are usually worn by local women as wraps, but seen here re-invented into strong silhouettes and feminine shapes.  

The new Chichia London Spring Summer 2015 collection is just as playful, called Hadithi Hadithi meaning 'story story' in Swahili, taking inspiration from childhood stories to inject some nostalgic fun and humour into your summer wardrobe. 

We tried on the collection and selected two of our favourite dresses for the boutique that we think you'll love. The 'BARA BARA' stripe patchwork dress was an instant win. It's loose tunic fit is perfect with flat sandals for a casual summer's evening, or dress it up for a night out with the girls when trying on your more tightly fitted dresses are making you feel like you'd rather stay in.  The 'KULA BATA' on the other hand is a certified party dress. As soon as you slip it on you'll feel like going out in search of somewhere to throw some shapes. Be sure to let us know where the party is!  

 

Chichia London Spring Summer Alae Ismail Styled By Africa

Goodbye Beige! Hello Technicoloured Dreamcoats

SBA Co-founder, alae ismail in kinabuti trench coat

SBA Co-founder, alae ismail in kinabuti trench coat

Clouds of pink cherry blossom trees, ice cream vans hunting for children on their Easter holidays, people in running gear frantically trying to get fit before summer hits. London's streets are filling up again with the return of the sun. When I'm in Zimbabwe, where I grew up, our seasons are very sure of themselves- either dry or rainy. None of this indecisive dance that London's seasons like to play as they transition, but there is something about the celebration of newness and anticipation of the coming summer that makes it all very endearing at this time of year. 

Here at SBA we have many new things we're working on that we can't wait to tell you about in the next few weeks. In the meantime we can tell you that we've found some exciting new brands for the store on our recent travels to Ghana and Nigeria, including this sneak peek of the exquisitely tailored jackets from a brand in Lagos called Kinabuti that will hit the shop next week. 

It's a great alternative for the more adventurous and fun loving of us, who think that while the British institution of the beige Spring trench coat is classic, it's also downright boring. Nothing expresses your optimism for the year ahead like a bit of beige! 

We have much to be grateful for and excited about this Spring- we'll be doing it in colour thanks! 

Written by: Kiran Yoliswa, SBA Co-Founder  (If you can't wait to get your hands on one, send us an email at styledbyafrica@gmail.com.)  

kinabuti african fashion spring print jacket

Date night with TAARIK

Beyazid Mosque, istanbul

Beyazid Mosque, istanbul

Blue Mosque, Istanbul 

Blue Mosque, Istanbul 

I’ve just come back from a quick weekend getaway exploring the markets, food, and beautiful architecture of Istanbul. Just what I needed before heading back to London for the crazy Valentines Day weekend- don’t worry gents I’ll save my thoughts on V-day for another blog post. Disappointingly the weather was not much better than London and I was warned to pack warm, so it was thanks to the style gods that our new SBA brand TAARIK arrived in time from Ethiopia. 

Like our award winning ZAAF leather bags, TAARIK works with local artisans to preserve traditional artisanal craftsmanship. TAARIK’s cotton fabrics are woven on looms using distinct sets of yarn and thread which ensures that every scarf has a unique look and soft feel. The Arba Minch tribe in Southern Ethiopia have been using this technique for centuries to keep warm during breezy mornings and late nights. And as more people opt for long lasting items in their wardrobe, the TAARIK scarf collection is a great investment piece that will be with you for lot’s of memorable years.

Dorza Yellow Taarik scarf, London 

Dorza Yellow Taarik scarf, London 

Dressing up in TAARIK’s cool range has been my playground, my excitement almost the same as Carrie's (Sex and The City) Manolo Blahnik obsession before date nights with Big. And just like a good pair of heels, the scarves make you feel sexy and glamourous but with the added bonus that they won't leave you in pain at the end of the night making them the perfect winter warmer. 

Hadiya Red Taarik scarf, London

Hadiya Red Taarik scarf, London

When I’m running late and dashing out of the house, the Dorza Yellow scarf is ideal because a quick whip round my shoulders and I'm ready to hit the office. It’s light colour and hints of black means that it can go with anything in my wardrobe from sneakers to high heel boots.

The Hadiya Red scarf has been our personal favourite so far, the rouge red colour blended with white and black stripes compliments any skin tone and make you look effortlessly cool. I’ve also been using it as my alternative blanket scarf… so no need for me to go to Zara - I’m sticking to something that I can keep for years.

Dorza Red Taarik Scarf, london

Dorza Red Taarik Scarf, london

With V-day in the air, the Dorza Red is the perfect ‘something red’ piece to get your loved one and to wear on your special date night. If you’re anti-Valentines day and like me believe that cupid is on a long vacation leaving his bow at home, don’t worry because you can still treat yourself to any of the Dorza, Hadiya and Mata range all year round without having to go near the word. Simples. 

To find out more information about TAARIK and shop the look visit us here

Happy Love Day everyone! 

Alae x x
Co-Founder of Styled By Africa

'Tis The Season, So Celebrate In Style

Maame in Njema Helena Birgitta Dress

Maame in Njema Helena Birgitta Dress

Short days and frosty dark evenings that start at 4pm have finally descended on London and it's taking all we can muster not to lock ourselves at home, build a duvet fortress and spend the winter watching the entire Netflix library. Winter warmer snuggle buddies are frantically being auditioned by friends, mulled wine is being stockpiled, and the 'I think I might just stay in tonight' texts are becoming increasingly common. 

But the good thing about this side of winter is that along with the frost, comes the start of the festive season to keep us merry, at least until January after which we are all free to descend into full blown winter depression until Spring. The Christmas lights have been turned on and we have two months of festive spirit and partying ahead of us. If there was ever a time to stay in, this isn't it! We're celebrating people! 

Which means it's also not the time for sticking to the traditional winter variations of grey grey and more grey outfits. For Styled By Africa, the festive season has coincided perfectly with the arrival of a new jewel print collection from Kenyan brand Njema Helena to SHOP SBA. If anyone knows how to celebrate in style it's Ghanaians, so we convinced our woman crush Maame Adjei, Producer of hit show An African City, who was visiting us in London from Accra to show us how to work a warm but glamourous look this winter as we party hop across town. 

Boardroom to Bar

Njema Helena has curated a collection of beautiful winter statement pieces, including this playful backless Birgitta dress. The great part about this dress is that with the right blazer it's perfect for making the right impression at an important meeting, then come 6pm ditch the blazer, whip on some Ruby Woo lipstick and you're ready to let the sexy out at one of the many upcoming Christmas parties. 

Go Shorty  

Now I know we recently wrote 'Look Mama No Short-Shorts' in our last blog post, but the party season is the clear caveat we forgot to mention. These Djamilla high waisted shorts are an exception to the rule for gatherings indoors. Brave the cold and wear them under a chunky jumper. Woolly tights are obviously a must- we said brave not foolish! 

Maame in Njema Helena Djamilla High Wasted Shorts 

Maame in Njema Helena Djamilla High Wasted Shorts 

Moves like Jagger 

Style icon Bianca Jagger knew what she was doing when she made turbans her trademark look- these bad boys are as toasty as they are stylish. For every day chic we've been outsmarting the frost in the midi Kattia skirt with a turban, woolly jumpers and an oversized jacket. The designer behind Njema Helena is Cecilia Ostman, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York who’s also designed for international fashion labels including Ralph Lauren. We love how Cecilia has managed to capture the everyday aesthetic, making it so easy to mix up and layer her pieces with our usual winter staples wool jumpers, turtlenecks and thick tights to make them a bit more festive fun. It's good to know that the light cotton fabric means we won't have to give them up come spring either. 

maame adjei an african city njema helena

So when you're ready to embrace the fun lover in you, Njema Helena is here to help you look the part. You can also visit our pop up African Gift Shop on the 29th November (10am-6pm) at Hassan Hajjaj's Boutique, 30-32 Calvert Ave, Shoreditch, London for our SBA Festive Takeover event and try all these goodies on, add them to your Christmas list and for the generous among you treat the special women in your life to something unique this season. 

Written by Alae Ismail & Kiran Yoliswa, Founders of Styled By Africa

Styling by Alae Ismail 
Photography by Roxanne Tataei 


Look Mum, No Short-Shorts!

“You must be joking with that skirt! Does she think she’s leaving the house like that?”

That or a very similarly themed exclamation can often be heard from my mum whenever I try to discreetly leave the house, and even this skirt in question ended very respectably at my knee.  Given my muslim background my poor mum is still coming to terms with my unconventional fashion sense and has spent most of my post-pubescent years trying to convince me that long skirts can be cool. 

These days she watches me leave the house with a smug smile on her face since I discovered the power of the midi skirt thanks to our Tanzanian brand Chichia London. It seems I’m not the only one ditching my short-shorts for longer dresses and skirts. Leandra Medine, aka The Man Repeller, recently wrote a blog post asking “Are Legs Out?”, while the summer’s best style moments were filled with a midi-length glamour that will continue well into autumn. 

This is deeper than fashion trends however. Having recently turned 26 it feels like with the acquisition of a whole new age group tick box, my style is also going through it’s own coming of age as we try to build the careers and relationships of our future. Looking ‘office appropriate’ can quickly descend into a dull swathe of navy and black skirt suits however so Chichia’s colourful midi skirts keep everything from getting too serious- and the ‘Mzuka’ one even has sneaky slit on the side to keep things playful out of office hours. 

Kiran and I have been embracing this look everywhere from lazy days in the park with sneakers or after work dinners with friends at a chic West End restaurant in simple heels. Our mother’s have been so pleased we haven’t had the heart to show them the snaps of our trip to Ghana where it was so hot short shorts were basically a health requirement, besides which you just can't do the azonto in a midi. While we haven’t given them up completely, we certainly have more time for longer lengths. Let’s just give thanks for Facebook’s parent friendly limited sharing settings!  

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By Alae Ismail, Co-Founder SBA 

Shop the Midi Look 

Surviving Autumn, African Stylie

So October awkwardness has arrived in London and it’s finally too cold to keep clinging on to the summer dresses we've been running around in the past few months.  Yet still too warm for those thick jewel coloured winter coats without looking a bit dramatic, not to mention sweaty. In the meantime the clocks haven't even gone back yet, which is when you know winter just got real, so navigating this tricky transitional phase is such an art that we say a three day weekend should be instated during this time for us to recover from the stress of it all.

The key is finding things that distract you from the depressing thought that as everyone keeps reminding us, as if we’re living in an episode of Game of Thrones, that winter is coming. Our plan of action consists of eye catching jackets, head-turning prints, and statement accessories that will divert attention away from our seasonal depression. 

Turns out it’s a lot easier to embrace Autumn after ten days in Accra's rainy season trying to avoid being eaten alive by Ghanaian mosquitos, which FYI are the size of small birds. On a cool Accra evening all we needed was a quick wrap of everyone's favourite Tanzanian brand Chichia London’s Moyoni blazer around the shoulders, which helpfully also confused away even the most adventurous mosquitos. Now back in London this is going to be the real piece de resistance to our Autumn style, mostly because it's nonsensical to be sad in a purple blazer with orange hearts all over it. I reckon we can get away with short jackets for another couple of months so we've been living in the Moyoni on those days when you want to look everything but basic, and our green Choolips quilted bomber jacket for when you want your casual to look more warm sports luxe. 

kiran chichia london wima trousers moyini jacket .jpg

We’re also relunctantly starting to wear pants again, but when they are as fun as these blue Chichia London ones we really don't mind. Paired with a structured shirt and dark blazer they’re also a great way to keep some summer colour in your office wardrobe even as the days get darker.

Or layer up a mix of prints that can be strategically peeled off and on as the temperamental weather dictates. If there's one thing we learnt in Ghana it was to fully embrace print on print on print. Walking through a city where wearing plain black will prompt "sister is everything ok-o?" questions, you quickly lose your printhibitions in ode to the inspiring fabrics constantly on display. 

As it gets colder you can keep the look by swopping out the silky under blouses for progressively chunkier knits until it really is time to surrender all hope of leaving the house wrapped in anything but a duvet with a belt on it. Or make like SBA and fly South for the winter, pop your prints back on and post your smug smile to Instagram. Hashtag winning. 

By Kiran Yoliswa, Co-Founder Styled By Africa 

Our Autumn Favourites 

Chichia London Moyoni Blazer 

Chichia London Wima Trousers 

Chichia London Wima Trousers 

ZAAF Collection Blue Spruce Leather Handbag 

ZAAF Collection Blue Spruce Leather Handbag 

Choolips Quilted Jacket

Choolips Quilted Jacket

Making It In Milan: Getting Biffi with Christie Brown & Stella Jean

While in Milan last week to see four of Ghana’s most promising fashion brands showcase at IED Moda (which we blogged about here), we promised the Ethical Fashion Initiative team that we wouldn’t leave Milan without going to see the Biffi Boutique on Corsa Genova to see a couple of the more established brands EFI work with, Christie Brown and Stella Jean.

Known as early supporters of many emerging turned powerhouse brands including Kenzo, Yohji Yamamoto and for their authentic statement pieces, Biffi is a Milano fashion destination in itself so walking through Biffi’s doors and seeing Christie Brown’s light and vibrant summer dresses hanging delicately next to Dior, Fendi and Marc Jacobs felt incredible. Not just because we spent the next hour trying on everything in sight, but because it felt special to see African design being appreciated internationally simply for being beautiful, interesting and exquisitely made.

Christie Brown Spring/Summer Collection 2014, Biffi Boutique  

Christie Brown Spring/Summer Collection 2014, Biffi Boutique  

Here in London people often say to us “I love African fashion but I don’t know where I would wear it.” Yet trying on Christie Brown’s SS14 collection in store, we couldn’t think of many places we wouldn’t wear her pieces, whose warm and natural patchwork patterns were instantly uplifting.

Twirling the store in the light dresses they instantly felt perfect for hot London days of meetings with a blazer for professional measure, strolling around Brooklyn chanelling our inner Solange (print princess not elevator ninja), or for a bit of midnight cool at the beach parties we’ve been promised on our upcoming trip to Accra in August. Christie Brown has truly found the right mix of global woman and ‘taste of Africa’.

Christie Brown and Stella Jean collection at the Biffi Boutique 

Christie Brown and Stella Jean collection at the Biffi Boutique 

Alae in Christie Brown Spring/Summer Collection 2014, Biffi Boutique

Alae in Christie Brown Spring/Summer Collection 2014, Biffi Boutique

Kiran in Christie Brown Spring/Summer Collection 2014, Biffi Boutique

Kiran in Christie Brown Spring/Summer Collection 2014, Biffi Boutique

Seeing these products in a store in Milan is not about thinking that international validation is what makes us good enough, but as an opportunity for African design to contribute to a global creative conversation in a way that we own. In a way that breaks open expectations of what African fashion is supposed to look like in the minds of the people who look at the labels inside the dresses and are perhaps pleasantly surprised to find its a Ghanaian brand.

Probably because Biffi display it just like any other brand in store. More often than not when we see African products on sale internationally it’s as pity products where customers are urged to buy them to achieve a charitable end. This collaboration with Biffi on the other hand as EFI put it is #notcharityjustwork. Christie Brown is competing globally on design and quality, yet their success creates meaningful work in the communities in which they are based the same way buying Hermes does for artisans in Paris.  

Styled By Africa with Frederica Ricci, Corporate Communications Manger, Biffi Spa

Styled By Africa with Frederica Ricci, Corporate Communications Manger, Biffi Spa

We’ve been following this brand for sometime and it’s great to see designer Aisha Obuobi’s collections getting stronger and bolder every season. Unsurprisingly, Christie Brown is steadily gaining more and more international press featuring in Harpers Bazaar, Vogue Italia and Glamour Magazine to mention just a few. We’re more impressed however with her partnership with the Ethical Fashion Initiative to produce more of her collection in Ghana and experiment with the traditional aesthetic.

 

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stelle Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stelle Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stelle Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stelle Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

We’re also big fans of Stella Jean and since watching her Spring Summer 2014 Collection live in the grand Armani Teatro during Milan Fashion Week last year, we’ve been waiting to get our hands on her playful pieces ourselves. Through the Ethical Fashion Initiative Stella sourced some of her materials from Burkina Faso in West Africa, working into a collection bursting with colour, pattern and texture in her dresses and skirts.

Not content with a menswear and children's wear collection too, but Stella is now also working with the Ethical Fashion Initiative to produce a jewellery collection with artisans in Haiti. Her statement necklaces are filled with multicoloured glass crystal embellishments, chain link design and signature patterned fabric backs to give us some next level glam. What more could a girl ask for?

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014, Biffi Boutique 

With our flight to London calling we begrudgingly left Milan but hope to return to Italy very soon for the EFI’s "Beat of Africa" fashion show in Rome later this month to see the SS15 collections of Stella Jean, Duabo Serwa and Mina Evans from Ghana, and Jewel By Lisa from Nigeria but more on that later.

In the meantime find out more about the amazing work the Ethical Fashion Initiative do with talented emerging designers and artisans in Africa to promote trade .

Follow them on Facebook at TheEthicalFashionInitiative and tweet @_ethicalfashion using the hashtag #notcharityjustwork .

Thank you to the Biffi team for giving us the royal treatment!

P.S. To get your hands on some of Christie Brown and Stella Jeans' beautiful treats visit the Biffi Boutique here

Written by Alae Ismail & Kiran Yoliswa Co-Founder of Styled By Africa 
Photography: Styled By Africa Ltd

#IAMSBA: Bold & Beautiful

Earlier this week I received a text from a good friend of mine asking "I know this sounds silly, but when you and Alae started SBA were you scared?". My response? "Definitely! I still am!" But I'm also a big believer that what you focus on determines how you feel. Rather than trying to pretend we're fearless, with SBA we embrace the fear but try to focus on feeling bold, beautiful and courageous enough to go for it anyway. 

For us that's making sure that our days are filled with a combination of the right friends and clothes that make us feel the most empowered, positive and inspired. 

With a spring sun currently shining over London, life does feel a bit awesome right now but sometimes we do glance back at our black hole of doom to-do list and feel like...

 

...which can make that colourful confidence quickly give way to simple survival.  An interview we recently did with Ideas Tap for their 'Job Of The Week' feature reminded us of this darker side of ambition and looking through some of the other interviews, lots of people shared our challenge of work life balance and the 'overwhelmed brain'. With to-do lists that will NEVER end, we're all becoming more sucked into the #RiseandGrind.  But as well as investing in our businesses and careers, are we investing quality time with the friends who make us feel recharged enough to continue to present our best selves to the world and keep up the momentum of our mission? 

The interview reminded us to make sure we're also scheduling some guilt-free time in our schedules for our 'move a body' friends who embrace our struggles and nurture our strengths.  

The ones where quick catch ups turn into hours of belly laughs, and ideally cake. 

In our case, definitely cake. 

With both friends and fashion it's easy to get comfortable settling for same old, but if you're committed to living your best life, why waste time on anything that doesn't contribute to feeling at your best? 

Two of our favourite African designers, Chichia London and Sindiso Khumalo, always make us feel our most confident and glamourous. Just like the greatest of our friends, their colourful power prints don't allow us to be wallflowers, giving us the right energy before that important meeting or presentation. 

There is no better time to be visible, take a stand on what contribution you want to make and strive to give your journey and the people around you your best energy. 

After some quality down time catching up this weekend and our colourful confidence reinvigorated, we're ready to take on whatever the universe has in store for us and hope you are too. 

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Seriously, just try and mess with us this week. 

Author: Kiran Yoliswa, Co-Founder SBA

Images captured by Tapiwa Chasi

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