Art and culture

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Summer essential: The ethical t-shirt by Run and Fell

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T-shirts! What’s there to say about t-shirts that has not already been said? It’s a t-shirt, it’s a t-shirt, and a t-shirt! Those were my exact thoughts when I got the invitation to the launch of Run and Fell a t-shirt brand opening a pop-up store in Chelsea, London.

I was convinced there was nothing new for me to learn and write about when it comes to t-shirts. In fact the Style and fashion aspect to my blog is focused on the dapper and dandy look which has no place for t-shirts. Well at least that was what I thought before I read the entire invitation which went on to state the uniqueness of this brand. Simply put, I was wrong.

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The unique concept behind the pop-up store involves directly connecting the customer with the manufacturing process. Customers are becoming increasingly aware and discerning when it comes to the ethics of the Fashion industry. The “big idea” for the RUN&FELL pop-up is to promote ethical garment production, and to enable customers to engage with and explore elements of the production process first hand” said Naomi Jackson (designer and owner of Run and Fell) in her email to me. I don’t know about you but this got my attention. Run and Fell seem to have stepped away from the usual manic consumerism everyone is used to where items of clothing are churn out with little or no regard for the process or the material used to create them. I mean we have all heard of the chaotic and sometimes dangerous conditions (branded sweatshop) in which many items of clothing were made from around the world. Run and Fell’s ethos couldn’t have been further away from this. Phew, what a breath of fresh air. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am sure you would have heard of other brands promoting the ethical side of their business but for a brand to actually be so keen as to draw their customers into the intricate process of how the garment is produced is commendable. To me, this demonstrates care and pride in the product.

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Another aspect of Run and Fell that really spoke to me is the fact that the brand is proudly and unapologetically British. Many brands have in the past spent millions on repackaging their products as foreign before going back to the country of origin to give them a luxurious or exotic feel. Run and Fell does not only fly the British flag, it also proudly incorporate the local spirit and history of Manchester  “our roots are threaded deep into the creative heart of the cotton city, “Cottonopolis” itself” as stated in their story.

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Speaking to Naomi during the evening of the Launch, it was obvious that Run and Fell is not just another brand aiming to make a few quid from the sale of a few t-shirt but was committed to creating a piece of garment she truly believed in. The passion and standards she spoke with was in line with the physical product I had in my hand. The texture was one of quality whiles the designs channelled originality and creativity.

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Run and Fell is a great example of a sustainable ethical garment brand with an attitude of substance and integrity over everything else.

Listen, its summer and everyone needs a t-shirt so head over to Run and Fell’s online store and make yourself a purchase you will be happy with.

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Traditional wedding – The Yoruba way

 

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As summer ushers in the peak wedding season for UK residents, its fitting for me to share some images of an amazing wedding I attended a few months ago between friends of mine Abi and Sam. This was not just any other wedding but a traditional Nigerian wedding.

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Anyone who has ever been to a Nigerian wedding will tell you that they are colourful, lengthy, entertaining, vibrant and big. I mean there is no dull moment in a Nigerian wedding and Abi and Sam’s wedding was no exception. Armed with the knowledge that food and Afrobeat music was going to be in plentiful supply, I was determined to have an amazing time. After all, this would be my first experience of a traditional Nigerian or more appropriately, a Yoruba wedding.

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Traditional African weddings are as old as humanity itself. In fact they are only referred to as such to differentiate them from western style weddings more commonly known as “white weddings”. The term white wedding has its roots from the Victorian era when Queen Victoria wore a white lace to marry Prince Albert in 1840. I don’t know why Queen Victoria thought it necessary to break the norm of wearing coloured garments but this has somehow become the de facto dress code for brides, with the entire ceremony now referred to as white wedding. I guess she has earned herself the title of trendsetter when it comes to wedding dresses.

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Fast-forward to current day, a lot of couples choose to do both white and Traditional African weddings to cater for the Christian religious aspect and to bring in line their traditional identity as is customary in most tribes in Africa. Even though some might argue that traditional weddings are only an engagement ceremony and a prelude to white wedding, I happen to think that they have all the pedigree to make them full weddings depending on how the ceremony is carried out. Anyway, I am not a wedding expert so I will leave that for you to decide.

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What Abi and Sam wore was absolutely beautiful. Not only are the colours vibrant and beautiful, the style encapsulate the tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Their garments are both made from a special cloth called Asa oke fabric hand loomed in western Nigeria. Asa oke means top cloth in English.

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What they wore

Abi:

Iro – a red with gold floral wrap skirt
Buba – a gold blouse
Gele – a red with gold floral head tie
Earring – Red and gold earring with matching necklace.
Shoes – Christian Louboutin

Sam

Agbada – Red and gold outer wear
Trouser – Cream linen
Shirt – Cream linen
Hat – Red and gold made from Aso oke
Shoes – Jimmy Choo

I am sure you will agree with me that this wonderful couple knows how to mix traditional attire with high end fashion to create a beautiful whole.

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This was truly an amazing ceremony I was honoured to be a part of and if you are not familiar with the Yoruba tradition and custom of marriage, I hope you have learnt something new. If you are Yoruba or familiar to the tradition, feel free to leave a comment below if there is anything you would like to add. Enjoy the rest of the photos.

Congratulations Abi and Sam!

Fashion Week London 2015 – Africa style

Cuts for him met with – Left to Right: Ginny (frogirlginny Blogger), Maggie Smith (model and winner of face of Africa Fashion Week London 2015), and Rene Daniella (Ownbyfemme Lifestyle blogger),
Designed by Soraya Da Piedade. Modelled by Somer Louise

Africa Fashion Week London or AFWL has come a long way since its inception in 2011. This year’s event was held at the Olympia London on the 7th and 8th of August. It is another great example of how the African culture and lifestyle is influencing and taking roots in London as mentioned in my post August in Africa summer festival 15. AFWL is by a wide margin the largest catwalk event in Europe celebrating African styles and designs and has caught the attention of many even beyond Africa and Europe. The show has attracted over 300 hundred designers and more than 40, 000 visitors.

I personally have little reservations about a few designers’ commitment to pushing the art from being a dream to truly becoming an avant-garde were by the framework for future African fashion is laid. Up to the point of typing this post, my research laid bare, for the lack of web presence on some of the designers and exhibitors.
Living in a world where everything points towards digital, its surprising this minority have not tapped into this area to make themselves known.

Nsoromma by Tribal Piece


Notwithstanding, collectively the runway shows for 2015 have been spectacular with many designers pushing the boundaries to widen the horizon of what is expected from an “African” themed fashion show.
It is no longer the case where Ankara and Kente dominates the catwalk to represent the entire continent.
For many years, designers have used these two fabric types to create what they saw as the embodiment of African fashion.
To my delight, this is no longer the case and even for those who use Ankara and Kente have done so in such clever ways as to show a different dimension to the art of designing.

Mary Martin London - Cecil the Lion inspired dress
Mary Martin London – Cecil the Lion inspired dress


A good example is Mary Martin London. Mary Martin showcased some beautiful pieces to include a Cecil the Lion inspired dress. “When I saw the lion on TV I was deeply shocked” said Martin as she was interviewed by the BBC world service. Martin spent many nights working on the dress in time for the show. Other designers who showcased beautiful pieces on the catwalk for the 6:30 show on Saturday were:

Amanda May
Needle point
Soraya da Piedade
Vanelse
Sarah Arthman
Kilumba
Steve Mandy
Nsoromma by Tribal Piece

The organisers did a fantastic job to put this show together and i think it is going to get bigger and better in the coming years. I am already looking forward to AFWL16. As a men’s fashion and lifestyle blogger, i wish there were more men’s fashion designers out there. May be this is an area up and coming fashion enthusiasts need to look into.
Browse through the photos and let me know what you think by leaving a comment

 

August in Africa Summer Festival 2015

African art, craft, food, music and culture are fast taking roots in London and beyond. You only have to pop into any event with a slight connotation of African culture during the warmer months of the year to see the different style and designs of Ankara and Kente garments donned by men and women alike. Not that these two fabric types are the only African cloth but these are more easily recognisable due to their vibrancy and the amount of people who wear them. In fact there are so many other African textiles well worth exploring such as Akwete cloth, Ukara (both from the Igbo people of Nigeria), Aso Oke Fabric, Adire (from the Yoruba people of Nigeria), Mudcloth from the Bambara people of parts of Mali, Guinea, Burkino Faso and Senegal, Kitenge and Shweshwe from Kenya and South Africa respectively. Did you know that the earliest surviving African textile discovered dates back to the first Century CE? This was discovered at the Archaeological site of Kissi in Burkino Faso.

African food itself is becoming a staple for many as new restaurants serving different African cuisines continue to pop up in the city. That is all nothing compared to the way Afrobeat (a highbred of Jazz, highlife and funk) with West African origins, have taken hold of England. There’s no way you can go to any night club in central London without at least a handful of Afrobeat songs being played to an appreciative audience.

So it came as no surprise when I walked into the Covent Garden piazza area on Saturday the 1st of August to hundreds and hundreds of people happily floating in and out of the area. Covent Garden was truly alive with vibrant coloured garments, delicious smelling food and upbeat sound of music that is unmistakably Afrobeat. The atmosphere was electrifying to say the least.

Because I did not have the opportunity to dive into a massive plate of Jollof rice and Plantains, I was particularly looking forward to being entertained by the lyrical specialist and poet that is Alim Kamara. This young man has a way of playing with words like no other. I have been fortunate to see him perform live on several occasions and he always delivers. In fact he was the only act of the day I could vouch for based on experience. To my disappointment, I was too late and I missed his performance. Imagine my dismay. However, Fuse ODE who performed just after I got there made up for this disappointment. Fuse ODG has become a household name in the UK with big collaborations with Wyclef and Sean Paul in “Antenna” and “Dangerous love” respectively. One of the things that made Fuse ODG a standout act to me is his thirst to show Africa as a thriving continent with much more to offer than the stereotypical and outright wrong image of the continent. His music or should I say movement does not only have good beat but carries a political message and a message of hope for a new Africa.

The event came to a fitting end with the fantastic and soulful performance of the Nigerian French singer and songwriter, ASA. I mean I could write a whole blog post about this woman’s performance and it wouldn’t be enough. Listening to her serenade the crowd with songs such as “Fire on the mountain”, “Eyo” and many more beautiful ones highlights an influence of great artists such as Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Her performance left the very diverse crowd from different background wanting more and a great example of how African cultures have impacted this great city of London.

The festival itself was organised by the Africa centre that has a 50 year history with the aim of promoting Africa’s cultural diversity outside the continent. It literally provides a hub for creativity, innovation and business in all matters pertaining to Africa.

In case you are one of the unlucky ones who did not get to see this wonderful event, make sure to check out the pictures below. Leave a comment and question! And if you were there, then feel free to add to the conversation by posting a comment below. Ta