Fashion Forward: The Afropolitan Shop is an online boutique by Beverly Lwenya, a Kenyan-American with a desire to tell an African Design Story. It began as a blog in 2007 called The Afropolitan Network, which highlighted stories and images of what black people from all the continents were doing in the Diaspora. The hobby grew into a passion and now a full-time pursuit. Beverly aims to celebrate African designers and artisans for their prolific and imaginative handiwork while giving them access to the global market.
The pieces above are by designers Kushn, Nina Afrique, and the Afropolitan Collection 2012. All are available for purchase at The Afropolitan Shop
Anwar Rayners is the very talented pattern maker & craftsman for Kushn who has been working in the leather industry since he was 13! We’re in awe of Anwar’s passion and dedication to his craft. He tells us that it’s the challenge of creating something new that keeps him inspired everyday.
After leaving school at 13 to find work to support his family, he worked for various Cape Town-based leather manufacturing and design companies, picking up many different skills along the way. We know from working with him that there’s very little Anwar cant’ do. We’re really proud that Anwar is the pattern maker for Kushn and the maker of these beautiful I-Pad sleeves which will be available soon.
Greer: Hey Anwar, thanks for taking time out to chat to us.
Anwar: It’s a pleasure. Fire away!
G: Ok, so when did you start working in the leather craft business?
A: Well I started at quite a young age. I left school at the age of 13 because it was really tough at home financially back then so I had to drop out and look for work.
G: Oh wow. And how did you end up working with leather?
A: I basically took the first job I could get through a relative and ended up working at a leather factory in Cape Town and that’s where everything started.
G: Did you work as a pattern maker?
A: No I didn’t. I started off as general helper working under two guys responsible for framing, fresh cuts, riveting etc. When they left, I took over and progressed until I eventually learnt every process required to put a leather product together.
G: So you learnt the trade on the job?
A: Ja, I didn’t go through any formal training. What I know now about making a bag or designing a bag, I picked up along the way.
G: And you clearly enjoy what you do…
A: Ja! I’m really passionate about it. I’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s what I know and what I’m good at, so yeah.
G: Thanks Anwar. We’ll leave it there for now. We’ve both got work to do!
A: No problem, thanks for letting me share on your blog.
I’ve been playing with the idea of designing my own fabrics to be used in the Kushn collection. So I’ve started a board on pinterest to help me source ideas for fabric designs. I’m not sure exactly what the fabrics will look like, but I’m thinking bold geometric prints inspired by the colours, stories and patterns found on Kitenge and Kente cloth. Here are some of my pattern finds.
Buying local means job-creation, improved competitiveness and boosting new and existing enterprises. That’s why we’re excited to be supplying a new store that celebrates South African products, artisans and designers. The shop is called ‘Made in SA’ and is located at O.R TAMBO International Airport. Our full range is available in store and we’ll hopefully be adding some new products in the near future. :)
These beautiful strips of Kente cloth were made for specially for us by weavers from Sakora Wonoo, Ghana. The Kente is produced by individuals in their own looms.
Like most of Africa’s visual art forms, Kente is a visual representation of history, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, religious belief, social values and political thought.
We are interested in looking at ways in which the traditional arts (like weaving) or leather making merge with new technology and we’re excited to partner with the weavers and to share this beautiful art form with the world.