Designer delicacies from Lagos to London — savvy shopping at some of the best boutiques at Arik destinations.
Words Enyinne Owunwanne
Whether you’re going surfing in South Africa or heading to Lagos for back-to-back meetings, a little retail therapy is a great way to relax after a long day of work (or play).
Forget about keychain souvenirs and t-shirts that will inevitably become pajamas. Pick up something unique and unforgettable for you, for yours, for home. You won’t necessarily have to fly to Nairobi to bring back a Maasai adorned accessory, nor do you have to head to Paris to bring back the latest in luxury fashion. From New York to Lagos, Joburg to Accra, here’s a list of the hottest shopping destinations for all of your sartorial desires.
Clic Bookstore & Gallery
Best For: Contemporary African Art and Coffee Table Books
Clic Bookstore & Gallery, tucked away on a corner in New York City’s trendy Soho neighborhood, provides the perfect African-inspired escape within this chic shopping destination. From the moment you enter, you’re welcomed with larger-than-life photos, often times depicting the beauty of indigenous African tribes. The Samburu people of Kenya, photographed by Lyle Owerko is consistently on heavy rotation on the gallery walls, and rightfully so.
Meander to the back of the gallery for an extensive selection of contemporary African coffee table books, ranging from the sought after “Gentlemen of Bacongo” by photographer Daniel Tamagni, to collectors tomes’ such as “Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley”.
If you happen to get away for the weekend while you’re in New York, you’ll find outposts of Clic Bookstore & Gallery in the East Hamptons and the lovely island of St. Barths – passport to Africa included.
225 Centre Street, New York 10013
Best For: African Print Home Accessories
If you’re looking to add a dash of African panache to your home, then look no further than Darkroom London. Darkroom is a well-curated boutique nestled on one of London’s chicest shopping districts, Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury.
With an impressive selection of artisanal accessories from emerging and unknown designers around the world, founder Rhonda Drakeford also “indulges (her) personal obsession with indigenous African art, textiles and jewelry”. Rhonda works with artisan groups throughout Africa to curate accessories including woven raffia cushions from Madagascar and wooden rings from Tanzania.
This season, Rhonda collaborated with artist Camille Walala to create an exclusive series of prints inspired by the Ndebele tribe of South Africa. The collection, entitled “T-R-I-B-A-L-A-L-A”, includes cushions, throws, stationary and more.
52 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3LL
Best For: Emerging Nigerian Designers
L’Espace, the brainchild of Isoken Ogiemwonyi and Wonuola Odunsi, is a hub for Nigeria’s rising design talent. Opened in December 2011, L’Espace evolved out of sister company Le Petite Marche, a monthly shopping fair boasting an assortment of emerging Nigerian brands.
L’Espace recently introduced the “Beauty Bar” and “The Oasis at L’Espace”, a beauty lounge and café respectively. Truly cementing itself as a one-stop-shop, L’Espace conveniently offers women and men’s apparel, accessories, homeware, sweet treats, beauty remedies and more.
Lauded as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential African Women” via The Guardian, co-founder Isoken Ogiemwonyi is an active champion of the “Buy Nigerian” movement. And now, you can be too.
19a Olosa street, Victoria Island
Best For: Emerging South African Designers
Mememe Johannesburg is co-owned and run by South African blogger Milisuthando
Bongela of Miss Milli B. With an eye for curation and a distinct taste, Milisuthando has been instrumental in providing retail and business platforms to the best Jozi designers since her Pulchritude initiative, which by-the-way led to the opportunity to open this store.
Tucked away on a winding bend in the quaint neighborhood of Parkhurst, Mememe offers an eclectic and design-led curation ranging from wooden sunglasses to leather bowtie necklaces suitable for him and her. Co-Owner Doreen Southwood’s eponymous label is also available at Mememe.
If a trip to Johannesburg is not on your travel itinerary, don’t fret, Mememe is gearing up for the launch of their e-commerce site. Soon, you will be able to shop the best of South African design from the comfort of your own home.
54 6th Street, Parkhurst
Best For: Sun, Fun, Food, and Fashion
There’s a little something for everyone at this bustling indoor/outdoor Jozi market.
Only open on the weekends and touting the best of local South African craftsmanship, design, and artisanal goods, Neighborgoods is by no means your average flea market.
Located in a landmark building and covering 2 expansive floors, you’ll find everything from South African wines and melt-in-your-mouth donuts, to handmade crystal necklaces and perfectly tailored shirts.
Whether you’re looking for some retail therapy, a bite to eat, or a place to people watch, Neighborgoods Market has you covered every Saturday of the month, come rain or shine.
73 Juta Street, Braamfontein
Best For: Maasai Inspired Shoes and Accessories
Spanish based luxury shoe brand, Pikolinos, has teamed up with a collective of Maasai artisans in Kenya to create a line of sandals and handbags adorned with Maasai signature beading. The mission of this collaboration is to foster cultural sustainability and economic empowerment…and indeed it does. Each accessory is hand embroidered in Kenya, bearing the cultural aesthetic and significance of the Maasai tribe while catering to a global and scalable customer base.
You may not be able to hop on the next flight to Kenya, but you can head on over to the Pikolinos Pop-Up Shop this summer for a taste of Nairobi in New York.
32 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District Until July 7th, 2013
Best For: Emerging Pan-African Designers
Soboye, created by designer and stylist extraordinaire Samson Soboye, has been holding down the Shoreditch shopping district for over 10 years now. An early entrant to this neighborhood chock full of refurbished historic buildings, Soboye has continued to evolve alongside his clientele. Soboye boasts an impeccably curated selection of emerging pan-African designers alongside global brand names of womenswear, menswear, accessories and home furnishings.
Looking for an African print umbrella to keep you dry in the Rainy City? Soboye has you covered with South African brand, Babatunde. In search of a pair of uber trendy heels to dance the night away in? You’ll find leading Ghanian designer Mo-Saique shoes here as well. Whether you’re shopping for him, for her, or for home, you’re bound to find a swoon-worthy object that you won’t be able to leave behind here.
13 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP
Best For: Luxury Shopping in a Concept Shop
Temple Muse is the leading purveyor of luxury fashion and lifestyle brands in Lagos, Nigeria. This upscale concept shop offers leading Nigerian brands ranging from Ituen Basi to Tsemaye Binitie alongside international heavyweights, such as recently launched Mathew Williamson. A true luxury experience doesn’t end with just fashion. Temple Muse recently opened their “Reading Room”, featuring curated books from the likes of Assouline and Arise Editor Helen Jennings’ New African Fashion. A luxury experience in Nigeria is never complete without some champagne. Rest assured, you can get that here too at the Moet and Chandon bar. Shop, Sip, Splurge.
No 21, Amodu Tijani, Victoria Island
Best For: Luxury Shopping in a Boutique
When shopping in the Gold Coast, you’ll find that Viva is to Accra as Temple Muse is to Lagos. Stop by this luxury emporium for a selection of high-end international brands and leading local designers. Located in a premium shopping district in Accra, Viva brands carry a premium price tag to boot. Be prepared to drop some change here, as the labels stocked range from Chloe to Givenchy and recently launched Nigerian concession, Tiffany Amber. If you’re in Accra in October during Ghana Fashion and Design Week, stop by Viva for a special Pop-Up shop featuring participating Ghanaian designers.
Old American Embassy, Osu-Accra
Ever come across a lookbook or runway image and immediately fall in love with the designer, yet have no means of purchasing from the collection? Fret no more, Heritage1960 has you covered. Heritage1960 offers online trunk shows allowing consumers worldwide to pre-order looks from the most exclusive African designers straight from the runway. You may not be able to make it to New York for Fashion Week, but you can make it online to pre-order the same covetable looks and more.
Soko, which means “marketplace” in Swahili, is the first online marketplace to directly connect artisans in Africa to consumers worldwide by cutting out the middleman. Armed with Soko’s tools of the trade, artisans in Africa utilize their mobile phone to run their online shop, from product pictures to fulfilling orders and everything in between. If you didn’t get a chance to stop by the roadside market in Nairobi, now you can do so from the comfort of your home.
Virgos Lounge was initially launched by Nigerian gal pals Fioye, Oye, and Adenike as an online destination for refurbished vintage clothing. After a successful run, the ladies decided to create their own vintage-inspired label…and the rest is essentially history. In addition to shopping this vintage-inspired brand online, Virgos Lounge is also available at leading high street retailer Topshop.