Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the Urban Afro Concept team. We hope the end of the last decade had been kind to you and we wish you a productive and prosperous New Year! As always, Urban Afro Concept continues to evolve. For the most part, we haven’t introduced too many new changes and continue to offer high-quality handmade accessories. We are, however, excited to share that our team continues expanding, we will be introducing some new products soon and we’re looking forward to more collaborations and events this year. Here’s what to expect from us in 2020…

UAC Accessories + custom orders 

Shop our online store for our range of lovingly handcrafted jewellery and accessories. We stock big and bold statement pieces as well as dainty and delicate little accessories that liven up your look. We have bangles, earrings, necklaces, rings and hair accessories. There’s something for everyone. We often offer products at reduced prices and giveaways.

 

As you may or may not know, we also take orders for made-to-measure custom accessories. For more information on our custom jewellery service, visit our website. Download our CUSTOM ORDER FORM if you’re ready to put in an order for a custom accessory made according to your specifications.

Ethnique Afrika X Urban Afro Concept 

We’ve finalized our joint catalogue with our partner brand, Ethnique-Afrika (an innovative designer and manufacturer of chic and sophisticated, African-inspired attire.) The catalogue provides customers with information on our products and services. The catalogue also provides links to the online store and other useful information such as payment options, shipping options, our custom order policy etc. The UAC online shop still stocks some Ethnique-Afrika merch including a limited array of beautiful, high-quality wax print fabrics in a variety of colours and patterns as well as cravats in silk and wax print. More products to follow soon.

Click the following link to download the catalogue: UAC and EA catalogue FINAL

 

Work opportunities 

JOIN OUR TEAM

We’re always open to collaborating with bloggers and getting contributions from both experienced bloggers and those with solid writing skills who are looking to gain some experience. At present, we do not offer any monetary compensation for blog contributions. However, you will be publicly credited as the author of the pieces you write for us.

We also have a number of opportunities for interested parties to work directly with us by joining our team. In particular, we are currently accepting and reviewing applications for brand ambassadors, online sales consultants and media interns based in any location. These positions are unsalaried but our people would get paid a commission based on their sales of our products and interns receive a modest stipend for the duration of the internship. We’re looking for anyone, in any location, who fits the profiles outlined on the website.

 

That’s all for now!

Stay tuned to this blog for more updates and news including new competitions, giveaways and features. Also, subscribe via email and you’ll be entitled to R50 off your first purchase. WordPress subscribers can drop us an email (urbanafroconcept@gmail.com) to claim their voucher.

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For more information on our products, services and collaborating opportunities, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can also send us a message via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Style radar: Norealda Cronje

On my style radar this week is Norealda Cronje who stays serving up looks in a range of beautiful bohemian-esque ensembles. I asked this lovely lady a few short questions about what/who inspires her style and love for fashion.

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Norealda expressed that what she enjoys most about fashion is that it enables her to showcase who she is through what she’s wearing and the incredible feeling she gets from putting a good look together. “[Fashion] allows me to express who I am through my personal style,” she said. And this fashionista certainly knows how to make a statement in her fetching 70s-style fashion which features whimsical silhouettes, knee-high boots, fun floppy hats, statement dangle earrings and playful prints. Norealda also switches it up quite regularly between different hairstyles with great ease and always has her hair neatly coiffed, whether she’s styled it in a sleek bob, shoulder-length box braids, soft wavy curls or a little bun.

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When asked about her current fashion obsession Norealda emphatically responded, “prints!!! [I] love any print especially floral and African-inspired prints.” She does indeed have quite the collection of fabulous flowery prints and joyful geometric patterns. And with her incredible accessorizing skills, she seems to have perfected the art of styling as is evident from the range of charming little handbags, shoes and earrings that complement her clothing so well.

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Given a chance, Norealda would love to raid the closet of the very talented and gorgeous Zoë Kravitz because “her effortless chic is incomparable. It never looks like she put any effort into anything that she wears yet she always looks absolutely amazing.” In many ways, Norealda’s style choices ooze the same kind of cool confidence as the quirky, pint-sized fashion dynamo that is Miss Kravitz. And like this Hollywood starlet, Norealda’s look has a lovely ease and elegance to it.

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Norealda epitomizes modern-day, 70s-inspired, country chic in her cute and carefree ensembles. Whether she’s rocking an LBD and boots or a billowy, boho-chic jumpsuit and wedges her look stays polished. On what inspires this look, she remarked, “comfortability (sic) inspires my style, I have to be comfortable with what I wear to feel confident.” It’s no surprise then that her number one rule for keeping it cute with her fashion is: “you always have to be comfortable in the the skin that you are in, regardless. If you’re wearing an expensive/extravagant garment or slacks, you will only exude confidence once you are comfortable.”

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Hello 2019!!

Happy New Year everyone! 2018 was a thrilling year for Urban Afro Concept (UAC), full of much growth, interesting opportunities and important lessons. It’s been a year of ups and downs, but mostly ups, with a number of changes which we hope will make for an exciting 2019.

New year, new look

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Early last year, this style blog (and now online store) took on a new look and name. I’d wanted to give the blog a face-lift for some time but I wasn’t quite sure how to achieve that without changing the feel of the blog so drastically. I ultimately decided to swap out ‘Urban Afro Gypsy’ for ‘Urban Afro Concept.’ The sleek new logo, designed by my brother, Chileshe, and new name are a reflection of my own personal style as well as everything the UAC blog and jewellery collection symbolizes for me – Afro-urban chic, sophisticated simplicity and African elegance. The change signified a new chapter in the life of this blog and gave rise to a some of the other changes that took place over 2018.

Nonetheless, the biggest motivator behind the name change was a blog post I read on the Wrapsody LLC website  in which the owner –  who identifies as a Hungarian Gypsy – explains why she formally scrapped the original business name, ‘Gypsy Mama’. The word ‘gypsy’ is a pejorative term loaded with a myriad of negative connotations and has been used as a racial slur by many people in Europe over the years. Of course, I meant no disrespect whatsoever in incorporating the term into the name of my blog but naively likened some aspects of the Roma culture to my upbringing as an African third culture kid or ‘cultural nomad’. After conducting more extensive research, which I  admittedly should have done beforehand, I made the decision to drop the ‘gypsy’. I sincerely apologise to anyone who was offended by the old name. I made a grave mistake and have certainly learnt a great deal from the experience.

Launching the online store

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Another major change in 2018 was the launch of the UAC website plus online store in August. When I first began making jewellery in 2011, I never envisioned that things would get to this level. The site and store provide a convenient location for customers to get some of the hand-crafted gems that comprise the UAC collection and place orders for custom jewellery and accessories. The launch also saw the introduction of some new styles and different kinds of accessories in the collection including large wax print necklaces, beaded necklaces and bracelets for both men and women as well as rings and new styles of mixed-media earrings.

Custom jewellery

My jewellery-making skills grew and continued to grow throughout 2018. I’d taken on some exciting custom orders which challenged me creatively and gave me a chance to expand my repertoire. This is one of my absolute favourite aspects of the business because not only is it so much fun, it’s also such a wonderful feeling to see a customer wear and love something I created with by my own hand.

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What’s to come in 2019…

Since its inception the Urban Afro Concept blog and accessories line has been constantly expanding. 2018 has been its strongest year so far and saw it reach levels that exceeded my humble expectations. With all the changes UAC has undergone over the past year I’m still, admittedly, finding my feet. But I look forward to what 2019 will bring. One thing I’m looking forward to in particular is continuing to collaborate with my mother, Chimba, who is the designer and founder of Ethnique-Afrika. She’s been a great inspiration to me creatively as well as my biggest supporter and throughout last year, we embarked on a few small business projects together. I’m hoping to continue working with her to create more African-inspired custom fashion and accessories on a larger scale. I have high hopes for this year.

In closing, also want to say how very thankful I am to UAC fans for their loyalty and support. I would have never been able to achieve any of this without it. I’m super stoked for the year ahead and wish you all the best for it!

Here’s to a productive, positive and prosperous 2019!

Style radar: Grant Caswell

On my style radar today is urban gent Grant Caswell, a cultured Capetonian with an eye for clean lines and quality tailoring. I asked this stylish young man to tell me more about the art of putting a good look together and what inspires his love for fashion…

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Taking inspiration from the streetwear bloggers he follows on Instagram, Grant favours a look that is sleek and sophisticated yet fun, fresh and exciting. ‘I’m shameless about stealing ideas from them but I try to stay true to my own style which is really simple – my go-to weekend “uniform” is blue jeans and a good-quality plain white t-shirt,’ he says. I must say though that he makes a modest combo like this look very fashion-forward. It’s all in the subtle details really and Grant is pretty skilled at creating ensembles that are sophisticated in their simplicity but contain intriguing little details.

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Grant effortlessly transitions between weekday work smart and minimalist sporty chic on weekends, so it’s not surprising he chose both Calvin Klein and Burberry when asked which design house he would hire as his personal tailor. ‘For my everyday casual wear, I’d have to go with Calvin Klein. I think the brand’s simple “all-American” style and clean fits really suit how I try to dress. If money wasn’t an option, I’d also have every suit I own tailored by Burberry. In my opinion, few design houses come close to matching a classic tailored Burberry suit.’

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And speaking of suits, given his work in the legal field Grant will often find himself suited up at the office. So I asked him what it is that distinguishes a good suit from a great suit. He stresses that it’s all about: ‘[t]he fit! The fit! The fit! I can’t say that enough. Firstly, know your correct size and secondly, I promise you, even the cheapest suit can look really expensive if it’s tailored to fit you correctly.’

So many men make the mistake of buying suits that are way too tight or way too loose for them, selecting ones that are made from poor quality fabrics or opting out of getting them tailored. They also assume that you have to fork out truckloads of money to buy a decent suit but as Grant demonstrates, a high price tag doesn’t always guarantee a winner. He explains further, ‘I generally wear suits to work and while I don’t always spend too much money on them, I do make sure I have my suits tailored where necessary. My preference is for slim-fitted suits over looser-fitting traditional cuts. But, regardless of which cut you may prefer, get it tailored so that it looks like it was made just for you.’

Further words I would use to describe Grant’s style include polished and unpretentious. I like the fact that he can appreciate a label for the quality of the clothing behind it rather than how expensive it is. He says that a black long-sleeved T-shirt by Dolce & Gabbana is currently his favourite item of clothing in his wardrobe. ‘My aunt lives in the US and gave [the shirt] to me as a gift when she visited a few years ago. To be honest I probably wear it to death and my friends and family must be so sick of seeing me in it but it’s so comfortable. It still looks just as good as the day I got it – the black cotton hasn’t faded, the small leather and gold insignia badge on the chest hasn’t lost its shine – it’s a great testament to how good quality clothing tends to last.’ Classic pieces like a long-sleeved black T-shirt are necessary wardrobe staples that never go out of style so I honestly don’t blame Grant for wearing his D&G number over and over and over again. Many of us don’t have the luxury of wearing expensive clothing just once and what else do we buy great fashion for if not to wear it repeatedly?

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He tells me that the thing he enjoys most about fashion is the freedom it gives him to make a statement about his mood or convey a certain message without uttering a word. He also admits that fashion allows him to be a little bit cheeky without stepping on anyone’s toes…‘Going into an important meeting at work where I want to convey dominance and power? I’ll wear a black suit with a bright red tie. Heading somewhere where I want to be noticed? I’ll slightly over-dress. There are even times when I’ve strategically dressed a bit more street/urban in a formal setting just to come off as a bit rebellious. It’s honestly a game and hey, maybe other people don’t even notice but if my clothes make me feel a bit more confident when I walk out the door then I’m all for it.’

 

Grant is a men’s fashion maestro who is thoughtful about maximising his clothing budget. He illustrates that while you should invest in certain staples – especially suits – so as not to compromise on quality, you don’t need to spend an enormous amount of money to come up with an overall look that is refined, elegant and á la mode. He remarks, ‘[a]s long as you remember to always make an effort – I’m not sure who said it but I’m a firm believer in the quote “Dressing well is a form of respect”.’

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Style radar: Wandi Ngema

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On my style radar this week is the adorable Wandi Ngema who regularly keeps it cute and classy in a series of sweet and chic ensembles. I asked her a few questions to know more about what inspires her style and what she enjoys most about fashion.

Summing up her style as “fun, classic and elegant,” Wandi’s biggest fashion inspiration comes from the minimalist yet stylish looks of the incomparable Victoria Beckham, which she describes as “neat, elegant and timeless pieces, perfect for the modern woman.” Like Posh Spice, Wandi has a flair for making simple silhouettes and patterns exciting through the interesting details in the clothing – a pop of colour here, a fun print there, fraying or fringe. She also knows how to combine these pieces in a way that is sophisticated yet cool, chilled yet polished.

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When asked which designer, local or international, she’d hired as her personal tailor, Wandi tells me that what she calls her “obsession” with African print would have her keep it local with South African design house, Khosi Nkosi. This award-winning brand has numerous pieces made with African wax print fabric in its collection. “What I love most about her designs is that they’re timeless,” she says of designer and founder Nobukhosi Nkosi. Wandi’s support for locally-made fashion doesn’t just end there. She says a black wrap dress she purchased from Cape Town-based Koibito Kibun is one of her favourite items of clothing in her wardrobe due to its versatility. “On weekends I wear it with sandals and during the week I can wear it to the office with matching heels.” In the photo below she’s sporting a pretty monochrome tunic dress by the same brand.

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What I adore most about Wandi’s style is its beautiful ease and simplicity. This lovely lady effortlessly switches it up between playful elegance and work-smart chic. She always looks neat and well put together. Although Mrs. Beckham is her style muse, Wandi has her own unique fashion point of view and I’m a huge fan!

Welcome to the new Urban Afro Concept blog

The Urban Afro Concept (formerly Urban Afro Gypsy) micro-blog has finally expanded! It’s taken a lot longer than I had hoped but I finally managed to create a new space for both my blog and online store.

UAC doubles as my personal style journal and an African-inspired, mixed media accessories collection. The blog, which I’ve moved from Instagram to this platform, will continue to provide readers with fashion and style inspiration through amusing, inspiring and thought-provoking content including tips and tricks, styling ideas, product reviews, celebrity looks (male and female), guest features and pretty much anything fashion-related. History, art, activism, culture, feminism and human rights are further sub-themes which are explored on this platform. The online store is almost complete and will be launching on Monday, 25th June. For now, stay tuned to this site for news and updates on both the accessories line and e-store.