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.

IMG_0900

 

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.

IMG_7613

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.

D63898A6-2E69-434C-A4BB-FA33C9A1A56A

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.

IMG_0413

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.”

c7d9a309-61cf-4ac3-9b61-6624314aafe2

 


 

5 ways to become a more socially responsible shopper

photogrid_1551545928027-12758447236103425670.jpg

It’s a well-known fact that the fashion industry has had many negative impacts on both human rights and the environment over the years. From huge factories owned by large multinational companies that exploit child labour, to workshops that subject their female labour force to dangerous working conditions, the glamorous façade of fashion masks a much darker side. This dark side creates beauty and wearable art at the expense of human dignity, environmental conservation and fair labour practices. As much as I enjoy fashion I can’t ignore the fact that the manufacture of clothing by some of my favourite brands has most likely resulted in the pollution of a major watercourse, for example. While many of us are aware of this, very few of us actually bother doing something about it. The following are a few practical suggestions on how we can “do our part” so to speak. Here are a few tips on how to become a more socially responsible shopper:

#1 Shop local

Show your support for home-grown talent by browsing your local craft markets, second-hand clothing stores, charity shops and e-boutiques. Not only can you get some unique and interesting pieces but you would also help sustain local businesses and, in some measure, be taking a stand against the fashion giants that exploit cheap labour in the name of style. Personally, I adore craft markets, particularly ones that stock African-inspired clothing and accessories. I’ve acquired a beautiful collection of interesting shoes, handbags and jewellery sourced from markets and small boutiques. These markets can also be a great source of stylish and sustainable fashion made by locals from recycled materials. 

#2 Re-style, re-imagine, re-invent 

Another great way to avoid handing your money over to design houses and commercial manufacturers who exploit human rights and destroy the environment is to skip the mall completely and browse your own wardrobe for those statement pieces that have been sitting there for a while. Or do what I do sometimes and raid somebody else’s closet! Fashion is cyclical. Vintage pieces rarely ever go out of style and you never know when some of your older clothes will be on trend again. Unlike the rich and famous, many of us don’t have the luxury of wearing an outfit only once. Obviously, there are some looks that just can’t be repeated but there are plenty of classic pieces that can be restyled, revamped and re-imagined to create several new looks. Think Tiffany Haddish or Kate Middleton who, despite their money and status, have opted to wear some of their favourite dresses more than once and each time looked effortlessly chic.  I have a number of great pieces I that have remained in excellent condition over the last few years. And luckily for me, my incredibly stylish mother and I are pretty much the same size so we often exchange clothes. So next time you’re stumped as to what to wear to a wedding, dance, cocktail function etc., I would suggest you try fishing out the staple LBDs, vintage handbags, the skirt you borrowed from your sister and the fabulous fashion jewellery you’ve had stashed away and forgotten about. You can get creative, or enlist someone else’s help, and come up with an entirely new look for some of your clothes. 

#3 Make your own clothing and accessories

Again, there are times when being a socially responsible shopper could, ironically, mean not being a shopper at all. Instead, it might entail fashioning your own fashion. Of course, this is easier said than done. You would need to have the right knowledge, skills, tools and materials to make your own clothing and accessories. But there are many resources you can consult to learn how to make your own stuff (thank goodness for YouTube!). Alternatively, you can commission someone to create custom garments and accessories for you. Moreover, the most ideal scenario would be to use materials that are recycled and/or manufactured responsibly. Fortunately for me I’ve got my mum who just so happens to be a fashion designer! She’s always made clothes for me, whether I couldn’t find something at the shops or simply wanted something unique for a special occasion. She also taught me how to make my own clothing which has been an incredibly useful skill to have. Also, since 2011, I’ve been making my own jewellery using an assortment of beads and scraps of fabric and at times, I  like to refurbish and revamp my old earrings and bangles. 

Consumers often find it difficult to gauge which companies deal in conflict-free jewellery, engage in ethical clothing production practices and make a concerted effort to be socially-responsible because it could often just be window dressing. Going the DIY fashion route is a great way to avoid supporting fast fashion brands that exploit human rights. 

#4 Support fashion-forward social and green initiatives 

Another way to be more socially responsible in the way you shop is to support the eco-friendly and social initiatives/projects aimed at reducing the adverse impacts of the fashion industry. You can back the businesses that actually do their part to respect human rights and remedy violations. H&M, for instance, runs a green initiative where customers drop off bags of old clothing, no matter the brand or condition, in exchange for a modest fashion voucher. Since 2017, they’ve collected the equivalent of just over 89 million T-shirts which they’ve also used to make new textiles for some of the clothing sold in-store. This project was started to combat the exorbitant amount of waste that ends up in landfills when clothing is thrown away. In the same vein, you could also give away old clothing that is in a better condition to a local charity or second-hand store. This is an efficient way to clear out long-abandoned items from your wardrobe that are simply gathering dust but can be acquired by someone who’s going to cherish them for ages. Also, by buying from and donating to these shops, you can find some gorgeous vintage pieces, support a charity in your area and avoid spending your money on the designer labels that are built on abusing human rights.

#5 Do your research and spread the word

Lastly, another important step towards becoming a more socially responsible shopper is to do your homework. Research, read and recount to others what you know. A simple Google search of terms like,“fashion and human rights,” “ethical fashion” and “fashion and the environment” can expose you to so much about the true environmental and human rights costs of fast fashion. Moreover, you can find useful info on the social and ethical fashion initiatives you can get involved in. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, for instance, is a great online resource for the latest developments on human rights and business generally as well as news on the human rights impacts of the fashion industry. There are several video clips, blog posts and articles that unpack the latest in legal developments around these issues. If you’re already operating a large-scale fashion business, have you familiarized yourself with key human rights standards and guidelines like the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Once you get the info you need, it doesn’t hurt to pass it on and get the word out.  Social media has made this much easier these days. And then take the ‘clicktivism’ a step further by writing about these issues in a blog post, article or even an academic research paper and do your part to help local fashion industry grow. 

 

*This post is adapted from a blog series dated from  24 January 2017  to 4 May 2017 on the Urban Afro Concept micro-blog on Instagram *

Style radar: Wandi Ngema

img-20180120-wa00006813292751836621767.jpg

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.

img-20180120-wa00021244015476795220727.jpg

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.

img-20180120-wa00013807928257132825934.jpg

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!

The Urban Afro Concept online store has finally gone LIVE!!!

As a self-taught jewellery designer I’m always looking to improve and expand my jewellery-making repertoire. I initially got my start in this enterprise way back in 2011 and since then my skills have developed exponentially. I made a few earrings to feed my addiction for this type of jewellery with a few bits and bobs my mother, a fashion designer, had lying around. I’d gotten a number of compliments while wearing the stuff I’d made which got me selling to friends and family. I never would have imagined this collection of accessories made by my own hand would grow to this level.

The accessories I’ve made for the UAC line are a reflection of my own Afroccentric personal style. Every single piece is special to me. It makes me incredibly happy when my customers enjoy wearing the jewellery as much I love making it. The collection now consists of earrings, bangles, bracelets, necklaces, rings and hairbands. I also recently expanded it to include some stuff that both men and women can enjoy.

Which brings me to the launch of the e-boutique. The new Urban Afro Concept website has gone live and I am absolutely ecstatic! I still can’t believe how far I’ve come. UAC fans can now shop my online store at www.urbanafroconcept.co.za for all the little gems I create. I’m so thankful to all the wonderful people in my life who have supported me on this journey from making two pairs of earrings to developing a fully-fledged online store. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for UAC. For now, please check out my site to browse the UAC lookbook and shop the store for the latest in my collection.

Happy shopping!


Shop UAC

IMG_20180625_183628_254

We offer worldwide shipping.

We offer FREE shipping for:

  • Orders within East London, Eastern Cape.
  • Domestic orders over R250.
  • International orders over R450.

Launch specials:

  • 30% of all wooden beaded necklaces
  • 30% off wax print ‘bubble’ necklaces

Get R50 off* your first purchase when you follow this blog on WordPress or subscribe to it via email.


*R50 off purchases of R150 or more. By clicking “Follow” you are accepting our Terms & Conditions. This voucher is issued for the first time you subscribe only. Voucher is valid for 30 days and cannot be redeemed against items already on special or sale.