AFRICA IN THE CITY

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m in a quandary as to what to do with the rest of my day, having dragged myself reluctantly to the gym for my weekly punishment I was feeling in an inspired mood to get out and about (any opportunity to hit the streets with the Nikon).
Several of my friends had told me to attend August in Africa Summer Festival, presented by The Africa Center at London’s Covent Garden, a celebration of all things amazing and African inspired. However central London on a Saturday isn’t one of my favourite things, especially since the week before I made the mistake of trying to shop the sales in Oxford Street on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Let’s just say the day ended with me having to express a few choice words to a complete stranger about the importance of common sense and decency. From that point I vowed never again.

I actually love Covent Garden, it’s an eccentric  mix of old London, mixed with modern shops and restaurants, however there is a reason I avoid it on any given Saturday, due to the very high volume of people in what is considered a very small area of space. It becomes a real challenge to traverse the streets to avoid collisions with tourists and general “out of towners”, whilst trying not to photobomb every other picture. Hence why my reluctance to attend the festival, however I needed to run a few errands, so as I was going to be in the area anyway it seemed rude not to attend, also an opportunity to celebrate the wonderfulness that is Africa.

Upon arrival in the Piazza we found a large stage, where DJ Oya Bun was currently playing an array of upbeat Afro Beats to keep the waiting crowd entertained. The atmosphere was relaxed and happy encouraged by the very fortunate good weather. As I said previously I hadn’t really intended on attending the festival so hadn’t checked the timings for the line-up, a quick google search later I realised we had missed a number of opening acts, which included; Ali Kamara, Simo Lagnawi, Bonga, Taalim and later in the evening Fuse ODG.

Undeterred we decided to explore the festival further, more importantly, do some shopping, which was perfectly timed as we managed to catch the beginning of an on the street fashion show, showcasing African inspired contemporary fashion, all put together by Vou Brown, fashion boutique located in North West London (I will be visiting in the near future)

Africa Summer Festival

 

 

The Men’s fashion did not disappoint

 

After the show we were able to shop the looks straight off the cobbled catwalk. My purchase of choice being an Ankara print turban, for those days when my hair is not looking quite ready for outside eyes and fabric covered earrings by Gitas Portal to add to my already too large collection.

African Summer Festival 2015

 

Overall the afternoon turned out to be a fun day it was nice to see young and old experiencing Africa’s finest. Showing the continent is more than a news headline but is rich with colour, culture art and fashion in its many evolving forms. Also a great precursor to next week’s event of Africa Fashion Week London, which I’m sure many of you will be attending.

Let me know if you attended the festival, your comments and feedback  are always welcome. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me @mymagnoliasky

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Travel Diary: Return to Bangladesh, Dhaka, June 2015

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest manufacturer of garments, most of which are supplied to many of the brands you and I wear. Working in the fashion retail industry means I have become a frequent visitor to the country, more specifically the capital Dhaka. It’s early June, meaning the temperature and humidity is high, as soon as I stepped of the plane I was greeted by the heat, reminiscent of an open oven door in a hot kitchen.
Dhaka city itself is a living contradiction; from the high rise modern buildings, versus the simple shacks many of the city’s residents still live in. On the roads the traditional rickshaw riders have equal standing against the larger buses and shiny 4×4 cars. The common thread being everyone’s desire to beat the traffic and not to be caught in the dreaded “JAM”.

The readymade garment industry in Bangladesh is still relatively new compared with its other competitor countries such as China and India. However the growth has been exponential, making Bangladesh a strong contender in the market of fashion manufacturing.

This growth hasn’t come without its challenges with recent tragedies such as the Tazreen factory fire and the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, highlighting the need for resource and investment to support this rapidly growing industry.

The people were friendly and as I was a very obvious foreigner I did attract some curious stares, especially in the more remote areas just outside the city.
People Bangladesh Dhaka

People Bangladesh Dhaka

I have an hour to spare so I accompany my colleague to a food market, while she shopped for dinner.
Food Market Dhaka Bangladesh

Fresh produce is easily available, supplied by the surrounding farmlands of the city.
Bangladesh Food

Bangladesh Food

As we drive out of Dhaka city, leaving behind the beeping car horns, crowded streets and congested city life, I get to see the other side of the country. Sprawling forests, green farm land and most importantly quiet empty roads, a complete contrast to the city center.
Bangladesh

My London: Brick Lane shopping

After filling our stomachs with what seemed like all the pancakes at Hoi Polloi Restaurant, Ace Hotel (see my previous post), it made sense to go for a walk to try a burn off some of our very large brunch. So myself and my friend Carina headed over to Brick Lane only a few minutes’ walk from Shoreditch High Street.

 

 

Brick Lane is an interesting place, where you will find some of the best curry houses, vintage shops and street art which line this very unique street. The street style fashion is amazing to observe from 90’s throwback, 80s punk and modern day mod-tailoring. There is a high concentration of people wearing Mom Jeans and a 2.8 average jaunty hat ownership per capita (note these statistics are completely fictitious though probably not far-off).

Brick Lane Vintage shops offer an array of retro fashion, though not the cheapest but you will be spoilt for choice.

Our first stop is the ever popular Rokit Vintage and Retro Clothing Shop, which has everything from old school Puma sneakers to cut-off vintage Levis 501’s.
Rokit

 

The Vintage Market Brick Lane.
Indoor market with various vendors all under the one roof.

Carina tried on this hat for so long I thought she actually had bought it, at only £15 it was a bargain.
Brick Lane Vintage Market

 

 

Today I’m Wearing: Topshop Parka, H&M printed blouse, Daniel Wellington Watch and Vintage Silk Scarf from my trip to Hong Kong.
Topshop with Vintage Silk Scarf

Brick Lane BookShop
I’m not sure when William Shakespeare wrote Othello, he had “MR T” in mind, but I think it works.

We accidentally happen upon a Street Art tour group, and decided to tag along for a moment, which is another great thing about Brick Lane the art is everywhere. Round every corner or side street you can find another piece more thought-provoking than the last.

As the afternoon sun starts to dim we head back to Liverpool Street Station to catch the tube home, I’m very proud of myself having controlled my urge to buy anything, but there is always next time.