In times of increased competition, a pop-up store is an attractive concept for retail businesses. It’s a deliberate marketing concept bringing attention to and strengthening the brand’s presence. African Fashion International (AFI) has adopted such a concept with the launch of its new boutique, The House of Nala, where you can expect to find garments by African designers such as Eric Raisina, Adele Dejak, Scalo, Gavin Rajah and KLûK CGDT, under one roof.
House of Nala
House of Nala’s distinguishing feature is its focus on Afrocentrism – decorating the boutique is an assortment of products conveying that same sentiment. Namely, the eye-catching ceramics by Nkosi Ceramic, displaying distinguishable trademarks of South African heritage. This gives the visitor a haptic impression of the brand’s aesthetic. Dr Precious Moloi Motsepe, the founder & chairperson of AFI, shared “The opening of the store is the logical next step in our vision at AFI. While we aim to support local designers, we also want to ensure a convenient, safe and luxurious shopping experience for our clients. We believe that the House of Nala concept store is an important extension to our e-commerce store and, being located at The Leonardo, combines just the right balance.”
Revealed at the launch, were collections by:
- Bongiwe Walaza
- Millie Collines
- ARA Emporium
- Michelle Ludek
With themes of floor-sweeping silhouettes, belted gowns and refined pyjama pants. Coming in palettes of soft blues, blacks, greens and seductive reds. Optimistic collections, which manage to be practical.
Traditionally, fashion shows are held in person where fashion houses, investors, media influencers and celebrities congregate whilst models strut the runway showcasing the designers’ garments. How else can designers communicate their vision? With the fashion industry in disarray right now, designers learned to adapt to many of the challenges created by the pandemic: halted production, closed retailers, widespread job loss, and still produce haute couture for a market that now opts for comfortable tracksuits over high-end collections. Or at least chic versions of loungewear.
Some brands are experimenting with the concept of “phygital” shows – a blend of physical and virtual aspects to create an augmented experience. In this case, a virtual fashion show where models walk the runway with almost no people attending. After all, who said fashion shows need to be held in person? Isn’t fashion about innovation and invention? Even if the current situation has led to plenty of digital presentations, can it replace a fashion shows’ physical perspective? It remains to be seen if more brands will adopt the live broadcast concept or stick to traditional fashion showcasing.
Adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, the show took place before an invited audience. You can watch the digitised version, House of Nala tested the waters of virtual couture shopping with the implementation of their “Click and Collect” service proving a successful e-commerce solution for this current climate.
Traditional couture designer Bongiwe Walaza, who presented at the launch, shared her vision loud and clear. “I intend to put Africa on the map through fashion and traditional wear has always been my unique selling point. I admire print and African traditions. My reason for using isiShweshwe – a printed fabric traditionally worn in South Africa – in my collection is to liberate it from its association of being rural.” Walaza continued, “always incorporating elements of traditional culture is my niche. That’s where my strength is.”
Tapering on what more to expect at AFI fashion shows, designer Archibald Moneypao urges us to witness Monarchy Couture’s showcase firsthand. “Without saying much, rest assured,” Moneypao explains, “once I put my hands on my designs I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Purchases of my collections are testament of the standard Monarchy Couture produces.” Monarchy Couture is one of the fashion houses set to present at a later fashion show in AFI’s fashion calendar. That’s an occasion to look forward to.
Although this time can’t be easy, the silver lining is that African designers are proving that they too can be fashion heavyweights and push the envelope of style — All together. The House of Nala launch shows the resilience of the industry in pioneering endeavours of cultural elevation and ensuring a buying experience optimal for everyone from Africa’s most sought-after design creatives.
The House of Nala is now open for your shopping pleasure.