CDFA/ Vogue fashion fund winner, creative director and founder of Brothersvellies.

Aurora James is a New York based model/ creative director who founded Brothervellies in 2013. The brand consists of traditional African footwear hand made in South Africa, Kenya & Morocco. The artisans are local African men and women who handcraft African inspired shoes and sandals made from pure leather, recycled denim and tyres.

 Aurora James & Brothervellies are inspired by the traditional handwoven techniques and natural materials from Africa. They strive to make a difference by employing local artisans who receive both wages and skill training with efforts to help create a sustainable jobs within Africa.

Brothervellies has been recognized by magazines from Elle to Vogue and has caught the attention of celebrities such as Beyoncé & Kanye West and taken NYFW by storm for Spring 2016.

I personally love Auroras vision of seeing traditional African wear as something of the future, creating a spotlight on the influences of  Africa, culturally and the skills wise. Showing that we do have the potential to feature in a much bigger industry.

On The Rise

Bare shoulders, clean cuts and pure effortless beauty, sums up this amazing collection. It was whilst working at the Spring/Summer ‘16/17 Mercedes Benz Fashion week that I first saw a collection by Siyethemba Duma, head designer of Matte Nolim and one of my recent favourite designers. The show was filled with bloggers and photographers ready to capture the anticipated show. With the collection entitled “Don’t Drown in an Empty Pool”, the runway was lit with a single spot light shining on a model wearing a black silk high-waisted pleated pants accompanied with a matching off the shoulder pleated crop top that lefsdr_2191_sdr-640x480t the audience delighted and left me completely obsessed. Talk about a throwback to the medieval or the 2000 trend of the hippie of flared sleeves but with a more refined feel, which is what caught my attention.

The show then followed with a combination of further sultry black and crisp white silk garments featuring an assortment of Nolim’s’ key looks, being the small ding dong bell sleeve and off the shoulder crop tops with pleated bell sleeves which was either created into an A-line dress or accompanied with silk high-waisted pants with pleated flairs or a bell bottom. The crisp and clean silhouettes of these looks creating a young yet sophisticated look.

Accessorised with wide black chockers, the models had fresh faced looks, with makeup placed along their cheek bones and eyes to enhance their features and slightly flushed cheeks walked the runway with a flirtatious attitude that brought across an atmosphere that represented a fierce feminine young woman strutting down the runway.

A change of colour and texture was brought in with a dirty pink rose-wood two-piece with velvety luxurious trousers paired with a sheer matte elongated sleeve which gave the collection a beautiful variation of tones and textiles. Ending off the show was the collections final garment being Nolim’s show stopper sweeper, a simply beautiful white dress with a clean round neck and the dresses main attraction being its angelic cut out sleeves that tailed along the runway.

This was only the second time that Matte Nolim has graced the runway with his modern and clean silhouettes that are aimed at women in the in-between stages of a college girl meets a working women, which explains the touch of sophistication and class in his designs that are perfectly matched with a slight feel of youthfulness. “Shoulders are the new thighs, in terms of sex appeal and everyone has a hot pair to show off this summer” is how Nolim describes his collection creating a shift in erogenous zones that every female can feel comfortable showing off.

All in all the collection was a minimalists dream, playing on the concept of “Less is more” with a slight dramatic touch. Matte Nolim is definitely one of the most spoken about upcoming South African designers booming on both social media and amongst the local fashion elite. He’s a designer that I personally feel understands both functionality and femininity perfectly.



The Missi Experience

It was not so long ago when I first stepped foot inside the “jewel box”. Walls coloured in pink, orange and turquoise, a fun palm tree printed carpet, plants and paintings and a display of beautiful handbags and accessories. Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters playing in the background with the beautiful colours and designs around me, I was left with an unforgettable memory of my first encounter with Missibaba.

Missibaba Handmade, founded in 2005 is a local brand that specializes in bespoke handmade leather handbags and accessories.

Wednesday, the 5th of October 2016 was the official launch of the Missibaba store at the TRUMPPET building at Keyes Art Mile. The new store, neighbour to the all African Milk Bar and opposite the Everard Read gallery had a soothing atmosphere as champagne was served with the sunset in the background. Guests and loyal customers of Missibaba all gathered to celebrate the launch. From the names of blogger Kenny J. Winslow of the Third Citizen, local singer Lira and leading fashion designer Marianne Fassler were among the guests who attended. 2016-10-09-3

Keyes Art Mile is ‘curated Neighbourhood living’ in the heart of Rosebank, Johannesburg. A new avenue filled with art, design leisure, luxury, friends and food. The perfect location for the new Missibaba store for those who love all things creative and local.

The creative force behind the brand is designer Chloe Townsend and Lizel Strydom who work together with a small team of only women. With a studio and store based on Bree Street in Cape Town and 19 Keyes Avenue Rosebank in Johannesburg, Missibaba strives to ‘become a globally recognized brand, associated with quality, creativity and good business ethics’ which is something they most definitely have achieved. The brand has also been listed as one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 young South Africans to watch and has featured in Elle magazine and other publications a numerous amount of times in recent months and over the years.


The story behind the creative and detailed designs of the Missibaba handbags and accessories is what makes this local brand so unique. Inspired by many of Chloe and Lizel’s African adventure’s and travels to places such as Kenya, where they found inspiration for their infamous  jungle, banana and graphic diamond print patterns, and none other than the local Sea Point Library in Cape Town is where their inspiration behind their beautifully designed tulip pattern came about. The unique cut out applique, patterns, shapes and designs all created based on inspirational, fun and beautiful experiences with the leathers ethically sourced both locally and internationally makes Missibaba a local retailer that offers good quality across all boarders. Their interaction and close relationship with their customers is created from the process behind customizing their bags and accessories based on the designs, prints and trimmings that their customers most desire.

Missibaba as a local brand has come a long way and continues to excite their customers with their new bags, accessories and now beautifully tailored and detailed leather jackets with amazing embroidered and stitched fun pieces  that they show off on their vibrant Instagram page. Being a new member of the Missibaba team has opened my eyes to the many opportunities, influences and memorable experiences that local brands can have, and I am excited to see where this journey takes me.