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Merchants On Long connects luxury African fashion and design with a global audience

Founded in 2020 with the express goal of giving a platform to local talents, Merchants on Long has grown over the years to represent a wide selection of designers from across the African continent, wishing to connect with a worldwide, fashion-savvy audience.

Over the years, there have been pop-ups in Paris and London, and most recently, a semi-permanent boutique in the Burlington Arcade, London, as well as a full e-commerce offering.

Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

For the month of June, the retailer will offer a curated selection of contemporary African fashion and design at a pop-up store in Keyes Art Mile, Rosebank.

Located at the Okapi flagship store, the Merchants on Long pop-up offers Johannesburg clients the opportunity to shop a beautiful selection of African fashion and design.

Maki Oh, Emilia D, Dye Lab and Sidai Designs are some of the exclusive fashion and jewellery on offer.

Many of South Africa’s great designers have been nurtured through brand growth by Merchants, and the offering currently includes the likes of Lukhanyo Mdingi, Viviers Studio, Muso Maxwell and Thebe Magugu, which are on the rails at the Joburg pop-up.

Image: Supplied

Equally strong fashion can be seen from brands such as Hamaji, a label founded by designer Louise Sommerlatte, and based on Kenya’s East Coast. This ethical, sustainable brand was founded on the principles of preserving ancient textile traditions and nomadic craftsmanship while empowering small-scale artisans in Africa. The collection includes tailored pieces: wide-leg pants and jumpsuits in natural fibres and botanical dyes. Beautiful beaded tops are handmade by local women in Kenya and have a sophisticated global design appeal.

Lounge wear for all sizes are on offer from Nigerian designer Banke Kuku, who founded her eponymous label in 2011 following an extended period in London. Her love of fabrics can be seen in her selection of silk satin, and cotton, button-downs and kaftans in a range of bright colours and prints.

In the kids section there’s the cutest rompers and suits from Good Good Good, the Cape Town studio creating threads for young and old from recycled fabrics. Plus, Big Little Store handmade colourful cardigans.

“Merchants on Long has a fantastic online store that delivers countrywide,” explains Jeanine Benjamin, Merchants on Long CEO, “but we know that being able to engage with the clothes, physically feeling and seeing the pieces, is the best way to appreciate the quality of craftsmanship and textile choice.

“Alongside some of our best South African fashion, the pop-up will also stock labels from designers across the continent. These include Banke Kuku and Dye Lab, who have a strong fanbase in Johannesburg. Plus many others that have a sophisticated appeal, and yet have not been exposed to the Joburg customer.

“We want to be able to bring showcase these designers, while supporting and celebrating African craftsmanship,” she adds.

The Johannesburg pop-up will run until 30 June.

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