Sherene Melinda Handbags on the runway at Africa Fashion Week London 2015

Sherene Melinda Handbags on the runway at Africa Fashion Week London 2015

It was a fun-fuelled two days for SHERENE MELINDA at this year’s Africa Fashion Week London, which took place on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th August at Olympia London. Africa Fashion Week is the largest catwalk show dedicated to African and African-inspired fashion in Europe. For more information about AFWL you can read our previous blog, found here. This blog is dedicated to bringing you all the highlights from our exhibitor’s stand and from the prestigious runway show.

Highlights from our exhibitor’s stand

We were due to take the stage on this year’s runway on Saturday at 1pm, so the first day was spent meeting other designers, press and customers at our exhibitor’s stand. It was overwhelming how many people came to show their support for our brand and our handbags.

We were privileged enough to speak to talented journalists and conduct interviews, pose for photographs and smile for the TV cameras. It was also a pleasure, as it always is, to have met so many customers, some of whom came to visit us after receiving the invitation through this blog.

After the two days came to an end, we were ecstatic to find out that we had been awarded the prize for best stand by AFWL, which entitles us to an automatic place at next year’s show. The announcement of this came as a surprise, not because our stand wasn’t beautiful, but because we weren’t aware that there was an award for this!

Highlights from the Catwalk Show

We were lucky enough to experience both sides of the runway, as our creative director took her place backstage, and we found our seats in the audience.

From behind the stage, creative director Sherene felt her adrenaline rush as the drums of our chosen music beat, (Way of Baba by Durban born Busi Mhlongo), as the catwalk shook under the strut of model’s feet. She told us that the atmosphere backstage was electric, everything happened so quickly, everybody was busy, and there was a lot of support around to ensure everything ran smoothly. The models were enjoying themselves, which was important to Sherene. The whole experience was, in her words, organised chaos (in a good way of course!).

In the audience, the atmosphere was equally as stimulating. There was a period of enjoyable anticipation as we waited for the bags to start coming out, so that we could see people’s reactions. The buzz of the crowd heightened as the models begun their walk down the runway. The audience’s sentiment only increased as the show progressed, and as they cheered and clapped, the hardest part of the show for us was whether to look through our eyes or our camera lenses. It is a difficult task to describe the feeling of pride we had throughout and after the show.

The aftermath

The post-AFWL experience is not even close to being over. Following the catwalk show at 1pm on Saturday, our exhibitor’s stand was flooded with even more people than on Friday looking to grab our attention, which we loved. The interviews we did will start being printed over the next few weeks and the hype of AFWL will take months to die down.

SHERENE MELINDA is appreciating all the mentions across social media following the show. AFWL posted the photo below on their Instagram page and it seemed our male model Emeka has garnered a lot of other positive attention from spectators (we’re sure it’s because of the bags!).

Below is a video posted by FashionCadet, who was in the audience, of the finale of our bags on the runway.

A special thanks

We want to say a very big thank you to Africa Fashion Week London for the opportunity

To South African brand Mungo, for their beautiful Kikois, which we had especially made for our models on the runway

To the gorgeous models who wore the handbags on this year’s catwalk

To everyone who came to our stand or was in the audience to meet us and show their support

And, of course, to all our customers and fans, for showing their continued support for our brand

We look forward to seeing you again next year!

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Our handbags are made using leather both inside and out. We use nappa leather on the outside and the handbags are lined with an ecofriendly (using no harmful chemicals or dyes) natural pigskin leather in the inside. This helps to make our bags incredibly soft and luxurious but also durable and longlasting.

For our signature feature that we have become known for we use genuine Springbok hair-on-hide leather. The ethical source of the materials is very important to us. Springbok are classified as non-cites (which means there is no threat to the survival of the species) and the animals live freely in abundance in South Africa. The sustainability of the species is carefully managed and the population is culled to keep the ecosystem in balance. The local food industry benefits from this and the by-products are also utilised in decorative ways in interiors, furniture and fashion.

All our leathers are a by-product of the food-industry.

We use only high quality YKK zips and silver-coloured metal chains, studs and handbag hardware.

All our handbags are offered with a white cotton dustbag to keep them clean.