When you think ‘South Africa’, visions of safaris, vineyards and whales might come to mind. What you probably don’t think is: cutting-edge fashion. Which is a shame, as you’d be doing the country – and Cape Town especially – a disservice. This cornerstone creative hub is brimming with independent designers and there’s no shortage of up-and-coming accessories labels, too, making everything from on-trend socks and statement jewellery. Bring a full purse and an empty suitcase: the Mother City is one hot mama…
No Saturday in Cape Town is complete without a trip to the Brooklyn-esque district of Woodstock, where the Neighbourgoods Market gets into in full swing from morning to early afternoon. Wend your way through stalls full of handmade goatskin wallets and leather bags (Research Unit), bird-of-paradise-print one pieces (Gabrielle Swimwear), brass chokers and rings (Matter of Fakt) and raw denim (Real + Simple). The market is a must-stop, between bites of Dutch bitterballen, Argentinian sandwiches and Moroccan breakfast bowls (washed down with young coconuts, nitro-brew coffee and craft beer, of course).
Consider this your one-stop shop for all things related to traditional South African art, craft, design and style. Housed in a gigantic warehouse space on the V&A Waterfront, the Watershed houses more than 300 design brands spread over 150 individual stores and knocks the hand-darned socks off any conventional mall. You may spot some of the same local labels as at other markets and shops, but it’s guaranteed there will be finds you never knew you needed, whether it’s a carved wooden vase, malachite coasters or a jaw-droppingly beautiful pendant necklace.
Bree Street is currently on fire when it comes to dining, but there are also some worthwhile stops for retail therapy. Accessory lovers will appreciate the one-two punch of Kirsten Goss and Missibaba – a jewellery and handbag designer, respectively – who share a space. First Thursdays, when the shops stay open later, are a prime time to browse the fine statement jewellery and bold bags made by these two South African talents. Alexandra Hojer Atelier is another eye-catching space on Bree Street, which isn’t far from the elegant Kensington Place hotel. The Swedish-born designer makes her rock ’n’ roll-imbued, contemporary clothing and lingerie (plus menswear) in the back of the ex-warehouse.
Situated on a lively block of trendy Long Street, Mungo & Jemima is a haven for those in search of authentic souvenirs. The boutique exclusively stocks South African designers – of clothing, accessories, sunnies and jewellery – including Selfi, Coppelia, Margot Molyneux, Matter of Fakt and Ora. The brainchild of two local fashion insiders, the shop (just a short drive from serene boutique hotel Welgelegen) represents the best of the country’s eclectic style.