UPDATE (November 2017): Hlamvu is no longer located in Greenside. There is currently a Hlamvu shop in the Commissioner Street Pop-Up Arcade, and Hlamvu products are also available online.

As I’ve written before, I am not a fashionable person. There are many great South African fashion blogs out there and this isn’t one of them, so I generally stay away from writing about clothes and focus on the things I’m good at — like eating and instagramming and storytelling. But I’ve recently come across a boutique that I particularly love and I want to tell you about it.

Hlamvu BoutiqueHlamvu Afrocentric Boutique in Greenside.

 There are many things I love about Hlamvu Afrocentric Boutique:

1) Hlamvu is uniquely African.

Hlamvu’s founder and designer, Liflet Ncube, is originally from Zimbabwe. She founded the company in South Africa and the fabric she uses is from Ghana. The result is a unique explosion of West African and Southern African style.

Handbags and clothes in HlamvuColorful clothes and handbags for sale in Hlamvu.

2) It’s conveniently located (for me).

Hlamvu is in Greenside, which is almost in Melville. I love having such a fashionable shop less than 10 minutes’ drive from my house.

3) It’s affordable.

People often complain about how expensive clothes are in South Africa. But great clothes aren’t expensive if you buy local. Hlamvu’s clothes, despite being handmade with gorgeous, high-quaility fabric, are far cheaper than comparable merchandise from Woolworth’s. (Some of Hlamvu’s merchandise is made in Ghana but most of it is made in South Africa. And the last time I was there, Hlamvu’s lovely salesperson Siboniso told me that they’re in the process of consolidating all of their operations in SA.)

4) The clothes work on real bodies.

I love the simplicity of Hlamvu’s designs. The dresses and jackets fit just the way I like them — nicely tailored but not too tight, and not loose or shapeless, either. When I went shopping there recently I found several jackets and dresses that I loved but I eventually settled on one dress, which I wore to the recent Translating Joburg storytelling event.

5) Hlamvu has great men’s clothing.

My boyfriend, Ray, looks amazing in African prints. I bought him a shirt from Hlamvu for his birthday and he loves it. As you’ll see in the photos below, the shirt was made for him.

6) Alterations are free.

The shirt I bought for Ray was a bit too big for him off the rack. So I brought it back, along with another one of Ray’s shirts, and Hlamvu tailored the new shirt perfectly to match the old one. For free.

7) It’s a lovely place to shop.

The staff are friendly and helpful, the shop has great feng shui, the clothes tend to fit, and Hlamvu is just a delightful place. It’s a shop for people who don’t like shopping.

And now I will end this post with an awkward fashion shoot, produced by (and featuring) two people who know nothing about fashion: Ray and me.

Ray in Hlamvu shirt normal pose
As you can see, Ray’s shirt couldn’t match him (or his pants) more perfectly.

Heather in Hlamvu dress
Me in my Hlamvu dress, feeling awkward as I suddenly realize I don’t like fashion shoots.

Ray in Hlamvu boxing poseChannelling Muhammed Ali?

Heather in Hlamvu from above
More awkwardness. I wish I’d asked Ray to shoot a profile so you could see the asymmetrical hemline. But again, not a fashion blogger.

Ray in Hlamvu shirtRay, being Ray.

Heather Hlamvu crazy poseTrying to follow Ray’s example but not sure it’s working for me.

Ray gansta rapperChanelling his inner gangster rapper?

Heather Hlamvu closeupWhen I finally gave up on being awkward and decided to look normal.

If you want to buy beautiful, affordable, well-fitting African clothes in a delightful environment, make your way to Hlamvu Afrocentric Boutique. It’s at 133 Greenway in Greenside.

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