Welcome to Week 19 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Aranda Textile Mills, home of the Basotho blanket. Basotho blankets are not made in Lesotho, the tiny country for which the blankets are named. Originally produced in England, these woollen symbols of Basotho culture are now produced at Aranda, a factory/showroom in the South African town of Randfontein on Johannesburg’s West Rand. I’ve been wanting to visit Aranda since I learned about it in 2013 from the Basotho blanket ladies of Clarens. (Read more about Basotho blankets and the blanket ladies here and here.) I finally got my chance a few weeks ago. The Basotho blanket sales room at Aranda. Aranda’s extraordinary story started several generations ago with the Magnis, an Italian textile-making family in Tuscany. The Magnis’ factory was destroyed by the Germans during World War II, and a South African colonel convinced the family to move their operation to South Africa after the war ended. After several decades of producing a range of blankets and shawls at their mill in Randfontein, the Magnis added Basotho blankets to […]
I first visited the Oriental Plaza six-and-a-half years ago, on 18 August 2010, 12 days after I moved to Johannesburg. I know this because I wrote a blog post about it the following day. The first photo I ever took at the Oriental Plaza, in August 2010. I’ve been to the Plaza at least 50 times since that first visit (read about other visits here and here and here), and the place still awes and delights me every time. It’s always at the top of my list of recommendations for things to do in Joburg. So imagine my joy when an opportunity arose to work with the Oriental Plaza on a social media campaign, encouraging people to come to the Plaza for an Instameet to kick off the Festive Season. (“Festive Season” is South African for “Holiday Season”.) I am so, so excited to host an Instameet at the Oriental Plaza. Our announcement for the upcoming Instameet — Instagram-speak for a gathering of photographers. As you can see, the Plaza is already decked out for Christmas. It’s a mall, technically, but the Plaza bears no resemblance to the bland, suburban megamalls that Johannesburg is famous for. First of all, the Plaza is in […]
If you read this blog then you already know that downtown Jozi is cool. But do you know about Work Shop New Town? This particular corner of Joburg takes coolness to a whole new level. Ntsaki (left) and Jade (right), two salespeople at Work Shop New Town who are also contenders for the two coolest people in all of Johannesburg. They’re surrounded by shoes from Maria McCloy, one of Joburg’s coolest designers. I intend to buy a pair of these shoes very soon. Work Shop New Town is “an innovative retail concept” in Newtown, adjacent to the Newtown Junction mall. It’s a modern, open-plan glass structure, filled with small fashion and design shops that meld seamlessly into one another. Work Shop New Town is built on the site of Joburg’s “Potato Sheds”, a historic fruit and vegetable market built in 1911 that was torn down to make way for Newtown Junction. There’s not much left of the actual Potato Sheds, unfortunately, but the old trolley tracks to the market are still there and run right outside of Work Shop New Town. I’m not a big shopper, as I’ve said many times before, but Work Shop New Town has the kind of shopping […]
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 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. Colorful 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 […]
I’ve written about the Fashion Kapitol before, more than once actually. But I can’t say enough good things about it. The Fashion Kapitol, which most people don’t even know exists, is quintessential Jozi. If you show up there (130 Pritchard Street in the Fashion District, next to the building with the giant “Sew Africa” sign) on the right day, at the right time, you will experience Joburg at its best. This is Joburg.
Fashion is not really my thing. I don’t buy many clothes and don’t keep track of what is and isn’t fashionable. Fashion is not something I ever gave much thought to at all. Until I moved to Joburg, that is. Joburg has a wacky, unpretentious, Africanized, anything-goes kind of fashion culture that I love. Park yourself on any downtown Joburg street, on any given Saturday afternoon, and within a few minutes you’ll see a man wearing a bright red suit, giant plastic glasses, and white patent-leather shoes (or some combination thereof). You won’t blink an eye because the man will somehow blend perfectly with his surroundings. There’s something about Joburg that makes me wish I were more fashionable, while at the same time giving even less of a sh#t than I ever did before. Does this make sense? Probably not.
I’ve written several times about Joburg’s Oriental Plaza — a giant Indian shopping mall in Fordsburg. “The Plaza”, as locals call it, is one of my favorite spots in town. So when my friend Anita called me up on her birthday and invited me to go to The Plaza to pick up a rabbit fur coat, I dropped everything and complied. I know what you’re thinking: Anita’s birthday, The Plaza, a rabbit fur coat? WTF? Anita, Johnson, and me at The Plaza.
UPDATE: The Cargo Kilts shop in Melville closed in 2013. Sniff. You might remember my post from a couple of weeks ago about the the Fête de la Musique. It featured Cargo Kilts, the new Scottish kilt shop in Melville. In that post I wrote: I know these kilts are made for men but I kind of want one for myself. A few days later I received a message from Sean, the manager of Cargo Kilts: Very kind comments made by you about our new store, but I need to correct you. Kilts are Unisex, AND, we have been known to make mini-kilts for ladies. Come in for a measurement sometime…
My friend Michelle was in town today on a nine-hour layover, and I took her on a whirlwind sight-seeing tour of Joburg. On our way to the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein we came across a Volkswagen Beetle parked on Juta Street. The car was covered in vintage clothes. Lungi’s mobile vintage shop. The car belongs to a young woman named Lungi, and her husband, Allah. Lungi (who seems to be the main spokesperson for the business) said they wanted to open a stall inside the market but the costs are too high. So they decided to set up shop on the street.