Celebrating its 15th birthday this year, Jo’burg’s pre-eminent work-play precinct 44 Stanley has been put under the looking glass, studied and polished, emerging as a flagship destination for the city
Next time you’re at 44 Stanley, you must stop in at these stores:
‘We want to build a complete wardrobe of high-quality, affordable basics, with the average man in mind,’ says Lagos-born Taire Avbovbo of his impressive menswear label, whose offerings are made using the finest natural fibres like cotton and wool. Having earned his MBA in America, Avbovbo later came back to Africa, working as a management consultant for retail brands. When he finally gave in to his calling and opened Odrin, Avbovbo brought a rare mix of sartorial savvy and business know-how to the table. ‘When I’m really on point, I feel that, given my background, there are few people who can do what I do,’ he says.
Zimbabwean-born Shingai Nyagweta had a diplomatic upbringing in Europe for most of her youth, but on her return to Africa, she says she was suddenly ‘thrown into a world of colour’. ‘I wanted to incorporate African prints into pieces with modern styling.’ Having honed her skills at The Foschini Group, Marianne Fassler and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, it was Nyagweta’s late niece Kunashe who gave rise to the brand KuNa Kids, which became the source of multiple orders for print-centric garments. Today, Nyagweta’s store vibrates with her collection of kids‘ clothing and accessories made from traditional ankara, chitenge and shweshwe fabrics.
The Storer is undeniably one of the best-looking shops to arrive at 44 Stanley. Globetrotting owner Lisa Storer’s mix of homeware, accessories and jewellery has been created by community elders, craftsmen and small-town artisans who craft by hand using sustainable resources. The brand came about when Storer was seeking something more meaningful than the mass-produced, cost-cutting retail market that many major names have created. Artfully styled in her large shop, you’ll find an exotic array of woollen rugs, woven textiles, brass tableware and ceramics, all bearing the marks of their makers.
Heavy with the smell of leather, rows of beautifully crafted slings, totes and backpacks hang in this small store, offering customers well-priced and well-made classics with a social conscience. It was founder Nick Meinert’s grandfather’s backpack that inspired the making of a new generation of honest leather staples. ‘Our whole philosophy is about giving back, ’explains Jo’burg-based Operations Manager Alister Eugene Koeresies – so much so that the brand empowers its staff by housing and up-skilling them. rowdybags.com
Devoted environmentalist Vicki Bain’s Chocoloza beckons you from outside with a cocoa-scented trail and casual café scene. It’s here that Bain’s all-women team crafts the brand’s famous range of artisanal chocolates. Taking the best of Belgium and partnering it with the best of Africa, Bain uses only Belgian chocolate with no artificial additives, and incorporates locally, sustainably farmed ingredients like granadilla, macadamia nuts, berries and coffee from 44 Stanley’s Bean There roastery. It’s not surprising to learn that Bain lived in Belgium for over a decade, qualifying as a chocolatier under the guidance of the world’s foremost chocolate artisans.
KwaZulu-Natal-based Silvia Miles launched the first physical store of her online business Milestone Kitchens at 44 Stanley just a few months ago. With its stylish interior, this alluring space offers customers the opportunity to experience the brand’s solid-wood, modular kitchen units in a lifestyle setting. We love that Milestone Kitchens has filled a gap in the market for locally made, competitively priced, free-standing units, from its kitchen-in-a-cupboard to its steel-topped pastry island. Our top pick is the Njabulo bookshelf, with its spacious built-in sleeping area designed for pet dogs or cats.
Read about 2018’s Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair next.
Text: Mila Crewe-Brown Photographs: Graeme Wyllie