By Andrea Whittle. Photos: Courtesy Brother Vellies.
She's Toronto-born and Brooklyn-based, but Aurora James dreamed up her first collection while sitting in a tree house in Nairobi. Now, the founder of Brother Vellies designs and produces her fluffy-chic line of shoes and accessories (think marabou-tufted slides, pink shearling clogs, and springbok hair sandals) in workshops in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Morocco. Every few months, she heads over to meet with her teams and visit neighboring communities to scout for artisanal skills that can be incorporated into future designs. Here, she shares with us her go-to spots for drinks, shopping, and inspiration in Cape Town.
THE BEST SHOPPING:
"I definitely have a love for Merchants on Long in Cape Town. They were the first boutique within Africa to stock the Brother Vellies collection and the founder, Hanneli [Rupert], is truly lovely. She has her own line of bags called [Okapi](https://www.okapi.com/us/) that are wonderful and also made in South Africa. Maison Mara is also a great place to go for your last-minute emergency Proenza Schouler denim jacket and other frivolous designer goods you wouldn’t expect to find while on vacation in Africa. I met the guys behind Adriaan Kuiters and the AKJP shop while on a trip in Dubai—their store is a really fun surprise, too."
THE BEST BAR:
"The Good Night Market at the Watershed is a lovely place to take in local entertainment while snacking from a variety of vendors and watching the local passersby. I love to grab a drink and take a stroll there while taking in the sights and sounds. The fresh ocean air in Cape Town makes every night feel a little more magical. I’m also a sucker for the local South African braai (barbecue) which is not to be missed when you’re there. "
THE CREATIVE SCENE:
"The Old Biscuit Mill on weekends is an amazing place to go to find new interesting creative people and their wares. There are lots of tiny shops and amazing South-African-made pieces. Everything from sandals to silk dresses and sculptural items. Its a must-visit for locals and tourists alike. There is also a ton of buzz around Zeitz MOCAA which is set to open later this year. My favorite gallery is called What If The World,—they always have fantastic shows there. Its a great opportunity to take in the contemporary South African art scene firsthand. Design Indaba is an amazing conference that takes place in early March every year. It brings together some of the most creative people across Africa to highlight their work—it was one of the first places I showcased Brother Vellies outside of New York."
YOUNG ARTISTS TO WATCH:
"Qhama Maswana is a South African painter who creates stunning surreal imagery of life in Africa. His depictions of women are arresting and whimsical. I really enjoyed the female sculptural pieces by the artist Ingxowa yeGqwirhakazi."
ADVICE FOR AFRICA FIRST-TIMERS:
"Get your luggage situation organized. Know where you’re going and what the restrictions are. If you’re going on safari, usually you can only pack soft luggage. Don’t leave your safari vehicle unattended, the monkeys will steal your cell phone in under 90 seconds. Henna is only black when its mixed with oil. Mango as you know it will never be the same once you’ve tried Kenyan mango—there are no words. If you're an American black man, everyone will call you Obama. Take it as a compliment. Everything in the souks is 70 percent less than what they tell you. And order the beef tagine!"
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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