Five items to buy at this year's Handmade Contemporary

Mantua silkwear
Mantua silkwear

An annual highlight for shoppers and lovers of all things beautiful, Handmade Contemporary is back and is offering the best from the continent’s top designers, chefs and vignerons. Grethe Kemp spoke to some of this year’s exhibitors to find out what their most beautiful items are that we should look out for.

Handmade Contemporary
Hyde Park Corner
October 10 to 13
R130 to R360 at

Every year, the Hyde Park Corner rooftop is transformed into a sumptuous shopping paradise.

With a curated mix of 120 exhibitors, there is always so much to choose from. So we decided to go straight to the exhibitors and ask them what they think we should buy this year.

We asked: “We are sure you love and covet every item that you put on sale, but what is the one piece that you are really proud of and would most love for people to buy at the fair?”

Heart & Heritage

This women’s ready-to-wear clothing brand is proudly made in Johannesburg.

Lesley Whitter: “This is for sure our signature cut, the handpainted bow dress. We feel this design has become iconic of our brand, and is by far our most coveted and desired piece. Each bow dress is handpainted, making each its own work of art and one-of-a-kind, just like the people who wear them.


Messay Cotton and Leather

Founded in 2014 and inspired by the ancient weaving traditions of Ethiopia, Messay Cotton and Leather sells handwoven, 100% cotton accessories such as scarves, sarongs, kaftans, ponchos and towels.

Messaynesh Geberesilassie: “If I had to pick one product, it would be our scarves. They are ethically made with the finest cotton; hand-dyed in natural colours using flowers, vegetables and roots; are suited for every occasion and season; and make perfect gifts and home décor. Our scarves remind me of my childhood – the joy we had when we wore our traditional clothes because they were reserved only for special occasions. With all the bright colours and dresses and scarves, we sure looked beautiful. Our products are also available at the Bryanston Organic and Natural Market.”


The Herd

With its unique neck pieces, The Herd pays homage to the iconic beading culture pioneered and mastered by Zulu women. Its products are exclusively manufactured by women based in rural areas and townships.

Mbali Mthethwa: “This item is special to me because it represents tradition and culture, with regards to how it has changed and keeps changing. It is up to us – this generation – to define what that change is and what it means for self. It represents a contemporary expression of old beading tradition, giving it a new expression. This piece will create joy for others because it brings modernness to the beading culture; beading like you have never seen before!”


Flowstone Gin

This award-winning small-batch, handmade, premium craft gin produced in the Cradle of Humankind uses unique combinations of local indigenous bushveld botanicals to create lead flavour profiles.

Glyn French: “We have something really special for the Handmade Contemporary Fair. We will be introducing our first collector’s choice, limited-release gin – the Flowstone Snuffbox Gin. Like all Flowstone gins, its defining flavour is created using wild African botanicals – this one uses the fruit of the snuffbox tree. Looking almost like a Fabergé art piece, the fruit contains an edible pulp that has leathery notes of cacao and coffee, with an edge of burnt caramel on the nose. It’s quite delightful and we are incredibly proud of it, especially as it has just won double gold at this year’s Michelangelo Awards. It will be available at the fair in bottles or in a stunning gift pack.”


Mantua Silkwear

Juandi Andra’s art sees the artist digitally print her watercolour artworks on limited-edition silk scarves, which are proudly made in South Africa.

Juandi Andra: “Our favourite item on sale is a silk crepe de Chine scarf from our new collection. The scarf is called Artemis, after the Greek goddess of wild animals and the wilderness. It is a bold, bright mix of vibrant red, orange, yellow and pink animal prints.

“This scarf is from our Shujaa collection for Summer/Spring 2020. Shujaa means warrior in Swahili, which is the most spoken language in Africa. This scarf, with its warm colour palette, is the ultimate expression of radiant female energy in synchronicity with nature and its rhythms.”



This economic upliftment design label produces beautifully handcrafted products for dogs ... and humans.

Zac Rusagara: “We’re especially proud of our Sunny Side Up phone necklace because it’s not only a product that’s made from upcycled leather that would otherwise be thrown away, but is beautiful and incredibly practical at the same time.

“Whether you’re on the move in the city, or going on a night out on the town, or even doing your favourite exercise activity, the Sunny Side Up makes sure your phone is always safe and ready for use while keeping your hands free!


“It’s able to hold up to 5kg and is fully adjustable to fit any height so that it fits neatly at your side.”

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