Elle Lokko
Elle Lokko | Image credit @saimagery

Exploring African cities through luxury and style: The five must-visit stores putting Africa on the map

A powerhouse of creativity and energy, Africa is firmly in the global spotlight. For generations, the continent has danced to the beat of its own drum and now the rest of the world is focusing on Africa’s rich cultural tapestry and all that it has to offer.

From Cape Town to Lagos, Accra, Johannesburg and Nairobi, each city has unique stores blending luxury and contemporary fashion and lifestyle. Whether you are looking to explore global brands with a cult-like following or collectives showcasing the essence of African flair and innovation, these are the five stores you need to visit now.

1. CHIMI (Cape Town, South Africa)

The latest flagship store to hit South African shores, CHIMI is a Swedish eyewear brand founded in 2016 with the philosophy to inspire the capturing of every aspect of modern active life. With a footprint in Stockholm and Paris, the brand’s first foray into Africa makes a statement. Nestled in the heart of Cape Town’s creative hub, the store aims to transcend the transactional nature of retail, inviting one into a realm where products intertwine with storytelling. The space is a curated narrative with every element a deliberate articulation of CHIMI’s identity.

Website | Instagram
Location: 69 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, South Africa

CHIMI Eyewear

2. Alára (Lagos, Nigeria)

Alára is a luxury concept store in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria. Situated in Victoria Island, a district known for its energetic business atmosphere, and modern architecture. The store is carefully expressed as a space that has metamorphosed the cultural landscape of Lagos and the perception of luxury and creativity in Africa. Founded by Reni Folawiyo, Nigerian lawyer turned fashion entrepreneur and businesswoman, Alára is a fashion hub that promotes emerging talent and is a space for the appreciation and curation of art collectibles such as furniture, textiles, fashion, and sculpture.

Website | Instagram
Location: 12a Akin Olugbade St, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria


3. Elle Lokko (Accra, Ghana)

Conceived by Stefania Manfreda, Elle Lokko stands as Accra, Ghana’s inaugural women’s concept store. Established in September 2015, it is delineated as “a collage of cultural and commercial entities consisting of fashion, music, lifestyle, art and photography”. Manfreda strives to preserve a nostalgic ambiance across Elle Lokko and its array of offerings while simultaneously solidifying the store as the premier destination for contemporary women seeking authentic experiences.

Website | Instagram
Location: 14 Lokko Road, Accra, Ghana

Elle Lokko
Image credit @filmbyem

4. Mille Collines (Nairobi, Kenya, Cape Town & Johannesburg, South Africa)

The meeting of Ines Mille, a Spanish design student, and Antoinette Mukakalisa, a Rwandan seamstress sparked the launch of the fashion brand Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2009. With co-founder Marc Collines, a shared vision, and mentorship, the Pan-African brand grew immensely creating ground-breaking products in Africa with the philosophy that joy can be transferred into an object made with love and care. Mille Collines is now situated across three African countries, with spaces in Cape Town and Johannesburg within South Africa, as well as in Nairobi, Kenya.

Website | Instagram
Locations: Village Market, Nairobi, Kenya. Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, South Africa. The Watershed V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.

Image credit @katinkabester

5. UNI FORM (Johannesburg, South Africa)

UNI FORM is a South African, Johannesburg-based contemporary clothing brand by Luke Radloff. Driven by an unwavering ethos and a paramount goal to surpass outdated perceptions of Africa’s offerings, Radloff achieves this through trans-seasonal pieces that uniquely capture the essence of a revitalised South Africa. The brand seeks to further redefine expectations and showcase the diverse and timeless allure of the continent, shedding light on its rich cultural tapestry through a contemporary lens.

Website | Instagram
Location: 23, 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg, South Africa

Image credit @luxolowitvoet

Encapsulating the dynamic spirit and cultural richness that define African cities, these stores are a must for any fashion-focused itinerary. As Africa continues to shape and welcome global trends, these stores stand as testaments to the boundless creativity and unique stories that unfold across the continent. They beckon not only as spaces to shop but as immersive experiences that capture the essence of each city’s soul.