Because there’s no place quite like the Great British high street – from its niche independents, to seasonal pop-ups and those expansive yet elegant department stores – Because Magazine is on a mission to champion the bricks-and-mortar of London in all its glory. Each week, we’ll beeline to the rails of our favourite retailers to scope out the must-have pieces and in-store exclusives that are more than worth making an effort for. This week, we're at the Akojo Market pop-up in Spitalfields Market to find out more about what we should be wearing this season.

Having "respectively spent a lot of time in Africa" shares one of the co-founders, Natasha Buchler at their first retail pop-up in Spitalfields Market, they've "met the most amazing brands and designers who didn't have a route to market." Consequently in 2019, Akojo Market was born, as a digital platform "that shines a light on [African] brands, designers and in particular, their makers." 

As part of the marketplace's ethos, Natasha and her co-founder Annie Rudnick make sure that the artisans and craftsman are never exploited. "The way we're structured means that they're getting paid much better than minimum wage, which really financially empowers those makers – who are mainly women – so that they can make the decisions they want to and cultivate their traditional craft whilst getting paid well for it." Stocking products that span the realms of fashion, beauty and homeware, all of the featured brands are completely transparent businesses, and are working with Akojo Market to give their employees the best working conditions and livelihoods possible.

To tell us more about each of the brand's stories, Annie takes us through a few of the products they have stocked in their newly opened pop-up.

What... A Malaika Cotton jacket.

Why... "This brand is one of the newest ones to join our platform. It's really inspired by the Kenyan coast and their ethos is about working and collaborating with local artisans in a sustainable way. We've picked this beautiful cotton quilted jacket which features lovely palm trees on the outside. It's actually reversible, and we sell three different designs of this jacket. It's the perfect spring outerwear option to throw on for the season."

What... a Khokho Jabu Basket bag in Smoke Blush.

Why... "All of their collections are hand woven using latency grass by artisans in Eswatini. This brand is exemplary for their use of meticulous craftsmanship, as they really preserve traditional skills and use local materials within the region. This bag is your go-to, all year bag that you'll want to use everyday."

What... an Ardmore Design cushion cover.

"This is a South African luxury homeware brand who usually produce ceramic ranges, and work with loads of local artists to create whimsical, and colourful patterns that show flora and animals that are really traditionally found in the Zambezi basin. They're very symbiotic through their use of the colours and patterns, as you would see their choice of iconography throughout South Africa. We've chosen this velvet cushion cover of a cheetah, which has a unique design that travels from the front to the back, because it's a really striking cushion that you can have outdoors for garden entertaining or within your lounge."

Visit the Akojo Market pop-up in Spitalfields Market, 56 Brushfield St, London E1 6AA.

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