Don't Miss This: Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair

Wash bags by Aureum.

Wash bags by Aureum.

Hyde Park Corner is known for housing international luxury brands that include, Versace and Emporio Armani, but for the weekend it will host aspiring designers from provinces as far as Limpopo and the Western Cape at the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair.

This year the fair draws focus on the theme, “made in Africa.” According to the fair’s co-founder and Artlogic’s director and general manager, Cobi Labuscagne, each year the fair zooms in on a special project and 2015 is no different. The fair officially opened on October 8 at Hyde Park Corner, in Jo’burg.

The building’s rooftop has been transformed into a market with about 120 exhibitors selling products that range from handbags to ceramics.

“We have a staple of about 50% of exhibitors that keep coming each year and a lot of them are from Cape Town and this is the only time Jo’burg interacts with them. The other 50% is brand new exhibitors,” Labuscagne tells the Mail&Guardian.

Items from Trebene.

She founded the fair with Artlogic’s director Ross Douglas in 2010 after spotting a gap in the local craftsmanship market. It started out as a Christmas market that sought to celebrate craft and grew into a notable event on the market calendar. 

“When we started the fair there were not a lot of markets around; there wasn’t a lot of appreciation for this kind of product. It was a very thin economy and we just didn’t know if it [the craft fair] was going to work but being able to find our place in the economy is truly gratifying,” says Labuscagne.

For her, the craft industry is moving more and more towards creating individualist products – a market that she regards as niche.

“There are new products being brought into the market. We have a whole range of African hair care products this year.” Labuscagne adds that wood is currently a popular craft material.

Leg Studios’s twil tattoo top

“This industry is less trend focused because it’s so much about your personal passion. The turnover is so much slower – it’s not really from season to season so a lot of the producers who’ve been coming here for five years, bring similar products each year because that is what they are really good at.”

New exhibitors include Suki Suki Naturals, an African natural hair care line, and Benji + Moon, which specialises in handcrafted items for dogs and cats. Benji + Moon is officially launching its products at the fair. Their products include handmade dog and cat beds and leather collars, to name a few.

Suki Suki hair products 

“This [fair] is our tester. We are throwing ourselves into the market to see what works and what doesn’t. It will be our first time showing our products to the public and we are very excited about it,” says Hanneke Schutte, who founded the brand with her friend Karen Carr.

Going forward, Labuscagne hopes the fair will continue to grow steadily. “We get a good amount of visitors each year. My hope is to continue with the fair and to strength the relationships with our audiences and exhibitors.”

The Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair runs from October 9 - 11. For more info on the fair times and ticket prices visit

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