Written by Ada Mbogu
Photography by Brianna Ek
Fashion made a cultural splash as style enthusiasts and onlookers gathered at the Pikolinos flagship store in Chelsea for Adiree’s African Fashion Week Pop-Up Shop Event on Friday June 14th.
Pikolinos, a shoe and bag retail magnate, showcased their impressive boot, sandals, clothing and satchel collection while serving the guests glasses of red and white wine, hors d’oeuvres and cultural music.
But the real reason behind the evening’s festivties was to celebrate Pikolinos Maasai Project, a collaborative effort to debut a line of shoes and bags designed in Kenya by over 1600 women from the Maasai tribe. The Maasai tribe is one of the most threatened groups of people on the planet according to the United Nations.
“The Maasai Project is a great way to help the women in Kenya become more sustainable and independent ,” said Bisila Bokoko, who is the global brand ambassador and strategist for Pikolinos and The Maasai Project.
The Maasai women are the masterminds behind creating the immaculate Spring and Summer Pikolinos collection. The women handcraft the leather used on the shoes and bags with typical Maasai beadwork embroidery, which is then sent to Pikolinos factories in Spain to the finishing chain process, creating an exclusively designed an high-quality product.
“Pikolinos does a lot to give back to the community and the women of the Maasai tribe. All the profits from any of the shoes and handbags from the collection goes directly back to the tribe,” said store manager Lindsey Shweede, showing how Pikolinos’s involvement in socially responsible projects can help benefit the community.
“Here at Pikolinos we are extremely excited and passionate about the new collection and are incredibly proud of the women’s ability to make such beautiful designs,” exclaimed Bokoko.
Speaking of the new collection, who is the fresh face behind Pikolinos cultural masterpiece?
“Olivia Palermo is such a great and talented person and a style trendsetter and when we discussed the project together she was really into it and really got involved,” said Bokoko. Olivia Palermo, who is currently the Maasai Project Ambassador, starred in the hit MTV series The City back in 2009 and is synonymous all over the world for her ecletic and polished style.
But the pop-up shop event could not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of the luxury communications and branding company, Adiree, who worked closely with Pikolinos to help showcase The Massai Project collection, as well as enforce the re-branding of Africa as a destination for luxury brands.
“Africa is well in life. There are beautiful aspects of Africa as there are beautiful aspects in every part of the world,” said Adiat Disu, founder of Adiree.
“I think collaborating with Pikolinos for example is great because they have a sustainable project and I love the way they present Africa. They present Africa and their partnership with The Maasai people as something very beautiful, not as a charity or poverty case. They showcase our people in their beauty and in their element.”