With today's e-tailers, the latest It-bag from Paris is hardly ever out of reach, nor is a pair of handcrafted Italian shoes. So, when Amira Rasool visited Africa for the first time, she was inspired by all the luxurious designs — but immediately had questions. "With all the technology and all the different systems we have in place, why is it that we don't have access to it — or [rather, why are] there certain people that don't have access to us?" Rasool tells TZR. It was then that the seed known as The Folklore was planted. The New York-based concept store exclusively stocks brands from Africa and the diaspora. Its goal? Connect U.S. shoppers with African and diasporan luxury.
To start an international business from scratch — without any outside capital or partnerships — planning was paramount. "I have always been a ridiculous researcher. I think that's probably what drove me to major in history, and what drove me to being a writer," says Rasool, a former writer-turned-entrepreneur, with credits like TIME and Vogue. "I created a list of 100 different questions, and the answers to those questions turned it into a 25-page business plan. I let that guide me." After developing The Folklore entirely on her own for nine months, Rasool launched the store in September 2018, with a roster of 20 African brands. Since then, its repertoire has only grown— with several new designers being added this fall.
The brands currently at The Folklore are multifarious, well-curated, and always ethical. Most products on-site are handmade, with brands like Loza Maléombho (a Beyoncé favorite that just appeared in Black is King) working with masterful artisans whose craft has been passed down over generations. "These are things that The Folklore customer values. [For those who] may not be a Folklore customer yet — particularly those that are spending luxury dollars — I'm hoping they will grow to appreciate what we're contributing to the industry," says Rasool.
Stunning and considered as The Folklore's robust offering is, it's about far more than just giving people nice things, according to Rasool. "I wanted to really increase the visibility of these designers —but more importantly, to increase the amount of money that they can make; increase the amount of exports that come out of Africa; increase the amount of people that are employed. It's a ripple effect," she shares. "I wanted to create a business that made an impact — culturally, economically, and socially."
To shop the stockist's greatest looks from African and diasporan brands, continue ahead — and be sure to check out its site for the full offering:
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