Cape Town retailer and owner of boutique store Merchants on Long, Hanneli Rupert, sources items from across the continent and has a fresh and developed sense of style… HL chatted to her via Twitter about her style inspiration, her own secret talents, and design predictions for this season… @houseleisureSA: Your specialty is contemporary African design – what do you think makes our local crafts so special? @MerchantsonLong: In terms of African brands, I love our patterns and colour! We try and stock artisanal labels rather than crafts. @houseleisureSA: How do you go about spotting the latest, hottest design trends? @MerchantsonLong: A mix of following local and international press – I think African design is classic “tribal” and works every season. @houseleisureSA: Agreed! We love the strong African influence in your store. Which designer/ item is currently your favourite? @MerchantsonLong: Thanks! At the moment I’m loving the Ethiopian label LemLem and Near Far from Sierra Leone, and I’m also looking forward to the new @Lalesso stock. @houseleisureSA: We can’t wait to see! Your source route reaches from Cape to Cairo. What are some of your best spots? @MerchantsonLong: I’m inspired by West African music, love the voodoo of Central Africa, the beach vibe in East Africa, the subtlety of the Namib and much more! @houseleisureSA: Divine 🙂 What are your biggest design predictions for spring? @MerchantsonLong: Lots of layered prints and patterns, think Missoni style, except by local knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo (who we are stocking exclusively). @MerchantsonLong: That and our other big trend-to-be, frozen yoghurt! We are putting in a luxury pop-up FroYo ice-cream salon for summer, low fat and delicious! @houseleisureSA: Mmm… design and ice-cream 🙂 How can we resist? @houseleisureSA: Describe your own personal style in 3 words? @MerchantsonLong: Hmmm, tricky! Ummm, “reflective, esoteric and classical”. @houseleisureSA: You’re a trained painter – what other design secrets do you have to share? @MerchantsonLong: Try to be more introspective and discover what you really like, and only then look to external sources for inspiration. @houseleisureSA: Congratulations on your new, luxe leather handbag range, Okapi! When can we find them in store? @MerchantsonLong: Thanks, they are available to view @MerchantsonLong and will be for sale from November (exclusively in RSA) and in the UK in June next year. @houseleisureSA: Fantastic news. We look forward to seeing them! @MerchantsonLong: Please come for a coffee and (soon) a FroYo 🙂 @houseleisureSA: We certainly will, thanks! @houseleisureSA: Finally, seeing as our House of the Year was just announced, which was your favourite? bit.ly/iZxqdK @MerchantsonLong: They are all wonderful! I think Light Fantastic, number 8, has the most amazing structure. @MerchantsonLong: Although, the art in number 4 sways me…. Do I have to choose one? 🙂 @houseleisureSA: Great choice, Light Fantastic was in fact the winning house! @MerchantsonLong: Brilliant! @houseleisureSA: Thanks for chatting to us Hanneli, we’ll be popping in very soon to see all your latest finds. @MerchantsonLong: Thanks for having me! Look forward to seeing you at the store. Interviewed by Kim Grové. Get down to Merchants on Long, 34 Long Street, Cape Town, for a treasure trove of goodies and see for yourself what covetable items Hanneli has been sourcing! You can also contact the store on 021-422-2828 if you have any queries. Read more about Hanneli and her unique sense of style in this month’s Trend Scoop on page 16 of our September 2011 issue! Photographs courtesy of Carmen Lorraine.