Slow, sustainable and signature – everything that fashion should be. This is what Parktown’s Frances Edwards has created with her online store, House of Cinnamon.
Frances Edwards founded House of Cinnamon in 2014 and has dedicated her business to the creation of design-conscious shoes, accessories and select clothing. The owner of the successful online store has mastered principles that South Africans are only just starting to understand.
‘The present Covid-related disruption to the consumption status quo has been a long time coming,’ Frances says.
‘Previously, consumerism, waste and instant gratification were rampant. During this last year, we have been forced to slow down and to re-evaluate the way we have been leading our lives and to question our consumer habits. We have become more conscious of our buying patterns, more sensitive to the impact that our consumption of mass-produced, high-volume goods has on the environment, more aware of the consequences of prizing quantity over quality, and we have shifted to focusing on sustainability and enduring value, to appreciate that less is more.’
This ethos became apparent to Frances when she was travelling South-East Asia for several months. ‘I had only packed about 10 basic wash-and-wear items, which I wore almost continuously during that time. It became apparent that I actually needed no more and this taught me a really important lesson about materialism and having too much stuff. I made the personal decision that I didn’t want to contribute to over-consumption and waste.
‘I wanted to live more consciously and be discerning about the purchases I made, as quality mattered more than quantity. House of Cinnamon is based around the values of minimalism, craftsmanship, high quality and good value. Our main focus is on creating lasting and timeless items, rather than being at the mercy of transient trends.’
A quick browse around the website and the proof is there – each item has a rightful place in a staple, signature wardrobe.
Frances is also proudly South African and passionate about what we can offer the world. ‘South Africa has a wealth of broad-based talent and an abundance of deep-experience craftsmanship. There are so many amazingly creative local brands that are making innovative pieces of art, beautiful accessories, fabulous clothing and striking jewellery.
‘As fellow South Africans, we need to recognise and support these brands, to step away from the “status quo” of thinking that anything “international” is necessarily superior or “more desirable”. In order to hold our own against competition, we need to stand together and now is as good a time as ever to do that. The current economic and social hiatus is an opportunity in disguise. While we have everything we need right here, it requires our goodwill and conscious effort to embrace the opportunity for change.’
So how did this design powerhouse come to be? Necessity, as always, proved to be the mother of invention. When Frances couldn’t find a pair of shoes that she wanted, she founded a business instead. ‘In 2014, as I had not been able to find the kind and quality of shoes I wanted to wear in the local market. I founded Cinnamon Shoes, creating individually designed, hand-crafted, high-quality flats and pumps.
‘We built a loyal client base, and soon they started asking about expanding the range. In keeping with our brand ethos, and in line with supporting local entrepreneurs, the first accessory we brought to market was a beautiful, forest green double-breasted Winter coat, made by two very talented tailors from Cape Town. This garment sold out within weeks. We decided to ask the same sister team to make a classic, single-breasted, navy blazer and another in a slightly more daring check. They were equally popular with our clients.’
Key collaborations are essential for Frances, who has recently worked with Lunar to create the perfect white shirt. ‘The aim has always been to offer distinct and stylish items that will take our clients through more than one season. As a result of this enlarged range of items, we changed the name of the business from Cinnamon Shoes to House of Cinnamon, a brand synonymous with high quality and enduring value, offering locally-made, limited edition items with classic appeal. Our clients will not often find someone wearing the same shoes, coat or blazer.
‘Many of our leathers are imported and different and we make only a few special items from each type. Often, we are requested to make a pair of bespoke shoes or a handbag, which gives us the opportunity to work very closely with our clients, to better know them, understand their wishes and to establish a long-standing relationship.’
Details: To become part of the extended family of clients who love House of Cinnamon, visit houseofcinnamon.com or visit their studio in Parktown via appointment.
Frances’ Spring essentials
- A pair of strappy sandals
- A beautiful pair of slides
- A crisp white linen or cotton dress
- A pair of stud or hooped earrings
- Our Iona ring
* Text: Tayla Blaire. Photographer: Nicole Moore. Details: 084-734-2253; nicolemoorephotography.co.za