Everyone wants the chance to bring home unique souvenirs and keepsakes from their holidays spent travelling abroad. From pairs of leather shoes and natural skincare to craft gin and artisanal toffee, these proudly South African items are worth stocking up on—and not sold in stores outside the country.
1. Well-made leather shoes from Sapmok
The veldskoen, or vellies as they’re more endearingly known, is a staple in many South African wardrobes. From the traditional style to trendy, designer pairs, these well-made leather shoes will support feet while walking many miles. They’re durable, typical of South Africa, and suit pretty much any outfit. They’re a must-have when visiting the bush. Pick up a pair from Sapmok either online or at their brick and mortar store in Menlopark, Pretoria. The brand sells locally produced shoes for both men and women and in a few different styles and colours ranging from tan to yellow.
2. A trendy hat from Simon and Mary
A holiday in South Africa is synonymous with balmy weather and loads of sunshine, so it’s only appropriate to have a fashionable hat to complete any ensemble. Simon and Mary create hats using machinery bought in the 1960s and their range includes many different styles suitable to both men and women. Established in 1935 in South Africa, the brand is the leading wool felt hat manufacturer in the country and has a history in headwear stretching over 70 years.
3. A wooden Indalo bag
Inga Gubeka’s beautifully designed wooden decor and fashion items have become the envy of local and international celebrities. Founded in 2013, Indalo is based in Cape Town and produces a variety of products from backpacks, purses, clutches, phone accessories, and décor items. An Indalo clutch bag or backpack is the perfect accessory when out and about in South Africa and can be purchased via the online store.
4. Statement furniture from Pinda
Those after a statement furniture piece—that they can bring home with them—look no further than Pinda by Siyanda Mbele. Founded in 2012, the Durban-based interior design studio combines traditional African prints and patterns with modern designs. Think loads of wood and tribal carvings inspired by Ndebele, Zulu, and Venda culture.
5. Unique porcelain jewellery from Nina Bosch
Jewellery is the perfect trinket, gift, or reminder of a holiday destination. Those after something special Nina Bosch’s unique porcelain pieces will do the trick. Working from a studio in Witrivier, Mpumalanga, Bosch creates striking earrings, necklaces, and bracelets each different to the next. Inspired by nature, Bosch’s handmade jewellery takes on organic shapes with splashes of gold thrown in every once in a while.
6. Natural skincare products from Wass
Cape Town-based Wass produces a wide range of natural skincare products, each inspired to suit a specific season. From a detoxifying body balm perfect for spring to the hydrating mandarin lip balm ideal for crisp winter days, each small batch product is handmade, hand-poured, and hand labelled. What’s more, the products aren’t tested on animals and include no parabens, unnecessary chemicals, or toxins. Wass products are found at artisanal markets the country over and are also available for purchase via their online store.
7. That’s fine
Visiting a South African wine farm is a must, but why not pop into a boutique wine estate next time? Taste wines not readily available in supermarkets plus meet the makers while there. Situated in the Robertson Wine Valley, Esona, meaning ‘the very one’ in Xhosa, is a young winery with lots on offer. Their beautifully labelled bottles immediately attract interest, but what fills them even more so. The first Esona wine was released in 2010 and since then, the offering has expanded to include a tasting room and deli, perfect for spending lazy days sipping on delicious wines.
8. A laptop sleeve from Wren Design
Dress up tech items with a biodegradable laptop sleeve from Wren Design. Starting off by using found materials such as coffee sacks, founder Wendren Setzer quickly became aware of incorporating a sustainable approach to her design method. Today, many of the products are made using treated paper, and the most popular are those manufactured from PPC cement bags. There are over 40 items for sale including laptop sleeves, handbags, and shopping bags.
9. Sleepwear from Home Time
Home Time’s beautiful designs made using only the best quality cotton could easily result in days spent in bed. Kim Saunders and Nicky Franklin launched the local PJ and loungewear brand in 2013, and all manufacturing takes place in Durban. The small range includes comfy trousers, strappy tops, and matching sleepwear, all making the perfect gift (or a treat to keep). Home Time sells at markets across the country as well as online.
10. Toffee from Darling Sweet
Darling Sweet, most famous for its handcrafted toffee, has become a well-known brand for those with a sweet tooth. Their toffees are available in many flavours including bird’s eye chilli, red wine, and chocolate and sour fig. Their range has grown to include other products such as honey and toffee spread, and none has any added artificial colourants, flavourings, or preservatives. The Darling Sweet head office is situated in Lang Street, Darling on the Cape West Coast, and is worth a visit when in the area. Alternatively, their products are found at many craft and food markets as well as online.
11. Pienaar and Son craft gin
Pienaar and Son, a small craft distillery in Cape Town, is run by a father-and-son team who creates top-quality spirits with a local twist. Their Empire gin is made from South African maize and infused with flavours of citrus while the Orient gin boasts sweet vanilla and mandarin orange notes. Distillery tours and tastings are available by appointment, so plan ahead and make sure to stop by.