The people behind Fashpack: Freetown (Ep 1)

The best thing about filming Fashpack was the opportunity to hang with the some of Freetown’s brightest and most entertaining locals and in the upcoming blog posts I’m going to delve deeper into the super stars behind each episode.

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Shooting Ep 1 – welcome to the Junks at Kroo Bay

So where did these charismatic characters come from? In Freetown it’s stupidly easy to meet people. If you leave the house and don’t come back with at least 10 new friends, I really have to question your social skills. My phone was jammed with hundreds of names (most of them either Ibrahim or Mohammed), I pretty much had pals on every corner, and half of them had that trademark freestylin flair for fashion that we love. So when it came to weeding out our talent the biggest challenge was deciding who we had to leave out. The majority of stars I’d met previously through the blog, some were old friends and a few we gathered during the shoot. As you see in the show, these people are made for TV, they shine in front of the camera and were all willing to share their story.

In Ep 1 – Welcome to the Junks,  I meet up with two of Freetown’s most discerning shoppers, I.B Love and Mariama who show me around Freetown’s endless second hand clothes market and invite me into their homes to talk style.

I.B Love

I.B Love first came into my life way back in my early days in Freetown, he was part of a running team I supported – the Freetown Fashpack Runners, and was a regular visitor to my home on Sundays. It wasn’t long before I realised his talents extended beyond the 100m dash, he soon charmed our production crew and it became clear that Fashpack: Freetown could not be a fully realised masterpiece without showcasing I.B Love.

I.B is a peacock. He loves to parade his latest look around his hood, he has an eye for style and the confidence to match. He works as a graphic designer downtown but is also focussed on his running career and developing his profile as a ‘fashion man’. His home is what you see in the show, a crowded cupboard with a mattress on the floor that holds a small collection of clothes and some precious keep sakes.

IMG_7016   I can’t get enough of I.B’s trademark inverted comma salute.

IMG_7075 Our director Benn was also hooked

In the show I.B proclaims, “My dreams are so big, they could fill a whole house”. My own selfish dreams for I.B (I.B it’s all about me not you) involve landing him a contract with an ‘easy wear’ label like Tommy Hilfiger or Yeezy or even just Lowes menswear as their international brand ambassador. Not too much to ask right? If anyone out there can make that happen please DM me.

Mariama

Single mum, bar woman, head of her household and all-round baller, Mariama is one of the first people I photographed on the blog. I noticed her at my local watering hole – the Plum Store, strutting about the bar in a killer outfit, cutting side-eyes at whoever was watching and taking no sh*t from the standard crowd of inebriated middle aged men. She is my kind of girl.

IMG_6926Check it! Matchy-matchy gets the Mariama treatment

But the truly magical thing about Mariama is that she is rarely seen in the same outfit twice. She customises, reinvents and changes things up with different accessories and a revolving door of weaves she gets done every second Saturday.

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Mariama accessorises her ass off

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At home with her family, Mariama is the boss of her house. And OHHHHH that weave!

Her look is eclectic and original. The jumpsuit with an embedded find-a-word puzzle and matching shoes, sunglasses and bag genuinely left me speechless, as did that reverse mullet dress. This girl has style, she has imagination and she has attitude.

Watch Episode 1 here.

Fashpack: Freetown is a six part short form series that delves into the colourful world of Freetown’s most stylish people. For those in Australia you can watch it on ABC Iview, for everyone else, I’m afraid you just have to be patient. It will be coming your way in about six months.

The unstoppable Freetown Fashpack Runners take on Liberia

The Freetown Fashpack Runners were a class act at the Liberian Marathon on Sunday, dominating the international field of athletes and once again proving they are a sporting force to be reckoned with.

The dream team included nine of the country’s best long distance runners and one mighty wheelchair athlete. Their banged up minibus will be hauling a total of six medals over the border and back to Freetown tonight plus more prize money they could ever have imagined. The team have done themselves, their country and Fashpack proud. Fashpack Runners, you are a brave team of champions and let’s hope this is the first of many more international opportunities. Now for the details.

IMG_3431Marathon athletes Idrissa Kargbo, Mamie Lahun, Osman Challey and Aminata Kargbo gathered at the start point at 4.30am ready to blow the competition out of the water. The gang of pint sized rockets all looked slick in their new-season Fashpack shirts printed by our kind sponsors Protec while ‘Super’ Challey’s tight-fit nylon swimming cap psyched out even his most ferocious competitors.

IMG_3466On the other side of town awesome foursome Mohammed Bah Kamara, Agnes Manseray, Joseph Kamara and Mabel Kallon were braving the rain with functional plastic bag head wear all ready to fly the green, white and blue flag.

IMG_3490Wheelchair dynamite George ‘the machine’ Windham was ready for his first international event. Despite being involved in para athletics for the past 14 years he has never had the opportunity to leave his country and see what the rest of the world has to offer. George came in fourth against the fierce field of Liberians.

There was no doubt that marathon victory belonged to charming Kenyan Nathan Naibei, but a big win was also scored by Idrissa Kargbo who came in second. He not only ran his best time breaking a new marathon record for Sierra Leone, but he also made a firm friend in Nathan who invited him to Kenya to train in a high altitude training camp. “We can make this boy a champion, after a few months in Kenya, he will beat the Kenyans I promise”, said Nathan.

Nathan is one of Kenya’s elite marathon athletes normally running 20 minutes faster than the time he ran in Monrovia. But in a show of first class sportsmanship he chose to pace Idrissa, stopping along the way to offer him water and words of encouragement. Nathan we name you best and fairest Kenyan, man of the match and grant you honorary Fashpack membership. Idrissa will be at your camp as soon as we can find the coin to send him.

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It was a great day for the Fashpack ladies whose performances were bigger than Beyonce at the Superbowl bringing home a tonne of medals and prize money. Mamie Lahun was the first woman across the line setting a new personal best. New Fashpack member Agnes Manseray left her competitors way behind in the 10km women’s race and beat all but three men. Second place getter Mabel Kallon came in a stunning second and Aminata Kargbo ran a very respectable fourth in the women’s marathon.

With so many medal winners, the Freetown Fashpack Runners were once again clear victors on Sunday putting the country’s vibrant pool of long distance running talent firmly on the athletics radar. A big thank you must go to the Liberian Athletics Association for feeding and housing the runners as well as Protec for their donation and the Sierra Leone Athletics Association.

However as we like to say in Salone, the journey to the start line was ‘CHALLENGING’. A grueling 24-hour overland road trip from Freetown to Monrovia on one of the worst roads in west Africa meant the athletes arrived exhausted. With minimal government support and corporate sponsorship, the trip was made on the mega-cheap and not in the style that champions should be shown. I bet Usain Bolt doesn’t have to travel in a cranked-out shell of hurtling metal on death defying roads to get to his race meets, and neither should the Freetown Fashpack Runners.

So people out there with money, a trust fund, corporate connections, generosity, a royal title or just the inclination, contact me for more information on how you can jump on the Fashpack train and create more champions from Sierra Leone.