Saturday, 30 November 2013

Markets in Dakar: Sandaga and HLM

Madame Tay’s adventure into West African textiles began here, in Marché Sandaga – the biggest market in Senegal’s bustling capital city, Dakar. Fire ripped through the market’s main building in October, but that hasn’t stopped the commerçants from dealing their wares – the streets around the market were as busy as ever!

Marché Sandaga [Image credit:]

Lucky for me, I had a whole team behind me helping me negotiate the windy labyrinth of Sandaga. Our tailor Diogomaye, his Aunty and his cousin Arame had offered to come along to help buying the first round of fabric Diogo would turn into our samples. So we piled into a taxi and headed off to centre ville.

Tata, Arame and Diogo in Marche Sandaga
Wax Print from Cote D'Ivoire in Marche Sandaga

We spent the next few hours trawling through rows and rows of boutiques selling all sorts of things – from cans of tomato paste to radios to kitchen appliances and lots and lots of fabric. We met a lot of characters along the way like the fabric salesman Ibou, pictured below, who was very keen to pose with his finest wax prints.

Ibou and his waxes
Diogo handling the negotiating with Ibou

A few hours later and arms full of metres and metres of wax print, we bundled back into taxi and headed home for a cool glass of bissap.

The next day, I ventured out alone to the biggest textile market in all of Senegal – Marché HLM. This is the market you come to for its incredible range of buttons, zips, thread, sewing accessories and for the hundreds and hundreds of boutiques selling all types of fabric.

Marché HLM, Dakar

It was here I met Amadou Diallo who has been working at Marche HLM for 30 years, and who drove a mean bargain. As you can see from the photo below, Mr Diallo had a huge range of wax print, and we had a good long chat in broken French and Wolof about the market, how it has changed over the 30 years he had spent there and the type of wax print on offer. He drove a mean bargain, but was pretty charming so I ended up buying loads of fabric from him! Can you spot any Madame Tây fabrics in the shot below?

Mr Diallo, walls of wax.

My next stop was with Mrs Seck, pictured below. She was about the sassiest textile seller I’d ever met, and after her and I took some selfies at her request, her staff proceeded to sell me some great print (hint of what is to become below hanging over Mamadou’s shoulder!).

Mrs Seck telling me to stop being cheeky
Mamadou with some Madame Tay fabric!

I’ll be buying about 145 metres of print for Madame Tay’s upcoming collection and I can’t wait to share all the beautiful prints I found with you all!

Bonus Picture: Marche Sandaga in its heyday. The photo had no date, but from the looks of the Peugeots and the pristine condition of the building, I would guess this photo was taken in the early 1960s!
[Image credit:]


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