The African continent is gradually becoming one of the biggest and leading fashion markets in the world, along with Europe and the Americas. For decades, throughout the vast majority of the 20th century, the fashion industry had been critically dominated by the Western brands and big names of which everyone had heard of. However, the reality is now changing as the fashion principles, beauty standards, and the cause of the sector change altogether.
Unlike the vast majority of the western world, the African continent and its fashion have not gone under globalization as much. Therefore, the fashion industry in the region remains highly impacted by the traditions and the culture of ancient civilizations. It is evident in everything from colors to shapes and the expression of clothing items. Those bright tones and expressive silhouettes are what attract so many people from all over the world. There now is unprecedented demand for African fashion and the global capitals of design are keeping up with the trend.
Since 2011, the United Kingdom has hosted the annual African fashion week in London. It is the largest and the most prominent Africa-focused fashion event held outside of the continent. Its main aim is to promote African culture, fashion, and design among the larger public and the global influencers that are often based in London. Besides the purely fashion-oriented goals, the fashion week has also managed to contribute to a range of activities and social awareness campaigns. Notably, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s black history month celebrations were heavily supported by the African Fashion Week in London.
The trend has found its place in a range of industries. Companies that work with international companies and operate in multiple nations have found success in bringing African fashion to certain audiences. Notably, the leading gambling operator Playamo, which is present in multiple nations, has decided to introduce African design elements on its websites. The effort has paid off and the users with African origin are extremely thankful for cultural sensitivity and the company’s effort to raise awareness regarding the topic.
Big companies are now interested in the African fashion industry as well. Therefore, what is left to make it a big thing globally? When will we see the name of Nairobi, Johannesburg, or Addis Ababa among the top fashion destinations in the world? Is there a long way to go? The answer is not very precise as fashion is a dynamically developing and changing sector. Fashion hotspots can emerge within a few years and become of global significance. The Georgian capital of Tbilisi is a fine example as it managed to transform into a truly global fashion destination. The city now hosts numerous fashion shows annually, attracting the attention of international media and the general public.
In the end, every important process of changing the region depends on individuals. Fashion designers that create clothing pieces and showcase them to the world are truly bringing the African culture closer to the rest of the world. It is because of such talented individuals that global icons, such as Michele Obama, have worn and openly discussed the African fashion trend. But who are up and coming African fashion designers? What are their influences and achievements?
South Africa’s Sindiso Khumalo
Art comes without any limitations and that is what makes this field so interesting to explore. The South African fashion designer Sindiso Khumalo has never wanted to be in this field. Instead, she aimed to become a famous architect, designing buildings and different structures all around the world. However, even after studying architecture for years, she has decided to pursue a career in fashion. Suddenly, Khumalo herself along with those around found that combining fashion with the vast architectural knowledge is simply amazing. Her skills and experience in designing buildings brought something special to the fashion world.
Khumalo’s clothing items are full of bright colors and modern silhouettes. Many compare her style to the architecture of the late Iraqi-born British designer Zaha Hadid’s architecture. It is extremely contemporary and is aimed at women who want to stand out from the crowd. The designer herself believes that she designs items for brave and successful women, who are able to overcome obstacles on a daily basis.
Her works have been showcased in some of the leading fashion magazines and festivals globally. She often visits Paris, London, and New York and has been featured in the Vogue editions of Italy and the United Kingdom.
Taibo Bacar from Mozambique
The high-end fashion has arrived in Africa. More luxury and exclusive brands are present in the African market than ever before. Mr. Taibo Bacar is now regarded as the creator of one of the finest fashion brands on the continent. Being a male designer from Mozambique, he had to overcome quite a few obstacles to pave his way towards the success and the top tier fashion industry.
He has shown his designs at African shows like the Johannesburg fashion week and the African International Fashion show. He is well known not only on the continent but also in Europe. He is one of the only few African designers that had an opportunity to display their work at the Milan fashion week, one of the most celebrated fashion events on the globe.
The Nigerian couture – Deola Sagoe
She is one of the finest and most celebrated fashion designers of not only Nigeria but the entire continent. Sagoe started her career in 1989 but just like it happens with many others in the industry, she earned her degree in another field. She studied finance and accounting at two leading universities, the University of Lagos and the University of Miami. Later on, she decided to pursue a career in fashion, becoming one of the highest-earning and famous designers of Africa. She runs her very own fashion house which sells clothing pieces all around the globe.