Monday 24th of June 2024

Nairobi, Kenya

Meet The 15 African Fashion Brands Represented At SS24 London Fashion Week

One of the biggest fashion events in the world continues to be New York Fashion Week.
The twice-yearly exposition (held in February and September) serves as a big platform for showcasing the top international and American designers as well as a hot conduit into the American market. African designers have occasionally surfaced during NYFW, showcasing their collections on the runway.

Nigerian Maki Oh made her debut in 2012, while in 2014, South African and Nigerian industry icons David Tlale and Deola Sagoe both made their debuts. However, the watershed event in the late aughts is to thank for these designer debuts.
A group of African fashion designers attacked New York City in 2009.

African businesses Stoned Cherrie (South Africa), Xuly Bet (Mali), Momo Couture (Nigeria), and Tiffany Amber (Nigeria) were welcomed in the Bryant Park tents as part of the African Fashion Collective for the first time in NYFW’s history.
The “Obama Effect” was referred to by the general public in the fashion industry after Barack Obama became America’s first Black president a month earlier.

Through their presentations, these designers refuted stereotypical perceptions of Africa and highlighted the ingenuity and craftsmanship the region had to offer. There will never be another NYFW.
Since then, African designers have made progress. Nigeria’s Head of State Tia Adeola had been on the February program for NYFW’s Fall 2023 season.

Both brands are returning this September, the latter in the lineup for the eighth outing of The Black in Fashion Council Discovery Showroom.

1. Abigail Ajobi
Abigail Ajobi, the self-named brand’s creative director and fashion designer, is of Nigerian heritage.
The brand is a high-end streetwear company that uses exclusive and scarce materials to make its exquisite products. Additionally, by offering convertible styles that may be worn in different ways, it supports sustainability.

several methods. Abigail Ajobi has been in business since 2020. She has presented her designs at London Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week events and she has been featured in a number of periodicals. The collection’s profits are given to charities of the brand’s choosing.

The distinct and fashionable forms of Nollywood Y2k fashion served as the inspiration for Abigail Ajobi’s SS24 collection Anti-Muse.

2. Sukeina
Omar Salam chose to create Sukeina in 2012 after spending two years working at Christain Lacroix and working for French fashion designer Madame Sonia Rykiel in Paris.
The Senegalese designer with roots in New York, who studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design, has created a sartorial extravaganza with his womenswear line.

His distinctive designs for the brand include sculptural gowns, elaborate weaving, and dramatic forms.
Tribal elements from the continent have also affected his collections. His Fall 2022 collection incorporated the vibrant patterns of Bantu clothing, which can be seen in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa.
2020 saw the launch of Sukeina, an origami dress, flapper-style mesh, and sheer looks collection.

3. Kílèntár
Klèntár is a Nigerian contemporary womenswear brand with a whimsical and feminine look that was founded by Michelle Adepoju in 2019.
Adepoju had at first begun by purchasing clothing to sell online.
She would purchase clothing items from her neighborhood thrift shop or charity shop, such as crop tops and blouses, and tastefully adorn them.

African sartorial features like cowries, indigo dyeing (adire), and hand weaving are also infused into the brand’s aesthetic. One of the newest labels in the NYFW lineup of African designers, Klèntár will exhibit alongside Korlekie, Onalaja, Fumi the Label, and Tia Adeola under the auspices of The Black in Fashion Council Discovery Showroom.

4. Dumebi
Barbara Biosah, a British-Nigerian fashion designer, founded the upscale womenswear line Dumebi, which specializes in handcrafted couture apparel, shoes, and accessories. Barbara’s designs are influenced by African and European Renaissance art with a British modern twist and a Parisian flair because of her British and Nigerian roots.
The brand wants to bring back custom-made clothing crafted with high-quality materials and creative ideas while cutting back on excessive mass production.

5. Korlekie
Beatrice Korlekie Newman, who graduated with a BA in fashion design from De Montfort University in Leicester, started Korlekie in 2013 from her Peckham, London, bedroom.
For the ladies in her local church, the British-Ghanaian designer created one-of-a-kind pieces in African textiles. Rita Ora, Anna Freil, Ellie Goulding, and Alesha Dixon are just a few of the A-listers who have worn the brand’s fashionable, upscale knitwear and crochet.
Further drawing inspiration from Ghanaian traditional craft, Korlekie combines luxurious materials with sensuality for the contemporary woman.

6. Feben
Feben’s collection is influenced by the nomadism of her personal identity as well as her Ethiopian ancestry, North Korean, and Swedish upbringing.
Vemmenby collaborated with Beyoncé to design and style costumes for the Brown Skin Girl music video after completing her MA in fashion at Central Saint Martins as an Isabella Blow scholar.
The visual codes of Black life from all over the world are explored via a surrealistic lens in Feben’s works.

7. Onalaja 
Onalaja is one of a number of contemporary Nigerian businesses that prioritize luxury and wearability in their design aesthetic. Kanyinsola Onalaja, a Nigerian-born fashion designer who founded her company in 2014, obtained her BA in Fashion Design from London’s Istituto Marangoni.

After that, she traveled to Rome to study 3D pattern cutting at the Academia di Costume E Moda. Onalaja creates expertly designed clothing for women with contrasting textures and patterns utilizing high-end materials. Particularly the coral red and the elaborate embroidery that represents the designer’s Bini origin, these patterns are masterpieces.

The bodycon dresses from this brand are also size-inclusive, fitting a variety of body types.
This is why the company’s Zusi dress, which celebrates the feminine body in all its variety, has been a success. Indiyah Polack, a former Love Island contestant, and Kandi are two celebs who have been seen sporting it.

8. Labrum London
Foday Dumbuya, the creative director and founder of Labrum, found inspiration while growing up and learning in London, Cyprus, and Sierra Leone.
A contemporary menswear company’s mission is to “tell the untold stories of West Africa to help bridge the gap between Western and West African culture.”
The distinctive features of British tailoring are combined with West African inspirations to create Labrum’s unique sense of style.
In honor of his Sierra Leonean heritage, his SS24 collection, NOMOLI ODYSSEY, was shown at the Four Seasons hotel in Trinity Square.
A number of Labrum’s creations featured depictions of the Nomoli figure, a native of Sierra Leone and a symbol of fertility and harvest.

9. Fumi the Label
Fumi the Label is a ready-to-wear womenswear line created by Toronto-based designer Fumi Egbon that emphasizes comfort, grace, and sophistication. The brand, which debuted in 2016, specializes in vibrant colors, breathable clothing, and the possibility of wardrobe-building styling.
One example is the Naomi dress, which may be combined with thigh-high boots, denim, or jeans. The brand will reach a new milestone when it exhibits at NYFW.

10. Tolu Coker
After graduating from Central Saint Martins, British-Nigerian Multi-Disciplinary Artist Tolu Coker created her own brand in 2018.
Her work, which is heavily influenced by identity politics and social environments, uses fashion as a platform to promote social change.
Her 2019 collection honored the lives of women who had survived being raped as a result of war atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The earnings from a portion of her collection were donated to the charity “Choose Love” in 2020, which assists minority populations, refugees, and immigrants both locally and internationally.

Irapada, the SS24 collection by Tolu Coker, is inspired by her Yoruba heritage.
Through the prism of her own family’s relationship to both religion and fashion, she used her works to explore how Yoruba spirituality is seen.

11. Victor Anate
Despite the fact that Nigerian designer Victor Anate won’t present his edgy womenswear line Vicnate at NYFW, he has contributed his talent as a co-collaborator by creating Naomi Campbell’s debut collection for Pretty Little Thing.
The renowned supermodel tapped Anate and Brooklyn-based Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, both of Jamaican descent, to create her line for the fast-fashion behemoth.
It launched as a runway show on September 5 to kick off NYFW, showcasing a 70-piece collection of outerwear, mesh dresses, sharp pantsuits, and more. Now that the project is finished, it joins Anate’s impressively expanding and exciting portfolio.

12. Tia Adeola
The Tia Adeola line was previously presented at NYFW. The brand’s launch, the Autumn/Winter 2020 collection, brought models down the catwalk wearing its recognizable sheer and ruffles. They were seductive, extremely provocative, and were modeled after Renaissance-era dress regulations.

Tia Adeola, a 2019 Parsons School of Design alumna who was born in New York and raised in London, has established herself as an intriguing new designer and amassed a cult following that includes Gigi Hadid, Flo Milli, SZA, and others.

13. Studio 189
OkayAfrica attended Studio 189’s debut spring runway show in 2019, which featured a number of notable guests like Quincy Brown, Fantasia, Justin Skye, Naturi Naughton, and Ayo Tometi (formerly Opal Tometi).
We also learned how the brand’s design principles combine cutting-edge tailoring with ancient West African crafts like indigo dyeing, hand-batik, and weaving.

The sustainable brand, which was established in 2013 by Abrima Erwiah and the actress Rosario Dawson, is propelled by an artisanal pulse and collaborates with regional artisans in a way that highlights their abilities and gives them employment opportunities. Studio 189 is more than simply a brand; it currently conducts business in Accra and the United States. Additionally, it is a social enterprise that finances numerous initiatives started by locals both in the U.S. and on the continent.

14. Head of State
Head of State wasn’t yet a fully developed brand in 2016 when Taofeek Abijako founded it.
His goal was to earn money to build a water infrastructure in his area while still a senior in secondary school in Nigeria.
Fast forward to 2017, when his brand’s spring/summer 2018 collection made him the youngest debutant at NYFW. He wasn’t even 20.

Taofeek, who is now based in Brooklyn, New York (his parents had won the lotto in 2010), utilizes the Head of State as a bridge to connect cultures in Nigeria and the United States.
The brand has focused on striking a balance between the two through their clothing.
Traditional Nigerian design features like silhouettes and embroidery are executed with a contemporary twist.

15. Oshobor
Oshobor was founded in 2020 and is the creation of Peter Oshobor. It combines slow fashion, traditional craft, and cultural tales.
The brand expanded into the 2022 Green Access program, Lagos Fashion Week’s platform for talent identification.
It further highlighted the brand’s zero-waste philosophy by showcasing a small number of exquisite outfits made from waste yarn and offcuts.

Oshobor will visit New York for their Carnaval Couture NYFW event thanks to a collaboration with Upscale Magazine and Art Meso, the art and fashion exhibition that highlights up-and-coming designers and creatives from all around the world.

Content courtesy of Culture Custodian, Okay Africa & NFH

Teyei’s Couture: A Unique Nigerian Fashion Label Founded By Faith Teyei Afan

Teyei’s Couture is a unique Nigerian fashion label founded by Faith Teyei Afan. It focuses on creating unique and high-quality fashion items. She founded Teyei’s Couture to help women express themselves through fashion but she’s also empowering and educating upcoming fashion designers at her Fashion Academy.

Faith Teyei agreed to talk to our NFH Contributing writer Linda Wairegi to share more details about her inspiring fashion design journey and what other African designers can learn from her journey. 


LW: Can you tell me about yourself? 

FT: I am a Nigerian fashion designer, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Founder of Teyei’s Couture born and raised in Jos, Nigeria.

I completed my secondary education at the Girls’ High School Gindiri, Plateau State, where my interest in designing was first conceived. After secondary education, my drive for fashion increased, and I learnt how to sew for two years. 

My drive for designs grew astronomically higher when I started designing and sewing for myself, my siblings, and my close friends. In early 2016, I moved from sewing in my bedroom to an empty room in my family house, where I started my entrepreneurial adventure with two sewing machines. In the same month, about four ladies showed interest in wanting to learn under me, but only two eventually got enrolled. 

With the increase in demand for designs, ladies’ interest in wanting to learn, my passion to create high-quality African clothes, put my home city of Jos on the world fashion map, and to use fashion as a tool to change the world for a better tomorrow, I launched my label Teyei’s Couture. 


LW: When did you know that fashion was your passion in life?

FT: I got to understand that fashion is my passion when I discovered that even if I was tired, I’d still want to draw, design, and think of creative ideas. It became a big part of my life. Anytime I succeed with a design, I feel so happy and satisfied. 


LW: Who inspired you to start your fashion journey? 

FT: My inspiration comes from several people, but most especially my husband. He has been my strongest strength and supporter, pushing me right from the onset. He is not into fashion, but he opened my eyes a lot. 


LW: How long has Teyei’s Couture been open? 

FT: Teyei’s Couture will be 6 years this year. 


LW: Where is your fashion business Teyei’s Couture located? 

FT: Jos, Plateau State, and Abuja, both in Nigeria 


LW: What’s the mantra for Teyei’s Couture? 

FT: Believe in yourself, for there’s always this one multibillion-naira idea in you. 

LW: What’s your ideal customer? 

FT: I have fallen in love with creating designs for women who want to feel confident in who they are women who love to reinvent themselves, and women who love innovation. This set of people is my ideal customer.


LW: What’s your favourite fashion piece or pieces from Teyei’s Couture? 

FT: My favourite piece has always been the free gowns. I love comfort so everything I find myself comfortable in is always my best. That aside, I also love skirts and blouses made from Ankara or any native African print fabric. They make me appreciate the African woman in me. 


LW: Why do you love them so much? 

FT: I love them so much, especially the Ankara prints, because they make me come alive, feel fulfilled, and be proud of my African self. 


LW: What sets you apart from other African labels? 

FT: What set us apart from other fashion labels is that we are not just a brand aimed at producing unique and quality garments. We also run an academy that trains young African women in fashion and entrepreneurship, empowering them with the right skill sets, mentorship to build their confidence, networking opportunities, and access to African fashion-related information.

Our dedication to our students and clients is driven by our promise to deliver Excellence, Value, and Quality. We aim to be at the forefront of exploring the innovative path that combines fashion, education, and technology. 

LW: Have you encountered difficult moments in your fashion journey? 

FT: One of the most difficult parts of my journey has always been insufficient funds for the company. I struggle with the little at hand to see that I give my students a comfortable place to learn and provide an appealing place for my customers. 

We’re also challenged by an inadequate workforce, which is a result of a lack of resources. This has been a major setback as it has made us several times unable to take disadvantaged ladies on scholarship. 

In a nutshell, lack of funds has been a major challenge to me in the journey, and that has made us keep our doors open to anyone ready to bring more value to us. 


LW: What’s the best moment that made you feel alive as a fashion designer?

FT: There’s no greater joy compared to the immense joy and big smile from my customers.  

This is because I put myself wholeheartedly into each of my designs. Therefore, anytime I get complimentary reviews and comments, it makes me alive to know that at least my work is paying off. This always encourages and pushes me to do more. 


LW: I noticed that you also offer training to fashion students… So, can you tell us more about imparting and empowering the next fashion designers? 

FT: Teaching has always been my dream. It’s something I enjoy doing. As an entrepreneur empowering the next generation of fashion designers, therefore, I try as much as I can to provide special scholarships for young girls and disadvantaged women who are very passionate about learning fashion. Occasionally, I employ the best students to work with me for some time so that they get to learn the administrative aspect to aid them to have a better approach when they start their own business of fashion. 

LW: How do you balance the creative & the business side in fashion? 

FT: I’ve always seen these two as having a meeting point at the end of each of my thoughts because my creativity has a way of intertwining itself with business. 

One thing I usually say to my team is, “there’s always this one multibillion idea in you.” I always say to my team that as a brand and in our tradition, to apply creative thinking to business decisions and business shrewdness to our creative processes. 


LW: What’s one thing that you wish you knew before you started on your fashion journey? 

FT: I wished I knew that I could learn fashion with the little I had by simply watching videos on YouTube before learning the basics of sewing and pattern making. 


LW: What’s your dream collaboration? 

FT: My number one dream collaboration is to work with Hollywood to design costumes that portray an African woman in her native attire. 


LW: Recently, you launched a fashion webinar, what’s the inspiration behind this?

FT: Teyei’s Couture became the first fashion brand/academy in the whole of Northern Nigeria to organize a fashion webinar. It took place on December 11th, 2021. The webinar themed “Fashion as a Way of Communication” explored fashion as an important aspect of culture, forming part of the non-verbal aspect of communication and shaping relations in society. 

This was inspired by my desire to educate the public, especially my immediate community, about fashion and other fashion-related issues. I want to create a groundbreaking mindset that triggers ladies into embracing fashion as a tool to plunge them into their entrepreneurial journey and create awareness around it. We plan to make the webinar a series. 


LW: What’s your vision behind this? 

FT: My vision is to bring together speakers (women) from different walks of life to discuss fashion-related topics and trigger a change in mindset. 

LW: What’s your personal style like? 

FT: My personal style can be described as simple but classic. I love wearing easy clothes to be able to move around comfortably. I also love clothes that don’t go out of time easily. 


LW: Do you have an inspiring quote for other designers?

FT: When you have a dream do not let it die. Keep watering it and nurturing it until it grows, and the results will be amazing. Never let your passion go away because of life challenges. Keep the light burning, having it at the back of your mind that one day it will all pay off.


LW: We’d love to connect with Teyei’s Couture online. Can you share the links with us?

Website: https://www.teyeiscouture.com 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teyeiscouture 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeyeisCouture 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeyeisCouture 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teyeiscouture 

Tumblr: https://teyeiscouture.tumblr.com 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/teyeiscouture 


Zimbabwe’s Ishmael Tsakatsa Unveils Zargue’sia’s Stones Of Fire SS22 Collection During Paris Fashion Week

While fashion weeks are about the official shows on the calendar with onlookers being enamored by big brands, it’s also an opportunity for emerging brands to get their name and brand in front of buyers, media, and the masses.
There is a move-in fashion to bring more African talent to the forefront, like the IFFAC Investment Holdings Company, an investment fund aimed at supporting Africa’s creative and lifestyle industries. One such emerging brand that has sparked waves in his native Zimbabwe is Ishmael Tsakatsa, founder of Zargue’sia. His Paris Fashion Week show fell in line with the trends that are already being seen for the spring-summer 2022 season.

We’re seeing a lot of rich color from brands and Zargue’sia’s unveiling revealed a lot of rich colors and use of light textiles. Earth tone browns and oranges are part of the color palette, as well as orangey pinks, cremes, and baroque-inspired prints. Themed “Stones of Fire,” it took Tsakatsa over 11 months to create from the first sketch to fabric selection, pattern making, and last stitch.

“It was inspired by the innate human ability to pursue purpose with courage and determination regardless of the challenges and obstacles faced. Taking a literal example of a volcano, the hot molten lava is able to destroy anything standing as an obstacle in its way as it flows like a trailblazer,” he shares.

This is his first Paris Fashion Week and creating the collection had its challenges. “The preparations were very demanding but worth every single sweat. There were high expectations to be met with regards to how best l can represent Zimbabwe and Africa at large on my debut at Paris Fashion Week.”

Using and matching contrasting fabrics, another SS22 trend, Tsakatsa includes printed silk satin, beaded tulle, stretch duchess satin, soft linen, crepe, cationic chiffon, brocades, and polymetallic satin and organza.

A collection of seven looks, one look, with a pussy bow neckline chiffon blouse with ruffles on the sleeves is paired with an empire waistline fitted brocade pencil skirt with piping detail. And Tsakatsa created a voluminous gown, a strapless tiered ball gown with a beaded tasseled shoulder neckpiece.

Not originally trained in fashion design, Tsakatsa studied physiotherapy. “I was inspired by the love of a royal aesthetic with elegant drama and opulence,” he muses. “It started as a hobby way back then in my school days until I noticed that with my creative ability l had something fresh to offer to the world. I then launched my brand and since then I have never looked back.” Presenting at Zimbabwe Fashion Week in 2012 in a young designer’s competition he decided to launch Zargue’sia in 2013, where he was nominated for the Emerging Designer of the year award.

The following year he won the Zimbabwean Designer of the Year award. Zimbabwe isn’t known for fashion but for Tsakatsa he offers, “acquisition of entrepreneurial skills and knowledge in the fashion business and trade for economic development, growth, and sustainability,” to his country’s fashion industry. And for him, his collections are inspired by the Word of God from the Bible and the essence that lies behind the magnificence and radiance of God’s beauty.

It’s a collection of color, inspired by nature, God’s beauty, that’s in sync with the trends fashion is seeing on the major runways for the SS22 season. Tsakatsa will be hosting a re-see later this month in Paris.

Content courtesy of Forbes Magazine 


Introducing The Fashion Hub, A Collaborative Effort Promoting Emerging Design Talents During Milan Fashion Week

In celebration of sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity, the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana partners with the DHL Young Designer Award and the Camera Buyer Italia.

Milan Fashion Week is not exclusively reserved for large houses or established brands, thanks to the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI). During Milan, Fashion Week Women’s Collection Spring/Summer 2022, from Sept. 21-27, 2021, CNMI celebrates and promotes young design talents from around the world at the Fashion Hub. A venue dedicated solely to the most interesting international designers, the Fashion Hub provides high visibility to emerging talents who embody CNMI’s values, like sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity.

An exciting night for new talents, the Fashion Hub’s opening on Sept. 21 brought individuals together to celebrate the recipients of a few coveted design awards the DHL Young Designer Award and the Camera Buyer Italia prize for Fashion Hub young designers presented by Italian actress Fiammetta Cicogna.

The DHL Young Designer Award was given to Gilberto Calzolari, whose collection is on display at the Fashion Hub, and Des Phemmes and Marco Rambaldi, brands included in the official CNMI calendar. DHL promises to support winning designers’ international expansion processes. Young designers working on the “Fashion Bridges – I Ponti Della Moda” project, Michael Peter Reid and Domenico Orefice with a special mention to Alessia Dovero e Sipho Mbuto won the Camera Buyer Italia prize.

The winners’ project, “Fashion Bridges  I Ponti Della Moda,” is an impressive, collaborative affair bringing talent together on an international, multicultural scale. CNMI worked with a variety of partners to make the collaboration possible the Italian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, the Italian fashion school Polimoda, the South African Fashion Week, the ICE Agenzia (Italian Foreign Trade Agency), the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, and the Nelson Mandela Forum Firenze.

The initiative paired four former Polimoda students with four emerging designers from the South African Fashion Week. The Milan presentation is the beginning of an ongoing collaboration that continues at the South African Fashion Week in Johannesburg at the end of October.

Other exciting initiatives exhibited at the Fashion Hub include the CNMI’s collaboration with the Hungarian Fashion and Design Agency on “Budapest Select;” the CNMI sustainability program’s “Designers for the Planet” promoting three emerging, eco-conscious brands (Tiziano Guardini, Gilberto Calzolari, and Re-generations); a joint-effort Instagram competition and project by DHL and the Camera60Studio to promote Italian craft businesses’ commitment to sustainability; a collaborative endeavor between CNMI and the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion Collective entitled “Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion,” featuring five new BIPOC designers.

A true collaborative venture, the Fashion Hub celebrates the best and brightest new talents within Milan and far beyond.


Textile and Fashion Value Chains: Opportunities For The Private Sector in Kenya in 2021

The Textile and Fashion Value Chains Conversation looking at Opportunities in Kenya’s Private Sector happened on 25th March 2021 online. The African Development Bank, iMC Worldwide and Fashionomics Africa supported it.


Emmanuela Gregorio from African Development Bank opened the session and Jacqueline Shaw from Africa Fashion Guide moderated the event. The panellists included Oscar Alochi (Nairobi Fashion Hub), Jason Musyoka (Viktoria Ventures), Chebet Mutai (Waziwazi), Olivia Awuour (Pine Kazi) and Akinyi Odongo.


Emmanuela Gregorio: This event seeks to understand how businesses have positioned themselves in the fashion market. Consumer trends and country reports with detailed information that can be used by investors.  

Plus, looking at the environmental and social impact,e.g. It takes 2.7 litres of water to manufacture a cotton t-shirt. Lastly, Kenyan is a growing fashion sector in Africa, and the garment industry is a promising investment.


Oscar Alochi: The 1960s – 1980s was very successful at marketing clothes for local use & export. It was impacted negatively by the entrance of second-hand clothes. The Kenyan textile and fashion market has been negatively affected by high production costs, including raw materials and marketing issues.


What’s the best way to bring back the Kenyan fashion textile industry?

Chebet Mutai: The private sector needs to work hand in hand with the government through fashion policies. The local consumption and creation by Kenyans are creating a grassroots momentum. That’s pushing the Buy Kenya, Build Kenya ecosystem. Take advantage of AGOA and focus on preferential trade agreements to access international/American markets.


How can we improve locally made fashion?

Chebet Mutai: Have a good brand story because consumers are becoming highly conscious. A strong brand story needs to weave into the marketing strategy. Adopt new technology, push the made in Africa brand and think about how to penetrate new markets.

Jacqueline Shaw: Many eyes are on the African continent, so Africans need to grab this opportunity by telling their own stories. You don’t want Kenya to be known only as an artisan-driven fashion place, yet there’s also knitting, basket weaving, leather shoes, like a strong leather industry. 

Kenyan can be known for high-class quality and luxury items. So people can buy from us and not just admire us.


How did you start Waziwazi, a luxury leather business? Can Kenya be a leading luxury leather import on the content? 

Chebet Mutai: You need to have the design conversation, who do I want to sell this product to… its quality lifts the product from this jurisdiction to the next. A commitment to a design-driven process centred on what the customer wants.


What is being done to improve the textile industry in Kenya?

Chebet Mutai: A lot is being done to improve the fashion textile industry. Some people already use local cotton and breed silkworm. The fashion line is more on an international level but, there’s an opportunity in other things like bedsheets. KEBS care about standardization. 


Olivia Awuour: Green Nettle has sustainable textiles made from stinging nettle and they have won a fashion award. 


Akinyi Odongo:  We need to engage with farmers to grow organic content and upcycling mitumba pieces into fashion designs. It includes training students to look into sustainable fashion because that’s where the future is. We need to impart skills that will outlive us. 


Are there Copyright Issues in the Textile and Fashion Value Chains?

Chebet Mutai: A particular designer copied one of my designs. So as designers, you need to have legal ownership of fashion products, copyright and trademark. Don’t walk away from people that infringe on your rights. You can go to KIPI for more information.


What are the finances like in the Textile and Fashion Scene?

Jason Musyoka: The more we understand the value chain, the more we can see opportunities. Blended finance can fund the creative sector.


Chebet Mutai: People are wary of sending money from abroad. Paypal is good for abroad buyers. The best way to do it is to integrate it on the site. It’s not fair that it’s easy to purchase products abroad. Yet, it’s hard for others to buy products from Kenyan designers.


What skills do you need to export fashion products?

Chebet Mutai: Making sure that the product you have is what the market wants. It needs good value and, that’s why the brand story really matters. There needs to be more guidance because you take time trying to figure things out.


What are the opportunities in the retail sector, the local market? The domestic consumer market in Kenya? Do you have an idea? 

Oscar Alochi: It isn’t easy knowing estimating Kenyans using local luxury brands, but the numbers are still rising. 


Chebet Mutai: You can access duty-free items if you can prove that your textile can’t be sourced locally as a fashion designer. Designers need to walk into spaces and take part in conversations and keep pushing for opportunities. Understand terms of trade that apply to countries and utilise KEPROBA.


Hilda Ogada: KEBROBA is a product development initiative. It handholds SMEs to make sure that their products meet the international guidelines. So, any exporter can easily access information about any documentation that they need.


Anne Wamae: We’re waiting for guidance to implement fashion policies.


Ann McCreath: There’s huge potential in the Kenyan fashion industry around alternative fashion textiles. Quality textiles with high-quality designs and correct branding plus transparency and storytelling.  The price goes up and, everyone benefits in the value chain. 


New designers should start small and think through designs and experiment since it’s a difficult time. It’s always a rollercoaster. Always be ready to adapt, apply for all training opportunities and learn from as many people as possible.


Closing Remarks about the Textile and Fashion Value Chain in Kenya

Emmanuela Gregorio: Kenya has an ecosystem that the government is working with so things can thrive. It’s important to have high-quality garments, look and feel, understand the market, pricing and market intelligence. Fashionomics wants to put its masterclasses online, better online payment systems, the importance of producing fashion sustainably.


25 Black Models Who Shaped Fashion and Modeling History

From Pat Cleveland to Precious Lee, L’OFFICIEL looks back at the trailblazing Black models who have made an impact on fashion.

From the rise of fashion media from the mid-20th century to the present, the industry has continually been a place to grow in terms of inclusivity. For many years, modeling agencies, designers, and editors tended to look for one body type and skin color, but over the years, there have been a number of major Black figures who have shifted the industry’s status quo.

While now world-renowned supermodels, Naomi Campbell and Iman broke barriers and catwalked their way to diversifying the industry, paving the (run)way for a younger generation of models like Joan Smalls and Winnie Harlow to thrive today. Meanwhile, Beverly Johnson and Tyra Banks made history as the first Black models to grace the covers of major magazines, and haute couture model Mounia became Yves Saint Laurent’s first Black muse.

This Black History Month, L’OFFICIEL pays homage to 25 Black models who helped shape (and slay) the fashion industry as we know it today.

Africa’s Multi Billion Dollar Fashion Industry ( $15 Billion ) Business Empire 

The African fashion industry has been evolving significantly over the last years. Many African designers have been seen participating on the international stage showcasing their creativity and designs and being applauded by fashion lovers worldwide.

Their representations in magazines and fashion events have put the spotlight on the growing fashion scene of the African continent.

Not only the unique fabrics and designs, but also the African culture, heritage and beauty have left a long-lasting impression on the international fashion stage. The number of models of African origin being casted by the big fashion brands has risen significantly and they are frequently featured in leading fashion magazines and campaigns.

Africa’s creative industry overall has started gaining notice both regionally and internationally. Several local fashion brands have earned global recognition due to the talent and artistry of their designers. One remarkable award-winning designer is Folake Folarin- Coker.

Her brand Tiffany Amber has particularly become popular during the New York Fashion Week. In the meantime, her collection has been displayed in London, New York and Paris. Another upcoming artist, Deola Sagoe has dressed international artists like Rihanna and Solange Knowles.

The African footwear industry is still in the nascent stage. The continent is abundant in raw materials, skill and labour which are imperative for the growth of any industry. Several countries on the continent are contributing to the African footwear revolution, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.

The Journey of a Made in Kenya Shoe Brand Enda Sportswear.

Ethiopia for instance, is ranked in the top ten of leather exporting countries worldwide and has been able to generate considerable income from shoe exports in 2018.

The global fashion industry is estimated to be worth around $1.5 trillion, there are however no official estimates about Africa’s fashion industry. This is due to the fact that it has historically not been seen as a lucrative sector. There is however a growing realization of its untapped potential in terms of job creation and economic development.

As of today, only selected African universities offer reputable master degrees in fashion and design. As the perception of the fashion industry is however shifting within the continent itself, more and more fashion courses are being offered in order to support the local talents.

At present, Africa has a population of 1.2 billion people. The future estimates of the growth of the population is 2 billion by 2050 and 4 billion by 2100. This gives a huge opportunity in the form of a large market size for investors to leverage on. Fashion brands with the right marketing strategy have good chances to flourish.

Another important demographic feature about Africa is that there are about 200 million people between 15 and 24 years old, which makes Africa the youngest continent in the world.

With technological development showing its vibrance in Africa, the youth are increasingly using Facebook, Instagram and other kinds of social media to keep their followers updated with the latest trends and launches in the line of fashion. This has not only given local brands more visibility internationally, it has also increased their business rapidly.

In addition, the rapid increase in African middle-class households has increased the market for luxury goods as there is demand for better quality products due to growing disposable income. The African markets are moving from basic commodities to modern lifestyle economies.

This change in African buying habits has caused a boost to the sales of the fashion brand segment, and provides vast opportunities for investors, fashion houses as well as fashion and beauty professionals looking to expand internationally.

This article originally appeared on African Cube 

Photo courtesy of Coco lili Africa , Ankara Miani Inc , Enda Sportswear , Just Imagine Africa