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Thursday 29th of September 2022

Nairobi, Kenya

African Fashion Model: African Supermodels Iman, Adut Akech, Anok Yai, and Alek Wek Have Been Selected for W Magazine’s 50th Anniversary Issue

Top models have officially taken over W Magazine’s 50th Anniversary Issue. In honor of the occasion, the magazine unveiled 17 captivating stars ranging from the world’s most famous names to women on the verge of total fashion dominance. Among them are four of Africa’s top models: Iman, Adut Akech, Anok Yai, and Alek Wek.

Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta, Iman, Kendall Jenner, Precious Lee, Cindy Crawford, Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Christy Turlington Burns, Shalom Harlow, He Cong, Loli Bahia, Sora Choi, and Binx Walton are also on the list.

The covers were photographed by a team of photographers. Models wore a variety of stunning looks for the issue and discussed the industry’s past, present, and future.

Naomi Campbell Gives Back

First and foremost, I enjoy what I do. To have a career that actually lasts, you must. Although I don’t have a specific professional plan, I now enjoy using my platform to support up-and-coming designers.

The children I work with are not only in the well-known markets, but also in places like Africa, the Middle East, and India. Because of my reputation and my in-depth familiarity with the fashion industry, I am able to bring these children the recognition they merit. I’ve been given so much by the fashion industry, and I believe in spreading that.

Iman recalls her favorite runway moments

The trajectory of my fashion moment would not exist if it weren’t for Thierry Mugler. Many of the designers at the time were very cautious about how they wanted to present me. Yves Saint Laurent is another favorite of mine. Thierry Mugler, on the other hand, was like an MGM director. His performances were cinematic. He let me play whatever character I wanted on stage. In a world full of trends, I was always the girl who looked classic. But Mugler flipped the script and let me be a wild, African glamour girl, and editors and other designers recognized me as such.

When I first arrived in the United States, there was a widespread belief that there could only be one Black model at a time, which fostered hostility and competition among us.
But my friends and I were able to change that. I never called myself a Black woman in Somalia, where I grew up, because there was no reason to.

The entire country is dark. My identity was based on my worth. On purpose, I began making friends with Black models.
They were going to tell me who was the best photographer for us, the best hairdresser for our hair, and the best makeup artist for our skin. So we formed a tribe, and we are still that tribe.

Adut Akech discusses what drew her to modeling.

I wanted to be a model because I was always inspired by models like Naomi Campbell. One thing that surprised me was how difficult this job is. I never expected it to be easy, but you never know until you try it.

Being the second Black woman to ever end a Chanel haute couture show as the bride in 2018 was one of many remarkable milestones in my career.
Karl Lagerfeld personally selected me.
Models now have a voice thanks to social media. We can criticize brands for lacking sufficient diversity.
Everyone is being compelled to abandon their outdated practices and adopt the proper behavior, which is to include models from various backgrounds.

Anok Yai on the recent changes in the modeling industry

I was unaware that I was the first Black model to launch a Prada show since Naomi Campbell until I did so. Even after everyone congratulated me as I stepped off the runway, I was still unaware. My agency didn’t call me till after that. That was a strange encounter, and it ranks among my most significant professional experiences.

Models have had more creative freedom since the Covid pandemic. I’ve had the opportunity to creative-direct a few shoots, and I’ve realized that at this point in my career, I can be more than just a model I can be an artist. A runway show is, at its core, a collaborative effort.
As a model, you may at times feel like nothing more than a hanger. But it feels like a performance when I’m on the runway. I’ve reached a point where if you don’t give me artistic freedom, I’ll just take it.

Alek Wek discusses how her modeling approach has evolved as she has gotten older.

Everyone has a story to tell, but I believe that mine is particularly insightful into the power of perseverance. I began when I was a little child, having fled a terrible conflict in South Sudan. Alek Wek now represents diversity when you look at him. Alek Wek is accompanied by the sound of doors opening.
I never imagined I would be employed at this age, and I am grateful to my mother every day for that. It is genetics. Similar to Benjamin Button, I am. Teenagers and young adults try to talk to me!

Now I make my own decisions. I don’t have to be in a place where people treat me badly. For the first time, I’m honoring not only my work, but also myself as a human being and a woman.

Credits

Naomi Campbell
Editor-in-Chief: @saramoonves
Photography: @MertAlas & @marcuspiggot
Styling: @mr_carlos_nazario
Hair: @rio_hair
Makeup: @anglomamakeup for Pat McGrath Labs
Manicure: @robbietomkins
Writer: @jennycomita
Casting: @emperor.lee
Production: @januaryproductions

Iman
Editor-in-Chief: @saramoonves
Photography: @inezandvinoodh
Styling: @kegrand
Hair: @hoshounkpatin
Makeup: @kilprity
Manicure: #BojirHasanov
Casting: @emperor.lee

Adut
Editor-in-Chief: @saramoonves
Photography: @rafaelpavarotti_
Styling: @ibkamara
Hair: @EugeneSouleiman
Braiding: @hairbybarbietm
Makeup: @ChiaoLiHsu
Manicure: @EriHandaNail
Writer: @JennyComita
Casting: @emperor.lee
Set Design: @mhs_artists
Studio: @hookstudiobk
Props: @hookprops

Anok
Editor-in-Chief: @saramoonves
Photography: @rafaelpavarotti_
Styling: @ibkamara
Hair: @EugeneSouleiman
Makeup: @ChiaoLiHsu
Manicure: @EriHandaNail
Casting: @emperor.lee
Set Design: @mhs_artists
Studio: @hookstudiobk
Props: @hookprops
Production: @prodn_artandcommerce

Alek
Editor-in-Chief: @saramoonves
Photography: @quillemons
Styling: @Rebeccarams
Hair: @Joeygeorge
Makeup: @MarceloGutierrez
Manicure: @JinSoonChoi
Casting: @emperor.lee

Content courtesy of W Magazine & NFH

African Models: Nigeria Moves To Prohibit The Use Of Foreign Models In Commercials

The ban intends to promote Nigerian advertising and highlight its skills.
Nigeria prohibits voice actors and international advertisers from working on its commercials. Nigeria is the first nation to pass a law of this kind. The prohibition will go into force on October 1; however, active projects using foreign talent that were in progress before to the announcement will be permitted to continue.
The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCOND), which first broke the news on August 23, said that the proposal was in line with government initiatives aimed at expanding the Nigerian advertising business as a whole.

Olalekan Fadolapo, the director general of ARCON, stated in a statement that the restriction is consistent with the Federal Government’s aim to foster homegrown talent and broad-based economic growth across all industries, including advertising.

With effect from October 1, 2022, all advertisements that are intended to be exposed on Nigerian advertising space must not use foreign models or voice actors, according to the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act No. 23 of 2022, which establishes ARCON as the Federal Government’s primary regulatory body for advertising, advertisement, and marketing communications.

The director-general further stated that only Nigerian artists and models should be used in all commercials and marketing communications materials.

He clarified that ongoing advertising and marketing initiatives may continue until the end of their allotted time before the prohibition will be put into effect.

However, the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) will not approve any further requests for revalidation for the ongoing exposure of such ads, according to Fadolapo.
ARCON advised the public, advertisers, media outlets, advertising communities, and advertising agencies to be aware of the restriction.

Steve Babaeko, president of ARCON, claimed in an interview with the UK’s The Times Newspaper that the new prohibition was a sign of burgeoning national pride.

If you looked at the advertisements from ten to twenty years ago, approximately half of the actors were foreigners, and the voiceovers were all done in British accents, according to Steve Babaeko. “I believe that the law is just now catching up to public opinion.
You could have detected a revival in Nigeria as recently as eight years ago. He added that people were typically dissatisfied in the past when Nigerians had upcoming films that were being shot abroad with foreign actresses.

Babaeko continued by claiming that the decision will increase Nigeria’s advertising influence and noting that other African nations now dominate Nigeria’s market share.
The most recent development has caused social media users in Nigeria to become further divided, with some claiming it was a positive step and others arguing it will have negative effects in the future.

Content courtesy of The Guardian Nigeria, Okay Africa & NFH 

African Fashion Week 2022 Showcases Vibrant Community Talent Hosted By African Fashion And Arts Movement Vancouver

African Fashion Week, hosted by African Fashion and Arts Movement Vancouver, kicked off on Feb. 19 showcasing much more than fashion, with vendors with handmade goods, food, featured performers, and music.

Attendees mingled amongst themselves and a sense of community was built throughout the space, which was something Yao Zeus Mohammed, founder, and producer of AFAM had hoped for.

“The importance of African Fashion Week to me is that it brings the community together, and it showcases the great talents we have in our community,” says Mohammed.

This is the fifth year that African Fashion Week has been hosted, however, last year AFAM could not host the event due to the COVID-19 restrictions. With restrictions eased, they were willing to host it this year even if it meant having only a quarter of the venue capacity.

During the intermission, attendees could buy finger food, Ghanaian jollof rice, pastries, meat, and vegetarian food options made by caterer Delali Adiamah.

“These are foods that you find at a party. So when you go to a wedding, when you go to a funeral … in Africa in Ghana, these are where you will find such food,” says Adiamah.

“[AFAM] brings the community together and showcases the great talents we have, and not only that, but it also shows the world we have a vibrant group of people working together on this west coast and it attracts others to come here and mingle with us,” says Mohammed.

 

The event showcased great talents by giving them space to share their story.

“We are not the only ones in this community, so you need that niche that you can really market your product to that they are interested in. That’s why it’s important not only to me but to the people involved,” says Mohammed.

Hana Woldeyes is the designer for BeadedBody. Woldeyes designs were showcased in the show as the spring collection. Most of the pieces were made from glass, wood, and rock. This year was her first time being invited to the show.

“I used to make my own jewelry. So, I made bracelet beads, necklaces, and amulets for myself, but more people kept asking me about where I got them. So, I started making them for individuals … [then] I started taking it as a business,” says Woldeyes.

Jason Bempong, the fashion designer behind clothing company Sleepless Mindz, was also invited to showcase his work during the event.

“For this particular collection, I’m really inspired by 1980s 1990s NASCAR jackets, a lot of Jeff Gordon pieces … [and] old varsity Disney Looney Tune jackets as well,” says Bempong.

Other designers like Mawogan Fashion, Navoir, Vickendel Style, Rated 18, V12 Fashion Designer, Kabumbe Fashion, and Rita Mary came together to create a fantastic show, with beautiful models walking the runway and performers dancing or singing between a few designs.

“Everyone should just keep following their dreams, even when people tell you ‘no,’ even when people tell you it’s ridiculous,” Bempong says.

“You’ve got to keep that vision alive and never give up.”

About African Fashion and Arts Movement (AFAM Vancouver)

Founded in 2018 by Yao Zeus Mohammed, African Fashion and Arts Movement (AFAM Vancouver ) is the largest African fashion and Trade exhibition in British Columbia.
(AFAM Vancouver) Host African Fashion Week annually during Black history month (February). African fashion designers and Performers from the lower mainland, various parts of Canada, the States and From Africa come together to showcase the true collaboration of art in its purest form: L I V E
Featuring Fashion, Arts, Music, Dance, Awards, Exhibition, and Marketplace.

As one of the most high-profile Africa-focused events in British Columbia, AFAM Vancouver will play host to designers & exhibitors, from Africa, Europe. continues to be the most anticipated event celebrating African Fashion, Arts, Talent, and Culture in Vancouver
With a collaborative catwalk, exhibition, and awards, AFAM Vancouver has commanded the way in highlighting Africa’s emerging designers and apparel industry and has been at the forefront of bringing awareness of Africa’s expanding fashion industry.

AFAM Vancouver aims to shift the narratives about Africa and the African diaspora by re-branding the perception of Africa as a whole. We are committed to empowering and promoting African-inspired fashion and arts by providing a premier event platform that also supports entrepreneurs in building a sustainable business that is internationally recognized and promotes social change in Africa.

Content Courtesy of The Runner & NFH Digital Team 

Meet the Top 20 Finalists Competing at Future Face Africa’s Grand Finale

After a thorough rigorous vetting process, 20 models have been selected as finalists to compete at Future Face Africa‘s grand finale, which takes place at Eko Hotels & Suites on Sunday, the 30th of January 2022.

This maiden competition proves to be a remarkable one as models from eight African countries plus thousands of digital applications worldwide compete for a chance to win the title of Africa’s next future face. Two winners will emerge from the 20 finalists. They will each receive a two-year international modeling contract with a top international modeling agency, as well as a cash prize of five thousand dollars.

The FFA project is spearheaded by none other than Elizabeth Isiorho, a pioneer in the African modeling industry and the founder of Beth Model Management Africa, Africa’s largest modeling agency, and the organization behind Future Face Africa. Over the past 17 years, Beth Model Management has served as an industry pacesetter, helping to launch the careers of dozens of internationally placed models, and has cultivated some of the best talents in the industry, such as Mayowa Nicholas and Davidson Obennebo.

FFA will be equipping selected models with the knowledge and skills to achieve international success and to have long-lasting careers in a very competitive industry. Models participating in the FFA will have the chance to change their lives forever through a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Here are the 20 FFA finalists (divided into male and female categories) competing at the grand finale:

1. Ana Campos

2. Ebiere Macaulay

3. Winifred Esi Sam

4. Eleanor Musangi

5. Juliana T Rugumisa

6. Kimberly Martha Amanya Ngabirano

7. Blessing Endurance

8. Nze Sandra chinecherem

9. Lerah James

10. Oluchi Diamonds

1. Nziza Ken

2. Eneh Michael

3. Akinsiku Chukwuka David

4. Awoliyi Mayowa

5. Ohanado Ikechukwu

6. Alokpesi Frank

7. Okonkwo Sunday Chibueze

8. Echetama Wilson Elochukwu

9. Dike Alex Emmanuel chinweotito

Content courtesy of Future Face Africa 

Don’t Miss Future Face Africa’s Grand Finale This Weekend

After physical castings in eight African countries and thousands of digital applications worldwide, Future Face Africa‘s grand finale will take place at Eko Hotels & Suites on Sunday the 30th of January 2022.

Two contestants will win the title of Africa’s next future face, and the two winners will each receive a two-year international modeling contract with a top international modeling agency, as well as a USD 5,000 cash prize. In addition to providing a career start in modeling, the competition also prepares the winners for global competition.

Championed by former model Elizabeth Elohor, whose agency Beth Modelling Agency has groomed and raised a plethora of successful models through initiatives like Elite Model Look Africa, which offered African models the pivotal push needed both internationally and locally. We can expect an outstanding evening with top celebrities, prominent players in the Nigerian fashion industry, models, and more coming out for a night of glitz and glamour.

For tickets reservations call
07069999919, 08069748761

Content Courtesy Of Future Face Africa 

Future Face Africa, Africa’s Largest Model Search Competition, Prepares For A Grand Finale

Future Face Africa, Africa’s largest model search competition, is preparing for its grand finale event in Lagos. After a rigorous selection process involving physical castings in eight African countries, as well as thousands of digital applications from all over the world, the Future Face Africa judges have selected 18 finalists who will be flown into Lagos for a shot at turning their modeling aspirations into a reality.

The grand finale event will be taking place on Sunday, January 30, 2022, at Eko Hotel & Suites, where models will be competing for a chance to win a 2-year modeling contract with a top international modeling agency, as well as a $5,000 USD cash prize.

The FFA project is spearheaded by none other than Elizabeth Isiorho, a pioneer in the African modeling industry and the founder of Beth Model Management Africa, Africa’s largest modeling agency, and the organization behind Future Face Africa. Over the past 17 years, Beth Model Management has served as an industry pacesetter, helping to launch the careers of dozens of internationally placed models, and has cultivated some of the best talents in the industry, such as Mayowa Nicholas and Davidson Obennebo.

Elizabeth Isiorho previously organized Elite Model Look Nigeria, but after a 2-year hiatus, re-emerged with Future Face Africa to expand her model search beyond the borders of Nigeria alone, and offer a wider range of hopefuls a chance at success. FFA will be giving opportunities to people from various countries, backgrounds, and skin tones, aiming to go beyond the buzzwords of “diversity” and “inclusivity” to create an initiative that truly celebrates the range of beauty that the industry has to offer.

FFA will be equipping selected models with the knowledge and skills to achieve international success and to have long-lasting careers in a very competitive industry. For these models, Future Face Africa will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could change their lives forever.

Future Face Africa is proudly sponsored by Ecobank, Aquafina, MAC, Haute Couture, and Natures Gentle Touch.

Content Courtesy Of  Future Face Africa

Aruba’s Thessaly Zimmerman Makes History at Miss Universe 2021

The 70th edition of the Miss Universe pageant was held on 12th December 2021 at Universe Dome, Port of Eilat in Eilat, South District, Israel where Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu of India was crowned as Miss Universe 2021. But there was one more name that made history that day, of Aruba’s Thessaly Zimmerman who put the country’s name among the semi-finalists after 25 years. Coming only third to Maureen Ava Vieira, fourth runner-up at Miss Universe 1974, and Taryn Scheryl Mansell who was first runner-up at Miss Universe in 1996.

Thessaly made it to the Top 10 of Miss Universe 2021 along with Chantel O’Brian of Bahamas, Valeria Ayos Bossa of Colombia, Clémence Botino of France, Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu of India, Nadia Tamara Ferreira of Paraguay, Beatrice Luigi Gomez of Philippines, Michelle Marie Colón of Puerto Rico, Lalela Mswane of South Africa and Elle Smith who was representing the United States of America.

The bachelor of international communication and media studies was completely stunned when host Steve Harvey called her name as one of the semi-finalists, going on to show how grounded she is.

“Thank you everyone for all the warm and kind messages that I am receiving with your support. I still don’t have words to describe how happy I am with the results and what was accomplished not only for myself but for my country. After 25 years Aruba’s name was called amongst the semifinalists. This shows that all my hard work was not in vain, because now people will remember Aruba. I couldn’t have done this without each and every one of you who helped me on this journey, who believed in me from the very start and never stopped believing. Thank you all for that,” expressed a grateful Thessaly.

Zimmerman hails from Oranjestad, Aruba, and was also one of our favorites for the title. She is proficient in speaking English, Spanish, and Dutch. Empathetic of nature, this Aruban beauty helped raise money for the cancer fund of Koningin Wilhelmina Kanker Fonds Aruba in May 2010 and the breast cancer fund of Mary Joan Foundation Aruba in April 2013.

She also competed in Aruba Model Search and finished in the Top 7 and worked as a model for KOMA Models in Aruba for four years. She was Miss Teen Aruba International 2012 and represented Aruba at Miss Teen Americas 2013 in El Salvador. She was runner-up to Fulvia Villarreal of Panama.

The queen was overjoyed and brimming with tears of happiness as she was welcomed back home yesterday.

Content courtesy of Angelopedia & NFH Digital Team

Deliah Ipupa

Deliah Ipupa is one of the most sought-after Kenyan models both locally and internationally.

Apart from being the official Face of Nivea, she also appeared in several of Nivea’s commercials. Ipupa has successfully walked down numerous runways and several other international occasions.

Although her journey began in Africa, modeling has seen her move to Amsterdam’s borders.

The 5.11 feet, the dark-skinned model has seen a lot in the fashion world, and has enjoyed walking the catwalk and graced our screens in so many advertisements.

Having recently competed and won the competition that led her to be the face of Nivea black and white. Her appearance is not the only thing that attracts people, but also her charisma as well.

Miss Ipupa is a versatile lady, having been a model, a judge, an actress, and an entertainer, she is surely one to look up to.

She aims to be the role model of many girls who want to be models in Africa by setting the right pace.

An Admirer of the London designer Victoria Beckham, she surely knows her way in the Fashion Industry. Her dream is to walk on the London fashion week alongside supermodel Naomi Campbell.

She fought her way to be the face of Nivea and so it is only right to say that Miss Ipupa is here to stay and many should watch out for her.

Content courtesy of Nairobi Fashion Hub Digital Team 

 

Tanzania fashion festival celebrates models of all sizes

This year’s Tanzania Fashion Festival held on October 3, embraced diversity in its choices while remaining relevant.

The show, held at the Slipway Hotel in Dar es Salaam, had models of different body sizes, heights and ages. It also gave new designers and first-time models a chance to showcase their talent.

There was a total of 21 designers – 16 emerging and five well-established.

Ruth Josephat Urio, founder of J’adore Couture which specialises in hair and cosmetics  represented different sizes and body shapes with models who don’t fit the “typical” figure.

“Fashion is for everybody. I wanted to be inclusive through action not just preaching it.

“Anyone can have a chance at fashion, what is needed is confidence to showcase products in front of the crowd,” she said.

Taff had 17-year-old model Angela walk the runway while international model and former Miss Tanzania Millen Happiness Magese made a special appearance.

Jacqueline Wolper, Bongo, a movie actress and stylist, closed the show with her collection off Wolper House of Stylish.

Some of the designers at the show were Lucky Collections, Wole, Waiz Zanzibar, Enjipai by Nasreen Karim and American-based Tanzanian designer Asia Idarous.

VIP tickets were sold at Tsh50,000 ($21.60) while normal tickets were sold at Tsh10,000 ($4.3o) advance and Tsh15,000 ($6.40) at the door.

South Africa-based fashion photographer Shawn Keiffer, who was also one of the organisers, described the country’s fashion industry as remarkable.

“The fashion industry has grown in size and sophistication. The evolution of the fashion scene in the past few years, with the changing politics of the front row and the diverse imagery behind-the-scenes, has been nothing short of remarkable,” he said.

Keiffer added that getting more support for the fashion industry would enable it to realise its potential.

“It will take joint effort to get the Tanzanian fashion industry up to speed,” he said.

However, despite the glamour of the fashion show, there are still not enough platforms for the growing number of designers, stylists and models to showcase their creativity.

“We need more platforms and fashion activities,” said Makrida Joseph, a Tanzanian model and stylist.

Besides the Tanzania Fashion Festival, there is Swahili Fashion Week and the East: The annual Tanzania fashion festival was founded by fashion TV producer and presenter Deogratius Kithama in 2018.

Content courtesy of The East African & Nairobi fashion hub 

A new Generation of E-commerce Retailers want to Globalise African fashion

Sites like Industrie Africa, The Folklore and Afrikrea are connecting African designers to customers abroad, but designers are wary of what international demand will do to their businesses.

For African designers, local e-commerce platforms can provide a gateway to an international audience eager to shop their collections. After several setbacks, a new generation of players is stepping up to bring African fashion to a global customer.

Companies including Industrie Africa, Afrikrea, Kisua and The Folklore are attracting designers wanting to gain awareness among customers outside of Africa. These companies help facilitate cross-border shipping and handling as well as marketing, all resource-intensive hurdles that could otherwise act as barriers for African fashion designers who have a willing buyer outside of their native continent, but no way to reach them sustainably.

“Shortly after launching my business on Instagram, I had people from New Zealand, Accra, New York messaging me about purchasing,” says Vanessa Iloenyosi, founder and designer of Nigerian label Nyosi, which launched in 2017. “There was no way to get things to them effectively.” Iloenyosi then partnered with The Folklore after the company, which acts as an online curator for luxury African fashion customers in the US, reached out to her.

E-commerce marketplaces for African fashion tap into a growing demand for African designer goods all over the world. Currently, Africa’s e-commerce opportunity is estimated to be $19.8 billion by Statista. According to McKinsey, the continent’s local manufacturing industry is also expected to grow to $930 billion by 2025.

This presents an opportunity for African e-tailers to promote Africa’s fashion industry globally. African designers are hoping that these partnerships, in addition to offering benefits like better shipping rates and distribution, will introduce a greater pool of customers to African fashion.

Working with a team of buyers who understand the local market also makes for a better experience selling abroad. But some designers are wary of what globalising the African fashion market means for their businesses and are pushing for a local emphasis on e-commerce plays.

With programmes like the Africa free-trade policy, a growing middle class and internet use, initiatives to encourage artisanship and African sourcing such as the Designers Consociate and grassroots work to encourage government subsidies, designers and e-tailers on the continent are hopeful that African fashion will become more than a fad for Western customers or a luxury that only richer Africans home and in the diaspora can access.

Some see it as a long time coming, but earlier attempts to establish a go-to online marketplace for African fashion have stalled.

Zuvaa, founded in 2014, lost trust with designers after marking down prices and refusing to pay the agreed commissioning rate, resulting in a 2017 petition that racked up 3,000 signatures.

The company ended up shutting down in 2019 due to the lack of infrastructure and an operations team versed in the African e-commerce industry, according to founder Kelechi Anyadiegwu. Oxosi, a once-promising African e-commerce play positioned as “Africa’s answer to Moda Operandi” that worked with prominent brands including Maki Oh, Brother Vellies and Osei Duro and inked a deal with the costume department of HBO’s Insecure, abruptly shut down in 2017. Oxosi did not respond to requests for comment.

The perks of online partnerships

E-tailers like Afrikrea, which is based in Ivory Coast and launched in 2016, are able to address shipping costs for African designers through lucrative partnerships with DHL, a company invested in tapping into Africa’s growing e-commerce.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGDkr7qlbI6/?utm_source=ig_embed

Designers selling on Afrikrea can create storefronts and receive payments from customers anywhere in the world, an important benefit for sellers based in Africa who have had difficulties accepting online payments from platforms like Shopify in the past.

Founder Moulaye Taboure recently raised $1 million in funding to further promote African designs and expand intracontinental distribution.

Amira Rasool, founder of The Folklore, uses a slightly different strategy. She and her team spend as much as four months on the continent sourcing products, coaching designers on how to price for a global market, helping to find stylists, product shooting, and negotiating shipping rates with third-party agencies. The designers then make the products and ship to the company’s warehouse in New Jersey, where it is then dispersed to customers.

African fashion e-commerce platforms also serve functions that go beyond shipping and distribution. Fashion education is a core component of Industrie Africa and critical in building up e-commerce on the continent, says founder and CEO Nisha Kanabar. Kanabar says she started the platform to shatter stereotypical interpretations of African design, which usually involve the Dutch Wax Print known as Ankara, and earn the market respect by amplifying Pan-African voices.

The platform launched in 2018 as an encyclopedia of contemporary African design and centuries-old artisanship native to the continent, then segued into e-commerce, allowing customers to shop by filters such as sustainability and material type important because it helps promote the work of African artisans in the textile industry. Most clientele is based in the UK and the US.

“African fashion consumers are already shopping online on Asos, Zara, Harrods. They just need to be taught [and] shown to ‘shop African’,” Kanabar says.

The drawbacks of scaling globally

While many African designers aim to get their collections in front of a global audience, that growth can strain small businesses as they try to meet customer expectations that don’t align with their operations. Fashion consumers have gotten accustomed to fast fashion practices that African designers cannot afford to bear, say Maxwell Boko and Mmuso Potsane, the South African design duo behind the label Mmuso Maxwell.

“See-now, buy-now is distorting people’s understanding of how fashion design works,” the design duo says. The designers argue that while international African e-commerce retailers are offering support for designers, an overreliance on Western imports undermines the industry.

“People want to come to the party when people are already there. It’s sad that co-signs from “international media” is what assures people of the unique lens that African designers bring to fashion,” says Boko.

Others in the industry are similarly wary of hinging too much of African designers’ success on how much they can resonate with a global customer. Zara Odu, a former buyer at Oxosi, says the platform came about as a way to represent that African fashion industry for Africa’s online shoppers. “Oxosi came at a time when designers were starting to get tired of pandering to international buyers and retailers,” she says. “They had spent so long waiting to belong in stores internationally; but Oxosi came with a ‘for us, buy us’ perspective accompanied with the most beautiful visuals and narrative. It was undeniably powerful, and everyone wanted to be a part of that.”

Even successful international partnerships introduce new pressures on designer businesses. For Iloenyosi, selling on The Folklore has been largely beneficial, but the cost of production led to a significant disparity between the cost of products on her Instagram page and the Folklore website leading to queries from some customers. The designer is launching her own e-commerce platform as an alternative for customers who are OK with waiting much longer for products.

Still, African designers are garnering notice from international retailers as the marketability of the sector becomes clearer, thanks in part to the African specific e-commerce platforms. Browns, owned by international luxury marketplace Farfetch, recently joined forces with Homecoming the multi-hyphenate platform whose aim is to support and bolster art and design in Africa  to showcase Africa’s fashion talent.

The festival ended with Nigerian designer Orange Culture announcing an e-commerce partnership with Farfetch. Designers like Kenneth Ize, Thebe Magugu and Mowalola have also earned global recognition.

African e-commerce platforms and buyers who understand the limitations that designers on the continent face are, ultimately, a boon for the industry.

“Designers will only grow if they can continue to sell at a steady and sustainable pace. With growing interest in traditions that are central to Africans, which boost the manufacturing and textile sectors, African merchandising will grow, allowing for better products to be made and sold all over the world,” says Odu.

Writen by BY ADEDOYIN ADENIJI

Content courtesy of Vogue Business & Nairobi fashion hub 

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