From Cape to Cairo and everywhere in between, Africa’s fashion industry is bursting with potential. Each country on the continent has an incredibly distinct identity and each of its designers draw from that, in some shape or form. Below we’ve rounded up five African designers that you need to know about—because there’s more to African fashion than leopard print.
Lisa Folawiyo, Nigeria
Lisa Folawiyo started her namesake label in 2005 and has become widely recognised for her creative, colourful collections that bring together traditional West African fabrics, contemporary beading and tailoring details. A lot of her garments boast hand-embellished details that reflect the brand’s focus on design integrity. Folawiyo has been at the forefront of a movement of other Nigerian designers who are being celebrated on a global scale, and her ability to elevate traditional African prints has allowed her to remain relevant to audiences in both the East and the West.
I AM I, Kenya
Ami Doshi Shah is a trained jeweller and silversmith, having gained a BA in Jewellery and Silversmithing from the Birmingham School of Art & Design in the United Kingdom. In 2013, Shah started her jewellery label, I AM I, where she sources materials locally and uses her technical training to work with the elements in unexpected ways. Shah is the only Kenyan nominee for London Fashion Week’s 2019 International Fashion Showcase and the first Kenyan in the showcase’s history.
After interning and working with fashion designers such as Peter Pilotto, Matthew Williamson and William Tempest in London, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi decided to launch her own handbag label, AAKS, back in her home country in 2014. Founded with the goal of introducing the world to her favourite weaving techniques while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs, each bag is handcrafted in Ghana, and maintains the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts characterised by bright, exuberant colours combined with modern silhouettes.
MaXhosa by Laduma, South Africa
MaXhosa by Laduma is a South African knitwear brand that is driven by heritage and identity. Inspired by designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s Xhosa roots, the brand draws inspiration from traditional Xhosa beadwork patterns, symbolism, and colours. The brand’s instantly recognisable pieces have been spotted on celebrities such as Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. The label is renown for it’s extensions and collaborations, earlier this year releasing their first line of rugs as well as a capsule collection with Swedish furniture giant IKEA.
Taibo Bacar, Mozambique
Founded by Taibo Bacar and Tatiana Ismael in 2008, Taibo Bacar is a fashion brand based in Maputo, Mozambique and offers a range of clothing, leather goods, shoes, eyewear, and accessories. Known for its uniqueness and strong attachment to the African heritage, the brand’s collections tell a story of African nobility and royalty that describes the beauty of the African woman and her culture. Taibo Bacar became the first African brand to show at African Fashion Week, as well as winning Emerging Designer of the Year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in 2012.