Fashion is a global industry with so much talent from all over the world. However, the industry only sticks to the mainstream markets that contribute to global sales in the industry. Markets like New York portray the New Yorker aesthetic that creates clean-cut designs and a minimalist that are staples and essentials into many. London has a more creative vibe with voluptuous layers, artsy patchworks, and a unique British “code” that’s recognizable. Milan is sexier and more sensual where you’ll see a lot cut out dresses in revealing areas, mini dresses, leathers, furs, and more than exude this confident woman who dresses for herself. Paris has a lot of layered history of the haute couture where the designs are perfectly tailored and constructed seamlessly. The aesthetic in itself is all about draping and using these romantic silhouettes that transcend from the references of the early 1900s. There’s so much we can say about theses fashion markets which have inspired so many references and innovative silhouettes. However, other locations throughout the world have just as much talent and innovation than what we read in high profile media outlets. In a time where the #BlackLiveMatter movement has been going strong over the past month, we wanted to highlight an underrepresented market in the fashion industry that cultivates the most talent, has lots of innovation, and is the motherland to all black people! We are talking about the African fashion market and its many African fashion brands and designers
Africa is known for its tribal heritage that many of its local artisans have preserved over the years to maintain its signature attire that many African natives and African-Americans resonate with. Many African fashion brands and designers create westernized shapes and silhouettes out of these African textiles to give their customers something different and unique. Many of these textiles hold so much history that they have different names based on the tribes and country that it is produced from.
SOME EXAMPLES OF AFRICAN TEXTILES:
Akwete – woven by Igbo Tribes in Nigeria
Aso Oke – woven by Yoruba Tribes in Nigeria
Kanga – produced in Tanzania
Chitenge – produced in Zambia
Shweshwe – produced in South Africa
Kente – woven by the Ashanti Tribe in Ghana
However, the most popular African print textile is the Ankara, which is an African waxed textile produced in mainly in West Africa but distributed globally. With so much talent, artisanal technique, and rich history – it’s interesting how many African fashion brands haven’t reached mainstream global notoriety in the industry. With a stake in the fashion market and a need for more diversity in fashion, we hope to invest in more black-owned businesses, more specifically in small markets like Africa. In doing our part to raise awareness, we have compiled a list of our favorite African fashion brands.
Who knows? You just might see some of their designs in our assortment, shortly.
Andrea Iyamah owned by Nigerian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah, is one of the premiere African fashion brands that’s strongly inspired by color, ethnic cultures, nature and design elements that stay true to creating authentic clothing and resort wear with hints of a retro yet contemporary edge in design. With a flare for fashion and the arts, she advanced her tailoring skills and educated herself about fashion which later fuelled the genesis of the A.I. brand at an early age of 17. Although Andrea Iyamah is popularly recognized for its eccentric and unique take on swimwear, using vibrant colours and cuts inspired by an array of African cultures, the brand also specializes in ready-to-wear and custom made special event dresses under its sister brand Andrea Iyamah Bride. Strongly influenced by the brand’s African heritage, a blend of various cultures inspired the colours and themes of the first official swim collection which launched in 2013.
At KENNETH IZE we focus on reinterpreting examples of Nigerian craft to create an original perspective on luxury production within textile and fashion. We support a small community of weavers, and work directly with a variety of artisan and design groups across Nigeria. The label is devoted to the long established traditions of Nigerian craft and local artisanship, merging a new design aesthetic with a specifically local handcraft practice. There is the strong belief that in exploring and nurturing existing cultures, one opens up an exciting territory for creating and inspiring future traditions.
Adebayo Oke-Lawal has been designing since the age of 10. He started Orange Culture in 2011, after having worked with several Nigerian designers, to turn his unique vision of fashion into reality. Since starting the label and an official runway debut at Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2011, he’s been hard at work trying to showcase Orange Culture to the world. The label is more than a clothing line, Adebayo insists. It is a “movement” that covers universal silhouettes with an African touch to a creative class of men, translating into a heady mixture of Nigerian inspired print fabrics, colour and contemporary urban street wear.
The exciting heritage of culturally diverse South Africa imbues our design scene with earthy originality in a globally competitive industry. The color, warmth and textures of our raw materials are seen and felt on international catwalks as African inspiration infuses the major fashion houses. But the time has come for the wealth of resources to be married to the talent, creativity, and beauty of South African designer. David Tlale is a home grown label that stands out from the crowds, thanks to a design elegance that challenges the clichéd and predictable. Couture that embodies beauty without pretense and shuns harshness for poise, answering the call today’s men and women for design that is young, bold, and elegant. David Tlale is undoubtedly one of Johannesburg’s most interesting clothing labels. Dynamic in its response to local and global trends and influences, David Tlale prioritizes style coupled to expert use of fabrics. Garments of impeccable quality are born guaranteed from craftsmanship of exquisite materials, conceived from meticulous stylistic research. David Tlale‘s commitment to its environment is mirrored in its vision for business and community empowerment. The immediate plan is to on local acclaim to become a top high-fashion house in South Africa before taking on a (waiting) global market. The label has been well received since its inception in 2003 and building a brand that has a strong sense of style and individuality as its signature.
With its first international showcase at the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week in 2014, CLAN has since gained international acclaim and traction for the superior quality and minimalist aesthetic of its clothing. Offering a range of pieces from work-wear to everyday basics to occasional wear, CLAN is quintessentially African in conceptualization while catering for the urban, social and corporate needs of the modern-day woman.