If you look at the runways during New York Fashion Week, you’ll often see designs from fashionable African cities. Here are 10 cities in Africa that are making the whole world pay attention to African fashion.
Johannesburg is one of the most popular cities in Africa, and with great access to resources, it can pull off some impressive fashion shows. During its own Fashion Week, the runways showcase the city’s best designers who reveal their forecasts for the season’s trends to international media, audience and fashion wholesale buyers.
Mahogany Productions & Glasgow Fashion Week put on Lagos International fashion Week in Lagos. Nigeria is putting out dozens of inventive designers, and after making a name for itself in the music business, movie industry and modeling industry, is finally finding a place in the international fashion industry.
Colle Ardo Sow, one of the world’s top designers and a graduate of the Institute of Cut and Haute couture in Paris got her start in Dakar, Senegal. She was honored with the title “Reine de pagne tisse” meaning “Queen of loincloths” and is a crucial figure in Dakar’s fashion week. Sow says that the goals of Dakar fashion week are not only to continue to build Africa’s modern fashion industry, but also to support organizations in charge of homeless children.
Fashion designer Mustafa Hassanali first introduced Swahili Fashion Week — a platform for designers from Swahili-speaking countries to showcase their masterpieces, market their art and meet potential clientele. Swahili fashion week also helps create jobs in the region, and promotes the “Made in East Africa” concept.
African delegate Sidi-Ahmed Seidnaly is working to promote African fashion around the world through his own company, and is the founder of the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA). FIMA takes place every two years in Niger and brings in more than 2,000 attendees who check out emerging talents in African fashion and lesser-known African enterprises.
Nairobi is being called the “New New York” of Africa, as far as fashion goes. Many Kenya-based designers have gained international recognition, like womens’ wear brand Suno and accessory line Ashley Pittman. Annual fashion events include Festival For African Fashion and Arts (FAFA) and Swahili Fashion Week. Kenyan bloggers like Nancie Mwai of The Fashion Notebook and online fashion magazine Kasha have also earned the country’s fashion industry plenty of attention.
Cape Town hosts its own fashion week, run mainly by African Fashion International. Well-known designers like Gavin Rajah and industry stars like Lalesso usually attend this event, which aims to encourage South Africans to purchase homemade textiles. The Cape Town Fashion Council recently launched its Wear Only South African campaign, promoting economic sustainability.
In 2010, Luanda held its first fashion week with a joint fashion business expo. The Fashion Week opened to rave reviews from the media, drawing new, positive attention to a city that was otherwise mostly known internationally for its civil wars. Featured designers at the event included Nadir Tati, who was later chosen to showcase his designs at Africa Fashion Week, New York.
Global design icons Christie Brown, Mimi Plange and Anita Quansah all hail from Ghana. The city of Accra hosts great fashion events like Ghana Fashion Awards and Ghana Fashion & Design Week.
Bamako is a rising star in the African fashion industry and is home to recently-launched Mali Fashion Week, an event that was announced at a press conference at the United Nations in New York City.