Taking African fashion to new heights



Published Nov 6, 2021


The last week of October was a big one in terms of African fashion. South African Fashion Week (SAFW), African Fashion International Fashion Week (AFIFW) and Lagos Fashion Week (LagosFW) all took place simultaneously.

SAFW, which ran from October 28 to October 30, hosted its first live shows since the pandemic started. The fashion spectacle was held at the Mall Of Africa. Meanwhile, AFIFW, on the same dates as SAFW, was held at The Leonardo in Sandton.

And in Nigeria, LagosFW was held from October 27 to October 30 at Balmoral, Federal Place.

It is a known secret that when it comes to fashion and style, Nigeria never misses. Under the theme “The Future Starts Now,” African designers proved that the future of African fashion is bright. Lohije, who made their LagosFW debut, presented a mini collection inspired by local artisans. They stuck to sustainability by using coconut shells to make buttons. Meanwhile, FIA, who also made a LagosFW debut, used organic cotton and linen to create a collection inspired by the totality and tenacity of a woman.

Kadiju focused on zero waste and presented a collection made from recycled fabric.

Kadiju designs at Lagos Fashion Week. Picture: Kola Oshalusi.

The ÀSSIÀN Spring/Summer 22 collection is a tribute to the late co-founder, Matiu Gordon. They focused more on bold colours, with red being dominant.

The ÀSSIÀN SS22. Picture: Kola Oshalusi.

Orange Culture presented “Peacock Riot,” a collection that evokes activism.

“At a time of public awakening, Orange Culture provokes activism through fashion with its Spring Summer ’22 collection, ‘Peacock Riot’. Following the brand’s history of using clothes to ask questions and at once answer them, this collection uncovers stories of isolation, inclusion and the quest for dignity as a collective human agenda.

"With prints inspired by peacocks, war paints and flowers, ‘Peacock Riot’ is a form of lobbying activists in a hypothetically constructed space – the OC Garden – that is free of prejudice and holds associations of people who are most vulnerable to societal stereotypes. Between feeling anger, dissatisfaction or inspiration, this garden is a representation of the mental space people occupy before they set off to confront the things that small them,” read a statement by the brand.

Orange Groove SS 22. Picture: Kola Oshalusi.

The “Akili Ni Mali” collection by Iona McCreath KIKO ROMEO focused on the Swahili traditions.

And bringing it back to our shores, SAFW AW22 featured a total of 29 designers, most of whom used sustainable materials to create their latest collections. The organisation partnered with Fashion Bridges I Ponti Della Moda, where SA designers collaborated with Italian designers to present Autumn/Winter collections.

Jacques Bam AW 22. Picture: Supplied.

“Representing approximately 50% of the world’s mohair producers, we welcome the opportunity to introduce this luxurious and sustainable South African fibre to a wider audience through the Fashion Bridges – I Ponti Della Moda project,” said Marco Coetzee, the general manager of Mohair South Africa

Jacques Bam partnered with Julian Cerro to showcase an innovative collection titled “Syrrogism”. The collection investigates the natural process of pregnancy alongside the synthetic advances used in modern society to create a deep, personal story.

Fikile Sokhulu and Ilaria Bellomo presented “Mutual Threads,” a collection that explores different textile yarn manipulation techniques and the creation of timeless artisanal pieces.

Fikile Sokhulu AW22. Picture: Supplied.

Other designers who showcased their work at SAFW include Sipho Mbuto, Allesia Dovero, Amanda Laird Cherry, Michael Peter Reid and Domenico Orefice, Thabo Kopele, Maklele, Neo and Xavier Sadan – to name but a few.

Sipho Mbuto AW22. Picture: Supplied.

At the Alto 234 – Africa’s highest Urban Bar on the 57th floor at the Leonardo building in Sandton, AFIFW presented “Be You, Be Truly African," a fashion showcase that celebrates all the unique and multifaceted expressions of being African, in a globalised world.

Sofatoo at AFI. Picture: Supplied.

“In coming together, after a long period of isolation, we are presenting a renewed outlook on who we are and what makes us unique. Driven by lifestyle and fashion, the emerging and established designers will showcase their latest collections, having reimagined new trends to complement the new way of living,” read a statement from AFI.

LoveJane was one of the designers who showcased at AFI. Picture: Supplied.

The designers who showcased their collections include Lufi D, Cheron Drey, David Tlale, Urban Zulu, Sister of Africa, Seditsi, Imprint, K Moraba Collective, Love Jane Collection, So’ Fatoo, House of Fabrosanz, Shamyra Moodley and many others.

Sisters of Africa showcased at AFI. Picture: Supplied.

Veteran musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka got to walk the runway in a Lufi D number. While Nomalanga Shozi, host of the most, dazzled in Otsile Sefolo and Imprint.

From December 3 to December 4, SAFW will install a Pop Up Shop at the Mall of Africa, Crystal Court. About 40 designers of men’s and womenswear will be selling their products.

This article first appeared in Saturday Insider, Nov 6, 2021