African fashion is a booming industry with global relevance. In recent years, the continent has seen an increasing number of local designers coming to prominence on the world stage. From Paris to New York and London, African fashion designers are making waves with their innovative takes on traditional textiles and styles. In the past few years, we have seen an explosion in the number of African-centered fashion brands. From fast-fashion labels like NEND and MEND to high-end label The Black Vanilla, more and more producers are creating clothing that reflects their own sense of style as well as their cultural heritage. As these labels continue to gain recognition, it helps bring attention to the beauty of African fashion, as well as its continued growth as a sector around the world.
Why is African fashion important?
The fashion industry is worth over $2 trillion globally, making it one of the largest industries, not just in terms of jobs, but also in terms of trade. While Western fashion houses have been leading the industry for decades, Africa is one of the fastest growing regions for fashion. This is in large part due to the sheer size of the continent, which has growing populations of young people who are increasingly becoming more aware of their own identities and how they want to dress. As African fashion has long been underrepresented in mainstream media, it’s important that it has its own spotlight. By featuring African designers, we can highlight their work, as well as their inspirations, cultural values, and visions for the future.
Bridging the gap between tradition and modernity
As African fashion continues to grow, it’s important that products draw on the past while also thinking about the future. By exploring and reinterpreting traditional fabrics and styles, African designers are able to create pieces that are both modern and appealing to a global audience. This can be seen in a number of brands, including NEND and MEND with their innovative takes on printed textiles, as well as The Black Vanilla, whose producers have drawn from traditional African patterns and fabrics to create modern and fashionable garments.
NEND: Shifting the narrative with African prints
NEND is a brand that has quickly put itself on the map thanks to its bold and beautiful designs. Founded by British-Nigerian designer Nadia Ford-Robinson, NEND has become a go-to name for African-centered fashion, with a particular focus on printed fabrics. NEND’s styles have been praised by publications like Vogue and Elle, and their African-inspired prints have become instantly recognizable. NEND has collaborated with a number of producers and celebrities, most notably Solange Knowles, who designed her own line for the brand. NEND’s bold and colorful designs speak to a new generation of young people who are proud of their cultural heritage.
MEND: Women empowerment through fashion
MEND is a brand that started as a social enterprise that helped women in West Africa earn an income. Today, MEND is a fashion brand that is all about empowerment. MEND’s designs are edgy and bold, with a focus on tailoring and modern cuts. The pieces are made from high-quality fabrics, and many are hand-sewn by women in West Africa. MEND is a great example of how African fashion can help empower women, both in Africa and around the world. MEND is able to create desirable styles while also offering women an opportunity to work. MEND’s designs are sold in high-end fashion stores, as well as through its own website.
The Black Vanilla: Luxury goods made in Africa
The Black Vanilla is one of Africa’s first high-end fashion brands, with boutiques located in major cities around the continent and the Middle East. Founded by Nigerian designer Duro Olowu, The Black Vanilla is a luxury brand that is all about celebrating African style. The brand features African prints mixed with European tailoring, as well as bold and luxurious fabrics. The Black Vanilla is also one of the first African brands to feature models of African descent in their advertisements. The brand is a great example of how African fashion can further itself by using its own strengths
Kankan Marron and Vanjaoe: Made in Africa, by Africans
Kankan Marron and Vanjaoe are two designers who are playing an important role in changing perceptions of African fashion. These designers, who come from different countries in Africa, are creating their own lines of clothing that draw on their cultural heritage. Kankan Marron is a Nigerian designer who is putting her own spin on traditional African prints with bold and vivid styles. Vanjaoe is a Ghanaian designer who has created his own take on men’s suiting, putting his own spin on classic textiles. As brands that are made in Africa, by Africans, these designers are helping to shift the narrative about what African fashion is and who it appeals to. Kankan Marron and Vanjaoe are drawing attention to the creativity and ingenuity of African producers.
African fashion is a booming industry with global relevance. In recent years, the continent has seen an increasing number of local designers coming to prominence on the world stage. From Paris to New York and London, African fashion producers are making waves with their innovative takes on traditional textiles and styles. In the past few years, we have seen an explosion in the number of African-centered fashion brands.