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African Designers Reclaim African Fashion

The influential nature of fashion in our world is indisputable. It is one of the prominent artistic mediums in which the ordinary can be made extraordinary, the mundane shifted into fantasy. Fashion has a place

The influential nature of fashion in our world is indisputable. It is one of the prominent artistic mediums in which the ordinary can be made extraordinary, the mundane shifted into fantasy. Fashion has a place in society where it can be used to celebrate and spotlight one’s heritage. For African nations representation in the industry is important. Far too often the image of Africa is controlled by the European lens and narrative. It doesn’t allow the true nature of the continent’s plurality and regional differences to come forth and welcome people into a new cultural experience.

As social media has grown, the opportunity to reclaim the narrative of the continent has grown exponentially. African fashion designers are able to bring their creativity to the forefront and showcase the influences of their heritage to a wider audience. These outstanding designers are quickly gaining recognition and leading the way toward making the continent a known place to turn to for stunning avant-garde fashion.

Some do it with vibrant textiles. Some do it with conscious purpose. Some do it with daring cuts and mixed fabrics. One thing is for sure, they all do it with artistic talent that we should celebrate.

Here we offer a selection of African fashion designers who have caught the fashion world’s eye with their distinctive work:

Duro Olowo

“A play on length and proportion and sharp tailoring in intricate modern fabrics and urban pieces that are stylish and travel well.”

Given the fact that U.S First Lady Michelle Obama regularly wears Olowo’s creations and invited him to decorate the White House for Christmas, it is safe to say the designer is on the worldwide stage. Shortly after the launch of his fashion line, Olowo won the coveted position of New Designer of the Year award British Fashion Awards. Since then Olowo’s high-end collections have been strutted down the runway during Fashion Week in design capitals like London, New York City, Milan. His designs have been picked up from large retailers like JCPenny but largely Olowo’s line runs on the expensive side. They are, after all, high-end pieces.

Visit the designer’s website at: http://www.duroolowu.com/

Loza Maléombho

“It’s an artistic expression with clothes, a language, a way of telling yourself.”

If you haven’t heard Loza Maléombho’s name by now, you may want to get acquainted soon. Born in Brazil but of Cote de Ivore origin, Maléombho is a rising star in design. Her #alienedits series on Instagram have achieved legendary status as she transformed the selfie into a socially-conscious response to the ongoings of the world. She draws inspiration from her heritage and combines them with modern cuts to create daring pieces. Recently, H&M featured the designer and her work in their Close The Loop campaign to promote sustainability. A piece from her collection was also featured in Beyonce’s latest world-stopping video Formation. Be prepared for the reign of Maléombho as her designs steadily make way onto the glossy pages of prominent publications.

Visit the designer’s website at: http://www.lozamaleombho.com/

Sindiso Khumalo

“It is not just about making pretty dresses. Fashion is about making a change in people’s lives, providing decent jobs, sending kids to school and protecting the environment.”

In 2015 South African designer Sindiso Khumalo won Vogue Italia’s 2015 ‘Who is on Next?’ Womenswear Award. Khumalo produces a line of textiles dedicated to sustainability, ethical consumerism, and empowerment. Three aspects she touched upon at the 4th Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. As well, her work has had the honor of being showcased in prestigious venues such as London’s Royal Festival Hall and in Washington for the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Khumalo certainly has the power to influence fashion and ethical practices to help create a beautiful world with more sustainable choices.

Visit the designer’s website at: http://www.sindisokhumalo.com/

Taibo Bacar

“I talk to my fabrics. I ask them what they want and I give them life.”

Taibo Bacar’s red carpet-ready looks prove why he is a leading African fashion designer. The Mozambican has the honor of being the first African brand to showcase at Milan Fashion Week. Bacar continues to solidify his brands’ reputation with numerous awards and exhibitions in Africa and Europe. His womenswear line grabs attention as his elegant pieces are worn by popular personalities like E! Africa host Bonanza Matheba and South African actress Terry Pheto. Bacar’s haute couture brand is one to follow as it will always produce astonishing gowns that make a statement.

Visit the designer’s website at: http://taibobacar.com/

Added bonus, Bacar’s recent creation for the 10th Annual South African Film and Television Awards:


Who are your favorite African fashion designers or brands? Let us know in the comments below!

Ademidun Adejobi
Ademidun Adejobi is a graduate student of English with a focus on minority literature. She believes in the importance of stories as a way to empower the underrepresented and give a voice to identities that lie outside of the tradition. She is an Editor and writer with Applause Africa.
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