Styling Africa – The world’s emerging fashion capitals are right here  


Forget about Milan, New York, Tokyo and Paris for a moment; and Versace or Gucci gracing runways in Europe.  This time it is all about Africa. From Abidjan, Lagos to Lilongwe the last decade has seen a rise in national fashion weeks across Sub-Saharan Africa.  Now in its second year, Côte d’Ivoire Fashion Week is set to take place from December 20 to 23 at the Historic City of Grand Bassam (National Costume Museum) in Abidjan under the theme “Ivorian Textile Products on the American Market”.

At the end of this year, Dar es Saalam hosts East Africa’s premier fashion week ‑ the Swahili Fashion Week, which began in 2008,. Last year’s edition saw 21 Tanzanians and nine others from across Africa showcasing their designs.  This year, Malawi hosted its first-ever fashion week in Lilongwe between May 31 and June 3.

Mercy Mbundungu, the events co-ordinator of Malawi Fashion Week says the show was set to be a trendsetter for Malawian style, fashion and local materials. The buyers and the media had the opportunity to look at the latest fashion trends sweeping the country. Maputo hosts the eighth edition of the Mozambique Fashion Week in December. Mozambique Fashion Week started in 2005.

According to Antje Brauer-Maxaeia in an article titled “Mozambique Fashion Week Ramps Maputo’s Runways” and published on   , “In 2012 the Mozambique Fashion Week even hosted a kids’ fashion show supporting an orphanage in Maputo which has worked with MFW on creating some of the designs.”

Nigeria boasts of the Lagos Fashion and Design Week between October 23 and 26, 2013. Lagos was supposed to have hosted the ARISE Magazine Fashion Week, however, the AMFW 2013 event, scheduled for March 28-1 April, was postponed due to technical and logistical reasons.

In Accra, the Ghana Fashion and Design Week – now in its second year – takes place this October. With influential media platforms in support of this year’s event, including New African Woman Magazine UK, Raine Magazine New York, Shadders Africa Global, Designing Africa TV Kenya, Pana TV Nigeria already in line, and a long list of press and media in attendance, the event is sure to take a centre stage once again on the global scene, placing Ghana on the global fashion map.

On the other side of the continent in Kampala, Sylvia Owori – one of Uganda’s most acclaimed designers – is on a drive to get to the top of the fashion world. She has redone her website and logo as part of the Sylvia Owori rebranding project. The Sylvia Owori label, launched in 2004, provides a range of prêt-a-porter (ready-to-wear) exclusively on sale in the flagship store in Kampala and in an outlet in Nairobi.  

This year, Sylvia launched her new vintage collection whose pieces are made of kitenge material: her choice of fabric is reminiscent of the styles of famed British designer Ozwald Boateng who uses this material for male blazers.

Harare hosted the Zimbabwe Fashion Week, which was founded by Priscilla Chigariro in October 2009. Entering its fourth year, the Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2013 was held at Sam Levy’s Village in the up-market Harare suburb of Borrowdale, from August 29 to 31, 2013. It showcased designers and artists from Zimbabwe and the continent under the theme “Fashion Through The Ages”, a tribute to centuries of creativity and artistic endeavour that stand today as the most significant symbols of any historical period or expression of national identity.

• Tendai Mbofana is based in Juba, South Sudan and he wrote this article for The Southern Times

October 2013
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