The African fashion scene has captured the attention of the world through its unique designs and its trend towards environmentally sustainable fashion that provides stable employment for local artisans, while also preserving African culture.
Here’s a look at five fashion-forward African designers who are taking over the international fashion scene with their fresh looks.
Kibonen NYMarhaw FashionChizÓ Designs by Chisoma Lombe
Kibonen NYKibonen NY is a fashion brand owned by Cameroonian designer Kibonen Nfi. A certified image consultant with a Master’s Degree in International Trade and Marketing from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Nfi began her design career as the co-founder of KiRette Couture, which gained popularity in the West African fashion industry. In 2011, she branched off as a solo designer, establishing Kibonen NY.
Made from ethically sourced fabrics and crafted by Cameroonian artisans, Kibonen garments infuse traditional African fabrics and prints with contemporary designs to create an authentic African design. Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o was recently spotted wearing a handwoven A-line dress from the latest Kibonen NY collection at the premiere of her latest film Queen of Katwe.
Marhaw is an African brand that creates uniquely designed handbags using the best raw materials that are ethically sourced from throughout the continent. The bags are made with high-quality leather from Ethiopia and hand-woven fabrics from Ghana, with women employed from both countries to manufacture the goods. Giving job opportunities to locals is part of Marhaw’s efforts to keep the traditional batik-making, leather creation and weaving industries alive.
Founders Elsa Adane from Ethiopia and Ghanaian Edith Uyovbukheri describe the handbags as proudly African with a global appeal. Their ultimate goal as designers and entrepreneurs is to support African artisans, and showcase their work to the world as proof that Africa is a fashion hub to be reckoned with.
ChizÓ Designs by Chisoma LombeChisoma Lombe is a Zambian designer and founder of ChizÓ Designs. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Chisoma left her cosy finance job in 2014 to pursue her fashion and design passion. She made her debut at Zambia Fashion Week that same year, and her signature colourful embroidery, bold shapes and bright colours have since gone on to feature on other runways in some of Africa’s major cities.
Chisoma has been appointed as the Textile Ambassador to Zambia by the African Union and, being an activist at heart, she hopes to use the platform to bring real developmental change to Africa.