African fashion designers are revolutionizing the worlds of fashion with truly inspiring visions. From Nigeria’s Nkwo Onwuka, Lisa Folawiyo to South Africa’s Laduma MaXhosa, Cameroun’s Imane Ayissi, but to name a few. We see them experiment with sustainable textiles in Africa creating designs that celebrate their heritage beyond international boundaries.
South Africa’s fashion poster boy has been causing a stir for a while now, both here and abroad. His hugely popular knitwear brand, MaXhosa by Laduma, which draws inspiration from the Xhosa rite of passage, could be described as a bolder African version of Italian label Missoni. It has already garnered a huge following around the globe – including several cast members of “Black Panther”, who wore MaXhosa’s designs to the world premiere of the smash hit movie.
You could say that art runs in Imane Ayissi’s blood. Born in Cameroon to a champion boxer father and “Miss Cameroon” mother, he toured the world as a member of the “Ballet National du Cameroun” before working as a successful male model for the likes of Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent and Valentino. Eventually following his true passion, he turned himself into a fashion household name thanks to his successful couture and prêt-à-porter lines, which seamlessly blend African tribal art with Parisian Haute Couture.
Having perfected the art of wearing “Ankara” (local West African cloth) through the use of ornate embellishment, Lisa Folawiyo transformed the textile to create a highly covetable print. Garments are handcrafted by expert artisans, a painstaking process taking up to 240 hours. The result has been an international runaway success – Folawiyo’s designs have been shown at New York Fashion Week, and can be admired on celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o and Thandie Newton.
Growing up in Nairobi, Katungulu Mwendwa spent much of her childhood observing her late grandmother, who sourced materials from local artisans for her curio shop. Passionate about Kenya, the budding designer returned home as soon as she had completed her fashion degree in London to start her own contemporary fashion line. Experimenting with innovative fabrics, traditional methods and modern techniques, her timeless casual and semi-formal designs are fast gaining an international following.