Africa has a long history of creating vivid and bold patterns as well as wax textures.
Skilled craftsmen and innovators have captured the essence of different African cultures through their precise tailoring and fabric weaving. Designers from the continent are gaining a greater international presence with an array of African-inspired attire showcased at shows such as Africa Fashion Week, Lagos Fashion Week, and Ghana Fashion and Design Week. The recent blockbuster, “Black Panther”, also emphasises the continual spread and celebration of clothing from the continent.
The list of internationally recognised African designers continues to grow; here are three brands you should know.
Founded in New York in 2009, Loza Maléombho is a sophisticated brand that combines Ivorian traditional and sub-traditional cultures with modern fashion.
Designing from a young age, Ms Maléombho established the brand, which is now based in Cote d’Ivoire. The brand’s collections fuse and experiment with Ivorian tribal aesthetics and New York Urban style.
Working with skilled artisans from her country, Loza Maléombho has gained an international presence with its experimental and sophisticated cross-continental designs. In 2016, Beyoncé featured the SS16 Zauli collection in her “Formation” video. The collection was inspired by Djela Lou Zaouli, a Guro Princess from Northern Cote d’Ivoire.
The successful West African high-end fashion brand has graced the pages of various global fashion magazines and newspapers, with Elle South Africa including the eponymous brand in its “African Designers Take Milan At Pitti’s Women’s Fashion Fair, Super” article.
Raised in Cote d’Ivoire and the United States, Loza achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation from the University of the Arts of Philadelphia in 2006 and interned with various fashion design companies in New York.
Characterised by neo-African culture, Aisha Obuobi’s luxury fashion brand Christie Brown is where “modernism meets tradition” and “where personal style meets just the right touch of Africa.”
Established in Ghana in 2008, Christie Brown is unique in style and showcases bespoke apparel as well as innovative accessories with striking statements.
Since entering the fashion world, the Ghanaian brand has been a bold force on the runway. The brand won the Emerging Designer of the Year Award in 2009 at the Arise Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg. Christie Brown was also the only Ghanaian brand featured at the Arise L’Afrique-A-Porter at the Paris Fashion Week in March 2010. Since its inception the brand has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Italia, Canoe 53 and Glamour Magazine, achieving global recognition.
In an interview with Elle Magazine, Obuobi offered a statement about the inspiring nature of her brand for women. “I’d like for our clothes to be part of the African woman’s journey to self-discovery. Because I believe that it is from knowing and appreciating where she’s from, that she’ll truly be able to come into her own.”
Named after Obuobi’s seamstress grandmother, Christie Brown is based in Accra, Ghana.
Grabbing the attention of international fashion magazines such as StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan, and Elle South Africa, Andrea Iyamah (A.I.) is an exquisite clothing line influenced by colour and ethnic cultures. Designer Dumebi Iyamah owns the brand, which has gained popularity and been admired for its unconventional and unique swimwear range with its trademark bright colours inspired by African culture, and ready-to-wear and custom-made dresses. Iyamah released the first swimwear collection in 2013. The luxury brand aims to tell a story through each piece, creating ethnic styles with a modern edge.
Speaking to Pulse Nigeria Magazine, the designer recalled her biggest, entrepreneurial highlight so far. “There have been many highlights in various parts of the brand. Showcasing Andrea Iyamah swimwear at LFDW15 was great because of the incredible crowd reaction received from the show and on social media. From expanding our number of branches with showrooms in Canada and Nigeria to relaunching our ready-to-wear line, it’s difficult to choose which one is the biggest highlight”. She went on to advise aspiring designers to take “things slowly “ and “learn gradually from people you are most inspired by…”
Dumebi Iyamah educated herself about fashion and conceived the idea for A.I. at age seventeen. The brand is based in Canada, Ontario.