Meet the African designers shaping the future of fashion
Lagos Fashion Week has shown some of the most exciting fashion talents from across the continent over the last 10 years. As we believe Africa is shaping fashions future, here are 8 designers who show the vibrancy and creativity the continent is quickly becoming famous for.
1. Christie Brown - A Ghanaian superwoman with a passion for African storytelling
Christie Brown was founded in 2008 by Aisha Ayensu Obuobi in Accra, Ghana. The Luxury womenswear brand aims to satisfy the stylish urge of the modern African woman with pieces ranging from beautiful bespoke gowns to practical yet statement ready to wear pieces inspired by art and African culture.
Christie Brown S/S19 Campaign (2019) by Aisha AyensuOriginal Source: Lagos Fashion Week
Christie Brown pieces are specially crafted and designed to complement the amazing personalities and mirror the sensibilities of the African woman.
2. Maxhosa Africa - A modern twist of South African Xhosa knitwear
Born in Port Elizabeth in 1986, Laduma Ngxokolo founded the brand Maxhosa Africa in 2011. Laduma Ngxokolo studied Material Futures at Central Saint Martins in London, and has won several awards including the Design Indaba Most Beautiful Object Award.
Maxhosa Africa, Spring / Summer 2017 (2016) by Laduma NgxokoloOriginal Source: Lagos Fashion Week
Maxhosa Africa is known for its knitwear designs reflecting the designer’s Xhosa heritage. The Xhosa ethnic group primarily live in the Eastern Cape and has a fascinating tradition for colorful knitwear. Laduma Ngxokolo created the brand to explore knitwear design solutions that would be suitable for the amakrwala (Xhosa initiates) traditional dress. Using South African mohair and wool, the aesthetic is informed by traditional Xhosa beadwork patterns and colours.
3. Studio 189 - a sustainable lifestyle choice from the heart of Ghana
Studio 189 was co-founded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah. Made in Africa, it is an artisan produced and social enterprise fashion lifestyle brand. Studio 189 produces menswear, womenswear and children's wear that is as vibrant as it is impactful.
Studio 189, Spring / Summer 2020 (2019) by Abrima Erwiah & Rosario DawsonOriginal Source: Lagos Fashion Week
Studio 189 manufactures their collections in Accra and supports various community led projects in Africa and the USA. Studio 189 has won the prestigious award CFDA Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability. The brand partners with communities that specialise in natural plant based dye indigo, hand batik, kente weaving and more.
4. Loza Maleombho - bridging Cote D’Ivoire traditions with fashion
Ivorian American fashion designer Loza Maleohmbo establised her namesake label in New York City in 2009 and now operates from Cote D’Ivoire. Raised in Côte d'Ivoire and Maryland, she holds a degree in animation and has trained with fashion designers Jill Stuart, Yigal Azrouël and Cynthia Rowley. Loza Maleohmbo bridges Ivorian traditions with modern fashion as she continues to experiment the energies between Ivorian tribal aesthetics and New York's urban fashion.
Loza Maleombho, Spring / Summer 2016 (2015) by Loza MaleombhoOriginal Source: Lagos Fashion Week
The silhouettes celebrate the paradox of the old and new, cultural and futuristic.The brand is best described as a fusion between traditional cultures/ sub-cultures and contemporary fashion.
5. Orange Culture - cool urban streetwear from Nigeria
Orange Culture represents a movement that covers universal silhouettes with an African touch to a creative class of men. Translated into a heady mixture of Nigerian inspired prints, fabrics and contemporary urban street wear.
Orange Culture, Spring / Summer 2017 (2017) by Adebayo Oke-LawalLagos Fashion Week
Orange Culture was founded by Creative Director Adebayo Oke Lawal in 2011 during Lagos Fashion & Design Week.Orange Culture has been shortlisted for the LVMH Prize and is widely sold around the world through a range of stockists.
6. Maki Oh - beautiful and poetic Nigerian womenswear
Maki Oh, founded by Maki Osakwe in 2010 fuses traditional African techniques with detailed contemporary construction. The brand challenges prevailing notions of beauty with a distinctive take on adire (an artisanal fabric from Western Nigeria) through a womanist lens. The brand is centred in a strong sense of identity and culture, creating narrative pieces that function as direct channels of communication.
Maki Oh A/W16 Video Campaign (2016)Original Source: A Whitespace Creative Agency
Maki Oh has become a mainstay at Lagos Fashion Week with the brand showing consistently since 2011 and more recently shows to a devoted following in New York annually.
7. Lisa Folawiyo - elevating Nigerian Ankara prints with ornate embellishments
Lisa Folawiyo has perfected the art of wearing Ankara through the use of ornate embellishment. By incorporating texture with this textile, Lisa Folawiyo has transformed Ankara into a globally coveted print. Artisans use an average of 240 hours to create a single piece which bridges ridging haute couture, tailoring and contemporary prints.
Backstage at Lisa Folawiyo S/S20 show (2017)Original Source: Lagos Fashion Week
The brand has grown from its initial conception as ‘Jewel by Lisa’ into the contemporary Lisa Folawiyo which presents its very own African-inspired custom luxury prints, feminine and modern silhouettes with a story eye for tailoring and fit. The brand has grown from its initial conception as ‘Jewel by Lisa’ into the contemporary Lisa Folawiyo which presents its very own African-inspired custom luxury prints, feminine and modern silhouettes with a story eye for tailoring and fit.
8. Kenneth Ize - Nigeria's champion of innovative textiles
One of Nigeria's most exciting designers is Kenneth Ize who merges traditional crafts with an original perspective on luxury production. Kenneth Ize was born in Nigeria and grew up in Austria. He studied MA Fashion Design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and launched his eponymous label at Lagos Fashion Week in 2013. He was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize and made his Paris Fashion Week debut in 2020.
Kenneth Ize, Spring / Summer 2018 (2017) by Kenneth IzeOriginal Source: Lagos Fashion Week
Kenneth Ize has become famous with his use of traditional Nigerian textile aso-oke to create his designs. He has worked with artisans in South Western Nigeria and believes in supporting the local textiles industry. Fringed being one of his trademarks, Kenneth Ize is a champion of African heritage and looks to modernising the traditional weaving process
Curated by Debola Adebowale for Lagos Fashion Week