Vivid colours, bold prints and regal aesthetics — African fashion is indeed a whole different category on its own. Their designs are bold yet timeless, and meek dressers might step away for how loud they physically look. Yet to many, it’s an expressive fashion style that codifies Afro-symbolism and a unique cultural context that designers from other regions can’t lay claim to.
While there is nothing particularly ‘new’ for African fashion, these cultural designs have been thrust in the spotlight in recent years. Just think of the multiple occasions where we’ve witnessed African-inspired fashion being put front and centre, the latest being Black Panther’s red carpet premiere where celebrities dressed in royal African regalia.
While the event was truly awe-inspiring, the fact remains that most of the celebrities were not dressed by African fashion designers. Big fashion moguls such as Givenchy have incorporated tribal elements multiple times in their designs since the early 2010s. Donna Karen, Emilio Pucci, Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren have also followed suit.
These names are ostensibly non-African. Yet diving deep into the creative DNA of the sprawling continent would reveal a wealth of luxury African labels making their mark at home and abroad, if not amongst the mainstream media, then amongst the fashion cognoscenti. Each brand has their own story to tell and many have incorporated individually unique traits into their designs. Here are seven names to watch.