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7 Amazing African Fashion Designers to Help You Spice Your Wardrobe

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African fashion is increasingly becoming popular in the United States. It’s been part of red carpet events and films, for example, Black Panther. This visibility coincides with the recognition of the black community and its cultural renaissance. 

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African fashion designers are capitalizing on this demand and producing pieces suitable for events, offices and other occasions, from head wraps, jewellery and ornaments. These are the names you need to know.  

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Amaka Osakwe

Nigerian Amaka Osakwe is the founder of Maki Oh. Her designs received global attention, with Hollywood celebrities like Rihanna and Beyonce adorning them. Former First Lady Michelle Obama wore Amaka’s designs during her visit to South Africa in 2013.

Her concepts incorporate traditional styles from West Africa and fuse them to produce modern outlooks. Her work has been showcased at the New York Fashion Week and  Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.

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Imane Ayisi

Imane Ayisi speaking about his work. Video Credit: Institut français de Suède

Born into a family of a stylist mother and a boxing father, Ayisi followed in their steps with his interest in dance. He was part of Cameroon’s national ballet and performed in several high-end events. His mother was a former Miss Cameroon and her influence rubbed off on him.

Ayisi made the first dress for his mother and evolved to make exhibition pieces. He has shown his work at numerous events across the world. He fuses his love for dance and Paris Haute Couture in his work.

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Laduma MaXhosa

Laduma Ngxokolo is one of the top South African fashion designers you should know. He founded MaXhosa Africa, a brand that focuses on knitwear designs. Initially, Laduma created products for the South African market but decided to go global.

His childhood, surrounded by tradition, inspires his brand. Elders, women and men plus young kids were identified by traditional wear. The name of his brand Maxhosa partly originates from the traditional initiation he underwent and is also a way of preserving the culture.

That said, Laduma recognizes the essence of modernizing to the latest African wear designs for guys. He offers different collections:

  • Alkebulan
  • We are the ones you’ve been waiting for
  • “Ingumangaliso Imisebenzi Kathixo” (‘God’s work is miraculous)

You can find Maxhosa Africa in several areas in South Africa including Mall of Africa, Waterfall, Midrand, Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport. Its New York store will open soon.

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Lisa Folawiyo

Any African girl should look to Nigerian fashion designer Lisa Folawiyo for her imagination that elevates Ankara fabric into vibrant garments with beaded embellishments.

She started her brand in 2005 and is now a household name worldwide. Her work has been shown at events in Johannesburg, New York, Milan, Paris and London. 

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Katungulu Mwendwa

The Kenyan fashion designer’s curiosity was sparked by her grandmother’s curio shop. Katungulu Mwendwa studied fashion design in the United Kingdom and later returned home to start her brand, Katush.

It’s inspired by history, empathy, African heritage and environmental consciousness while exploring African female identity. She has showcased her work in Paris, New York, Lagos Mozambique and other places. 

Loza Maleombho

Loza Maleombho grew up in a multicultural environment which nurtured her curiosity about the link between identity, culture and fashion. She studied at the University of the Arts of Philadelphia after which she went into the fashion world, making pieces that show the evolving nature of African fashion.

She honed her experience next to established designers like Jill Stuart and Cynthia Rowley. Additionally, Maleombho is an advocate for African designers and collaborates with them to elevate African fashion.

Lemlem

Ethiopian fashion model Liya Kebede started her brand Lemlem to preserve the weaving culture in her home country. She has conquered the world of modelling and fashion after working for established brands such as Tom Ford, Victoria’s Secret and Tommy Hilfiger among others. Through Lemlem, she advocates for local artisans and helps them get opportunities abroad. 

There’s no shortage of African fashion designers to talk about. They are passionate about celebrating African culture and heritage and sharing it with the world. Its richness makes it pop on the international stage which is why the fashion and film industries find it irresistible. This has brought prestige to the entire continent and created a strong foundation for the future of African fashion.

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