“I always feel that if you’re gonna be uncomfortable and unhappy in something, just because you think it’s in or it’s chic, I would advise you to be happy rather than well-dressed. It’s better to be happy.” — Iris Apfel
Local designers are redefining African fashion far from the cries of cultural appropriation levelled at Western designers like Valentino.
Today the continent is evermore relevant to the fashion industry worldwide. Global markets are not only looking to it as a sourcing destination but also as a source of inspiration.
Whether it is for bright colours, patterns or prints the world is looking to African fashion. Tropical landscapes with lush green forests, fruits and exotic flowers are great sources of inspiration for designers worldwide. From traditional patterns to the animal prints that have now become a trademark in the fashion world, this fresh and new print language is heavily influenced by the continent’s style.
Substituting imports with local products
Too many of its countries have been dependent on second-hand clothing imports from Western countries. Times have now changed. In order to move away from this trend, a number of local designers are working hard towards creating fashion collections entirely made in Africa. “There’s a political system which has been going on for decades trying to keep our countries from branding themselves. We have enough resources and our eyes are now open,” explains Carine Zoe Umutoni, the fashion designer behind Onyx.