An African Style Revolution
African Fashion is going places and fashion lovers the world over are sitting up and taking notice. Here’s how you can incorporate the hottest brands into your wardrobe.
Designers the world over have always turned to Africa for inspiration. From prints to texture, unique textiles to silhouettes; the continent has been an extensive source of reference. But now Africa is having its own, much deserved moment in the sun. From Sierra Leone-born image director Ib Kamara heading up image and art-direction at Off-White, to British Vogue’s directional editor Edward Enninful (now the editorial advisor of British Vogue and global creative and cultural advisor of Vogue), the continent’s creatives are finally gaining recognition on the world’s stage.
The same goes for Africa’s designers. Improvements in infrastructure, a push in African tourism and easy visual representation via social media have meant that the fashion industry is gaining much more global traction. And the buyers have come knocking, looking for those joyful, dramatic and standout pieces that the continent is known for. But also they are becoming increasingly loyal to the creatives focusing on quality materials, knife sharp tailoring and interesting experimentation between global fashion trends and local identity.
Think locally crafted prints mixing with norm core tailoring. Floaty evening wear cut to suit an inclusive size curve or genderless clothing that makes a statement while staying accessible and stylish . Cute-Saint is a Nigerian brand that mixes what they call ‘often ignored African narratives’ with modern, easy to wear shapes. From a timely pride positive range to a resort wear line titled ‘gene explosion,’ the mood is focused and considerate. Their latest collection combines relaxed separates with carefully considered design elements like their all-over Omo Eko motif, a nod to the joy and pride of being a Lagosian and a determination to succeed in life. Printed in an all-over graffiti style, this emblem feels like a universal mantra and the slouchy separates an homage to streetwear the world over.
Spring/Summer 2023 surface adornment is another must. Bigger is better - puffy sleeves, pom poms, embellishments and feathers. Ghana’s expert tailors are embracing this trend with aplomb. The attention to finery details like all over embroidery or contrast stitching particularly stands out. As designers get more access to global trends, silhouettes are merging to include a modern style code alongside exciting African colours, prints and textiles. Poqua Poqu creations are colourful but tastefully arranged with tonally proportioned prints. Think a luscious berry tulle ballerina skirt paired with a structured Ankara print jacket or a hot pink raw silk asymmetrical hem dress with meticulously pleated bodice, cut away details and hint of turquoise wax print lining. Then there’s Akua Asante. Alongside the brand’s eye for fringing, tie-dye fabrics and pleating, comes beautifully intricate embroidery that can only come from a passion for handcrafted skill. These looks are innovative, dramatic yet feminine. The embodiment of a woman who understands and wants to express her individuality.
If however 2023’s quiet luxury trend is more your thing then look no further than the celebrated Mai Atafo. The Nigerian creative director’s namesake brand Atafo is a smorgasbord of luxurious treats. The brand is known for its stylish approach to traditional Nigerian wear, however the key offering also includes bespoke tailored garments, dramatic wedding gowns, and sartorially elegant ready-to-wear pieces that translate effortlessly into any powerhouse wardrobe. SS23 features beautifully structured denim suiting, utilitarian details and pin sharp collars that mean business. Each piece in the SS23 womenswear collection was also crafted to be unisex, so don’t be surprised if your partner raids your wardrobe.
To spice up an existing wardrobe, the continent’s accessories offering has never looked stronger. From Nigeria’s Okiki Marinho using the finest quality Italian leather in heirloom handbag shapes to Kisara’s innovative mix of wicker and leather, arm candy is a luxury experience.
For more body adornment we look to Kenya’s shores where hammered silver cuffs, traditional beadwork and cowrie shell neck pieces for the base of Enkaya Designs aesthetic mix. Give a pop of neckline colour to a cinched waist suit sans shirt (another SS23 trend staple) or add a metallic edge to skin and a bias cut slip dress. For something softer but no less interesting, Auva’s ring selection is fluid and modern. Working alongside a team of Nairobi-based artisans, creative director Kawthar Ali creates pieces in solid silver and gold that can be stacked or kept minimal.
Shop the most exciting African designers, artisans and artists on one platform. Ananse is the continent’s first digital shopping platform, curating the best of local talent for a global fashion lover. For your fix of the best in African designs visit ananse.com