Over the years, the African fashion industry has witnessed a great transformation with the industry gradually outgrowing its borders and becoming more visible internationally. New designers are creating successful brands that are on par with other successful designers in the world. Labels have also benefitted from the development of institutions such as the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Africa Fashion Week and the Lagos Fashion and Design WeeK. These institutions have provided designers with a platform to exhibit their work, as well as promote their brand while gaining vital media coverage. Below are our top eight African fashion designers to watch in 2017.
David Tlale NYFW’14/ Photo Credit – FabMagazine.com
- David Tlale, South Africa – The renowned designer known for his show-stopping red-carpet gowns and expertly tailored ready-to-wear pieces has managed to be a favourite in the fashion landscapes of South Africa as well as Africa. His penchant for dramatic and theatrical pieces defy convention and has made him one of the most recognizable faces in the South African fashion industry. His unique design aesthetic includes the combination of African luxury and chic couture using fine fabric and intricate detailing.
Gert Johan Coetzee, AW17. Photo Credit – gertjohancoetzee.com
- Gert Johan Coetzee, South Africa – The couture designer is one of the most successful designers in South Africa known for dressing South African and international celebrities at red-carpet events. His use of intricate embellishments on his red carpet designs are sophisticated, indulgent and iconic. His celebrity clientele include T.V personality, Bonang Matheba; singer Kelly Rowland and Reality TV star, Kourtney Kardashian.
Christie Brown, AW16. Photo Credit – christiebrownonline.com
- Christie Brown, Ghana – The fashion brand’s creative director Aisha Obuobi’s success can be attributed to discovering, sticking with and perfecting her craft using an unusual aesthetic. Her creative fusion of modernity and tradition, depicting colour and culture are next to none. The brand stands uniquely as a womenswear manufacturer and retailer, with clothes that never fail to make a bold statement for the modern-day African woman.
Maki Oh, SS17. Photo Credit – makioh.com
- Maki Oh, Nigeria – The creative director and founder of the brand, Amaka Osakwe is one designer worthy of note. She is easily one of the biggest success stories to come out of Nigeria’s budding fashion scene. Her biggest break came in 2013, when the sitting first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama wore one of her designs to a function. According to Vogue, “Amaka is never one to shy away from difficult subject matter, preferring instead to spin it into the rich, multilayered collections that have earned her a cultish fan base.”
Taibo Bacar, AW13. Photo Credit – Taibobacar.com
- Taibo Bacar, Mozambique – Taibo Bacar is unarguably one of the hottest names in the African fashion industry right now. The Mozambican designer’s pieces are an aesthetically pleasing mix of opulent fabrics, heavy prints and colours that make it easy to add to any fashion enthusiast’s daily ensemble. Taibo has had the privilege of several celebrities sporting his designs, a successful feat which many designers haven’t had the privilege of experiencing.
Duro Olowu, SS17. Photo Credit – Luis Monteiro / Vogue.com
- Duro Olowu, Nigeria – Duro Olowu’s work expresses a firm belief in art and and the beauty that comes with fusing influences from far and wide. The Nigerian-born designer is an excellent tailor inspired by classic western proportions and silhouettes, using them as a reference points for his colour combinations, fabric selection and design palette. He is known not to compromise his creativity to flatter the female form, instead he uses them to make conceptual points that carry subliminal meanings.
I am Isigo, White Noise Collection. Photo Credit – iamisigo.com
- I am Isigo, Nigeria – The versatile and fashion forward brand created by designer and stylist extraordinaire, Bubu Ogisi has achieved quite a number of enviable feats. Bubu achieves her craft through the use of textured fabrics achieving minimalist looks that have a certain edge attached to them.
Mille Collines. Photo Credit – millecollines.com
- Mille Collines, Rwanda – The Rwanda-based brand is the creative brainchild of Spanish designers Marc Oliver and Inés Cuatrecasas. The label relies heavily on East African artisans, and prides itself with finding the perfect blend between ever changing global trends and the strict African culture while maintaining a minimalist and modern look.