Enriched with cultural heritage and bursting with color, Africa has managed to influence the international fashion industry. Designers and models continue to be sourced from our continent. In the past Africans have coveted a life “abroad” as this seemingly was the hope for a better life. Many African designers are being patronized by world class brands because of the talent that we possess. The time to collate these efforts to an intrinsic African powerhouse is upon us.
The awakening of Africans to the resources of the continent is exciting and gives hope for a better economic state for our beautiful continent. Designers like Pierre Hardy Mwete who is a Burundian pattern maker working for Louis Vuitton and seeks to introduce the skills to his fellow countrymen. Burundi sees fashion designing as a non-paying industry and has been neglected with parents discouraging their children from pursuing it. Pierre intends to bring a mindset change revolution that will showcase the possibilities of building ones career in this industry. This is a commendable initiative that makes it easier to foster the possibility of home grown trade for Africans.
Another renowned child of the African land is Kenneth Ize (pronounced ee-zay), a Lagos born and based designer who has been making waves with his bold eponymous brand. He reinvents the traditional West African fabrics to create modern designs for men and women. His designs were initially made for men but he saw women taking an interest in them which then compelled him to deliver for women too. His designs have got him recognition from some of the elites of the industry such as model Naomi Campbell who is Kenneth’s number one fan and supporter. He expresses the disbelief he gets each time he sees Naomi walking in his clothes as he grew up watching her walk other big brands. Straight after graduating in 2013, he launched his clothing line which was a laudable move as his work was well received and grew almost immediately. Kenneth grew up in Austria which is where he got his training in fashion and design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. This cross-cultural diversity makes for a unique interpretation in the type of work production by this designer as well as the influence in the Nigerian fashion industry. In the short period that he has been actively working in the industry, he was a joint winner of the Arise Fashion Week Award for designer of the year.
The brilliance of his work is seen in the way he collaborates with artists and design groups across Nigeria as well as supporting a small community of weavers in Lagos. He also has managed to influence the creative arts curriculum in local schools to create traditional fashion. With such great minds, there is no stopping us now, Africa’s time is NOW!!