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Fashion Africa By Jacqueline Shaw

There is a fashion renaissance going on in Africa – from street clothes to luxury wear.

 

Foreword by Chris Spring, Curator of African Collections at the British Museum

In recent years, the fashion world has seen a flurry of new collections inspired by Africa’s vibrant colours, patterns and textures from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Diane von Furstenberg and Junta Watanabe to name a few. Increasingly, designers and labels are choosing to move the entire production of their collections to Africa. Forerunners in this trend such as Vivienne Westwood, collaborators Diesel and Bono’s label Edun and ASOS have discovered inspiration, sourced sustainable materials, constructed their garments using high-quality, ethical workshops and to benefited from exposure in both local and international markets this vast continent provides. The fashion industry is clueing up on Africa’s potential.

‘My choice of textile development Barkcloth, is sourced from Uganda. A 600-year old tradition and one of the oldest cloths made by man…’ Josephine Kyomuhendo, founder José Hendo

The glitterati are also getting ahead of the Africa curve: A-listers Heidi Klum, Beyonce, Thandie Newton, Naomi Campbell, Lucy Lui and Kendall Jenner have all been seen in up-and-coming African designers. Bold African prints can also be seen gracing the White House corridors thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama.

‘The positive aspect of producing in Africa is mainly the abundance of inspiration for designs…’ Kwabena Oppong Boeteng, founder Kayobi (Ghana)

In Fashion Africa, leading African fashion blogger Jacqueline Shaw showcases over 40 of Africa’s top designers from across the whole continent from Kayobi in Ghana to Brother Vellies in South Africa and Namibia, with over 300 specially commissioned photographs and revealing interviews.

The designers are honest about the challenges of producing in Africa: poor infrastructure, particularly in transportation, lack of specialised machinery and gaps in the supply chain which means, for instance, that Africa grows 12% of the world’s cotton but exports 95% of this due to the lack of mills and factories to process it.

‘We need to feed this demand so that Africa can trade its way out of the poverty hole we are stuck in’ Alice Heusser and Olivia Kennaway, LaLesso (Kenya)

But designers also enthuse about Africa’s potential; on a creative level, the variety of fabrics, colours, craft techniques, and artistic and cultural influences are astronomical. At a business level, the fashion industry can be an engine for economic growth as it is relatively cheap to set up shop, and the brand values can centre on ethical standards that compare well to the world’s image of sweatshops in Asia.

At a time when Africa is enjoying unprecedented economic growth and a rapidly expanding middle class, fashion offers both a creative and a business opportunity.

Featured designers include:

 

Adele Dejak

Eki Orleans

KikoRomeo

Nearfar

Afro-Chique

Enzi Footwear

Kondakis

NKWO

Bestow Elan

Gloria Wavamunno

Lalesso

NOIR

Brother Vellies

Ituen Basi

Lanre Da Silva Ajayi

Ohema Ohene

Buyu Collection

Jewel by Lisa

Laurence Airline

Oliberté

Chichia London

Jewels of the Kalahari

Loza Maléombho

Sandstorm Bags

Choolips

Johari

MADE

Sawa Shoes

Christie Brown

José Hendo

Marianne Fassler

Sindiso Khumalo

Craig Native

Kayobi

Maxhosa

Suno NY

Doreen Mashika

Kemkem Studio

Mia by Mia Nisbet

Tiffany Amber

Edun

Kiki Clothing

Modahnik

Zed-Eye

 

About the Author

Jacqueline Shaw has worked within the fashion industry in the UK, China, Turkey and now in Africa. She is a fashion designer, business woman, eco-entrepreneur, blogger, writer and visionary. Jacqueline has travelled extensively throughout Africa, chronicling the fashion and textile industry and social enterprises across the continent from Ghana to Nigeria and Southern Africa. Her blog, Africa Fashion Guide, has been highlighted by The Guardian as one of the top ten African fashion blogs.

Fashion Africa by Jacqueline Shaw will be published by Jacaranda Books on 27 February 2014, price £45 hardback, ISBN 9781909762008.

 

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