Will The Authentic African Designers Please Stand Up?
Africa has become very popular in the fashion industry. You can find Ankara, Kente, Kitenge and other wax prints throughout various mainstream designers. They say “Imitation is the best form of flattery,” but it is only right to showcase African designers that have been using African textiles and designs for years. The Western world loves to pick and choose parts of a culture without telling the whole story, often the “Single Story,” which is problematic. There are plenty of African designers on the continent and throughout the diaspora that have created amazing collections.
Let’s explore some of the talented designers that Africa has produced.
Many of us came to know Korto Momolu during her time as a contestant on BRAVO’s "Project Runway," season 5. Although she was the first runner up her bold, colorful garments stood out and she presented her spring 2009 collection at Bryant Park during New York Fashion Week. Her Liberian culture influences her designs, which have served her well. She has gone on to work with celebrities like Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011. She has presented at Africa Fashion Week New York and many other shows. Her talent has been recognized in various publications and media outlets.
Spring 2013 Collection
Any man that loves a well-tailored suit knows that Ozwald Boateng is the man for the job. His suit designs are perfectly detailed and beyond distinguished. His craftsmanship is unmatched and he has an “…iconic contemporary twist, refined fabrics and contemporary silhouettes [that] offer a unique luxury experience to men of all generations.” The English designer of Ghanaian descent has definitely made a name for himself having opened his first store on Vigo Street off of Savile Row in 1994, making him youngest and first black tailor to own a store on the row. And he’s gone on to open a Savile Row House store in 2007, which has grown to more than suits, but shoes, luggage, accessories and more. He has been featured in various publications and is a favorite among celebrities like Jamie Foxx.
Zimbabwean fashion designer Farai Simoyi has an eclectic style that makes her collections so diverse. Hailing from Zimbabwe and having lived in the United States, London, and Italy her collections show her love of travel and culture. She was first exposed to fashion as a child in her aunt’s lingerie company, which led her to study Fashion and Design at West Virginia University, then Milan, Italy and finally New York City. She has since debuted her Spring/Summer 2011 collection at NYC Fashion Week and her collections truly articulate her style, “Soft/Steel/Bohemian.”