7 Emerging African Designers You Should Know

Through innovative strides and careful execution these womenswear and menswear designers are changing the way we see African fashion. African fashion and aesthetics are becoming more and more visible in mainstream spaces, yet there are not many African designers at the forefront of these trends. Despite there being little coverage on mainstream platforms and and […]

Through innovative strides and careful execution these womenswear and menswear designers are changing the way we see African fashion.

African fashion and aesthetics are becoming more and more visible in mainstream spaces, yet there are not many African designers at the forefront of these trends. Despite there being little coverage on mainstream platforms and and a lack of investment financially, designers are rising above their circumstances and are using their platforms to shape perceptions of African fashion on the world stage.

African designers both in the continent and abroad are beginning to recognize the importance of collectivity and expressing their truth as a way to set them apart instead of trying to replicate Western formulas. Amongst many of these designers are young individuals,some with formal training and some informal, who saw a gap in the industry. Instead of complaining, these innovators made the conscious effort to fill it in. Although many challenges have presented themselves for these artist, their drive and will to make a difference are propelling the culture as a whole.

Click through to meet some of the people who are designing the future of Africa through fashion:

1. Thebe Magugu

2. Wekafore

3. MAXHOSA BY LADUMA

4. Iamisigo

5. Daily Paper

6. Tongoro

7. Ikiré Jones

1. Thebe Magugu

Thebe Magugu is a young South African designer whose apparel is known for pushing the boundaries of couture, while empowering the women and men who wear his designs. Born in Kimberley, South Africa, Thebe’s first source of inspiration came from the women who played an instrumental role in his life. Although traditionally a womenswear brand, his experimental designs aim to blur the gender lines and create clothing that question social constructs of what it means to be masculine and feminine in African society.

His career truly began at the Lisof Fashion School in Johannesburg where he studied fashion and apparel design while contributing to publications like The Times and Flux Trends. Thebe was also selected for Design Indaba’s Emerging Creatives of 2017 program. His debut collection titled, “Geology,” premiered at South Africa’s fashion week earlier in the year and has since been featured in publications like Vogue. When speaking to Nataal about his inspiration behind the collection he states, “I started to imagine a woman taking to the great outdoors, to escape the burdens and noise of urban living.” While he is only one collection into his career, he has already set the tone for young African designers pushing their brands beyond their immediate borders.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

Photo courtesy of Thebe Magugu.

2. Wekafore

Birthed in May of 2013, Wekafore is a unisex brand that represents the essence of youth subculture in Africa and is shaping a space where conformity is a myth. Founded by designer and creative director Maniu Jibril, the brand takes inspiration from both his Nigerian roots and Dubai upbringing, where he relocated to after a tragic fire in his Lagos home in 2007.

Despite dealing with adversity growing up in Dubai, Jibril used art and design as way to express himself and bring his own ideas to life. His latest collection, “Thank You Florence,” infuses both high-end and streetwear silhouettes with a unique execution and attention to detail. The collection even has a graphic tee that take inspiration from Nollywood films and artists like Jimi Hendrix, which shows the range of influence that has shaped his life. Although this is just the beginning of of Jibril’s journey, his approach to urban African design is shaping a unique lane for himself and opening doors for the future of alternative designers in African.

Photo courtesy of Wekafore.
Photo courtesy of Wekafore.
Photo courtesy of Wekafore.
Photo courtesy of Wekafore.
Photo courtesy of Wekafore.
Photo courtesy of Wekafore.

3. MAXHOSA BY LADUMA

Laduma Ngxokolo is a South African designer that is reinventing African inspired prints for a younger generation to engage with. Through his Cape Town based brand MAXHOSA, Ngxokolo incorporates knitwear designs from his native Xhosa culture as a way to preserve his heritage and share it with the world.

Originally raised in Port Elisabeth, Ngxokolo moved to Cape Town to expand his knowledge on the fashion industry. While the city hustle of Cape Town shaped his brand tremendously, the materials of his clothing stay true to its root and are sourced from his birthplace in Port Elisabeth. Since the launch of MAXHOSA, his clothing can be seen on the covers of magazines like ELLE and on major artists like Jidenna. While many have used African prints as a source of inspiration, few have been able to shape their brands around unique pattern making and still remain authentic like MAXHOSA.

 

 

7. Ikiré Jones

While most people with law degrees don’t pursue a career in fashion, Nigerian designer Walé Oyéjidé had a different plan for his life. With no educational background in menswear or design, Walé decided to take leap of faith and launched his brand Ikiré Jones, named after his father’s village and his wife’s last name. He felt that brands were lacking to speak to fashion-forward men who wanted to stand out and wear authentic designs.

After getting his undergraduate degree at Morehouse College and enrolling into law school in Philly, he met a friend whose brother was a tailor and became an instrumental part in launching his brand. His designs range from jackets to shirts and scarves that display unique patterns inspired by his Nigerian roots and European aristocracy and mythology. While his clothing are all manufactured in England, he takes pride in producing at the highest quality. His story is a prime example that despite what title your degree has, if you have a passion for what you are doing, anything is possible.