African fashion has gone global with emerging designers on the rise, breaking boundaries by combining their African roots with contemporary trends. Globetrotter's own Vane Karolle investigates the rising excellence of ten up and coming fashion epicenters from the continent.
This ethical minimalist label is brainchild of Austrian Native Shetu Bimpong and Nigeria’s Amy Akudo Iheakanwa. With its contemporary aesthetics, each piece from the brand is original, timeless and meaningful in its own way. Beyond a fashion label, Shekudo aims to create a sisterhood, fostering women's empowerment and development.
Bantu Wax (South Africa, Dakar, Taghazout Bay)
Whether you’re a surfer who aspiring to the Californian dream or you just enjoy soaking up the sun, Bantu Wax is the way to go. Founded by the American-Ethiopian designer Yodit Eklund, the brand reflects and services the surf culture imbibed by Eklund from her childhood days. A sustainable swimwear marque, Bantu is inspired by African wax printed fabrics and designed to be functional as well as trendy.
Waffles ‘n’ Cream (Nigeria)
Think Supreme, Think Vetements, Think OffWhite. But here, it’s all African-inspired. Waffles ‘n’ Cream is a Lagos-based subcultural collective consisting of skateboarders, BMX riders, graffiti artists, photographers and more with an expansion that connects the label to streetwear. Founded in 2012, the Nigerian brand uses urban pieces as a medium of representation for the average African. From signature staples like the ankara pants and saint button-ups, Waffles ‘n’ Cream is worth the know.
SELFI (South Africa)
Following her degree in Fashion Design from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (an institution known to have produced some of South Africa's best emerging designers), Celeste Lee Arendse launched the affordable womenswear line, SELFI, in 2009. The brand’s use of digital prints, elements of play and reconstructed silhouettes will make you wish for every piece.
Thebe Magugu (South Africa)
Thebe Magugu’s modern, minimal and conceptual aesthetic holds instant sartorial appeal. With a focus on womenswear, Magugu’s pieces explore the disparity between masculinity and femininity, tradition and experiment. Minimalists will swoon.
Sofia El Arabi of the Casablanca-based label Bakchic chases the perfect balance of modernism and the rigor of traditional, "oriental" know-how. If your taste in fashion tilts to laid-back chic with an edge, Bakchic is the way to go. Each piece embodies a vulnerable, honest, quirky, and peculiar feel with intentional hints of the designer’s background.
Mille Collines (Rwanda)
If the name sounds familiar, it's because the brand has garnered a solid fan base on the continent and beyond. Born in Kigali, Rwanda from two Spanish designers, Marc Oliver and Inés Cuatrecasas, the brand favors the spurning of traditional African aesthetics, drawing from natural, softer elements like the desert and savannah landscapes. It incorporates the African heritage, but Mille Collines pieces are made wearable for an international audience with soft and easy silhouettes, making them comfortable and well suited to the world traveller.
Awale Studio (Cote d'Ivoire)
AWL Studio is an Ivorian minimalist brand oriented towards utilitarianism with minimalist pieces made from local materials. Creative Director Jad Fardon assures that each piece is functional and well-crafted, embodying the brand's minimal distinctiveness with comfort as priority. The unisex pieces lend a "feel-at-home wherever you find yourself" kind of experience - created to feel just like a second skin.
A self-proclaimed democratic and sustainable couture brand, Mago is a synthesis of African fabrics and structured Italian designs. Founded in 2006, the Zanzibar-based brand sees colorful and unpredicted patterns. The brand’s appeal can partly be attributed to its sense of uniqueness: each piece is sewn by hand and dyed with natural pigments and as a result, cannot be mass-produced. If you seek distinctiveness, this is for you.
Sole Rebels (Ethiopia)
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu started the eco-friendly shoe label SoleRebels with her husband and brother in her native village of Zenebework, Ethiopia with the aim of creating jobs. The brand’s shoes are made of eco-sensible materials; hand-spun and hand-loomed organic cotton fabrics and used tires formed into soles. Alemu believes her company can be emulated by others and help foster inclusive, sustainable development in Ethiopia.