Africa’s fashion industry accounts for a small portion of the $1.5 trillion global industry according to a Euro Monitor report, however the continent has a good story to tell.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s apparel and footwear market is reportedly worth $31 billion, and the sector continues to show growth.
“The global demand and discussions on African inspired clothing has led to a tremendous boost in sales for some African designers and brands,” writes Mfonobong Nsehe in an article for Forbes.
It’s therefore no surprise that African fashion brands are gaining international attention, from labels like Nigeria’s Ikiré Jones and Kenyan accessories brands Adele Dejak and Ami Doshi, to South Africa’s MaXhosa by Laduma.
Ghanaian brand Kisua, founded by Sam Mensah has, since its launch in 2013, been a forerunner in driving the African fashion movement.
Kisua is also one of the continent’s leading fashion e-commerce brands and counts the likes of Beyonce Knowles, Estelle, and Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie as fans.
Many of these labels are also establishing themselves as international brands. For example, in 2015 50 percent of Kisua’s sales were outside of Africa, with Europe being its biggest market, according to a True Africa article.
It is however, not the only brand to gain international acclaim with the likes of Emma Watson and Michelle Obama also choosing to don items from many other African designers.
An industry on the rise – Here are some of the brands doing Africa proud as worn by African and international celebrities.
1. PICHULIK, South Africa – Emma Watson (British actress) Solange Knowles (US singer)
Pichulik is a Cape Town-based accessories range designed by Katherine Mary Pichulik. The accessories are made from manufactured ropes, beads, and other unique materials.
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2. LISA FOLAWIYO, Nigeria – Issa Rae (US actress), Rosario Dawson (US actress) and Tamu McPherson (international influencer)
In 2016 Vogue magazine described Lisa Folawiyo as one of the new leaders of Nigeria’s fashion movement. The brand that she launched in 2005 is well known for its use of “traditional West African fabrics with modern tailoring and beaded embellishments,” according to a Business of Fashion profile.
Her designs are available in the UK, the US, South Africa and Nigeria, with showrooms in both Nigeria and New York.
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2. KHOSI NKOSI, South Africa – Lupita Nyong’o (Kenyan actress) and Nomzamo Mbatha (SA actress)
The Khosi Nkosi brand has been described as a fusion of traditional and modern. Their designs are also available in retail – they are sold in selected YDE stores in South Africa.
Mara BossLadies it is Woman Crush Wednesday. ?? @lupitanyongo wearing the #KhosiNkosi Xhosa Dress to her film screening in NYC. ???❤️ #ProudlySA #MadeInSouthAfrica #Traditional #FashionWeek #KhosiNkosi #Gratitude #LookAtGod #GodBafwethu #YDE #AfricanFashion
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3. DAVID TLALE, South Africa – Kirk Franklin (US musician), Minnie Dlamini (SA TV personality and model) and Tina Knowles (US businesswoman)
Tlale is one of the most recognisable faces in the South African fashion industry. He has been running the successful design brand with studios in both Cape Town and Johannesburg for more than 14 years, and has done collaborations with major retailers like Edgars, LEGIT and underwear brand Jockey.
Maki Oh is a Nigerian women’s fashion brand by Amaka Osakwe. The brand was launched in 2010. Osakwe has a BA in fashion studies from Arts University Bournemouth in the UK and was a finalist for the LVMH Prize, a prestigious global award celebrating young designers.
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5. CASPER BOSMAN, South Africa – Pearl Thusi (SA actress)
Bloemfontein-born Casper Bosman has been an evening wear and wedding gown designer for 10 years. Aside from Pearl Thusi, Bosman has also dressed other well-known personalities like former Miss World and Miss South Africa, Rolene Strauss.
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Gert Johan Coetzee launched his own fashion label in 2010 at the age of 22. He is considered one of South Africa’s most successful designers. The Johannesburg-based fashion brand specialises in evening wear and wedding gowns.
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7. Kisua, Ghana – Beyonce and Terry Pheto (SA actress)
Kisua is one of the continent’s leading African inspired fashion brands, showcasing the continent’s creative and design talent. The portal features the work of designers from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo.