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9 exciting African fashion brands to know about now

Image: @lukhanyomdingi/Instagram
Image: @lukhanyomdingi/Instagram

British Vogue’s February 2022 issue sees African models Adut Akech, Anok Yai, Majesty Amare, Amar Akway, Janet Jumbo, Maty Fall, Nyagua Ruea, Abény Nhial and Akon Changkou grace two magnificent covers, captured by Rafael Pavarotti. While these powerful young women have risen to prominence in the modelling world, a fresh crop of talented African designers are also making their presence felt in the industry.

From Orange Culture’s effortlessly cool androgynous offering, to Vivendii’s afro-futuristic style codes and Adeju Thompson’s innovative direction of Lagos Space Programme, it’s hard to keep up with the emerging creatives of the moment. Get to know nine of the exciting African talents changing the fashion landscape.

Sindiso Khumalo

Need to know: Not only does Cape Town-based designer Sindiso Khumalo have a flair for a feminine silhouette, she also champions eco-conscious practices – all of which led to her becoming a joint winner of the 2020 LVMH Prize. Inspired by her Zulu and Ndebele heritage, the Central Saint Martins alum creates beautifully crafted modern separates, adorned with confectionery prints.

Invest now: The signature prairie dresses are a summer staple.

Bloke

Need to know: Nigerian-born designer Faith Oluwajimi has a knack for bridging the gap between contemporary design and handicraft. As well as working closely with artisans in his native country, the designer sources materials locally in order to concoct androgynous garments that are as textured as they are perfectly cut.

Invest now: The exquisite handcrafted cardigan is a versatile wardrobe investment.

Lagos Space Programme

Need to know: Having already shown their autumn/winter 2021 collection on schedule at Milan Fashion Week last year, non-binary Lagos-born designer Adeju Thompson has certainly been making waves on the fashion scene. Exploring notions of gender in African society – a controversial subject in a predominantly conservative environment – Lagos Space Programme pushes the boundaries with its innovative and meticulously constructed creations.

Invest now: Elevate any look to avant-garde new heights with an asymmetrical vest.

Vivendii

Need to know: An affinity for afro-futuristic aesthetics and streetwear brought Jimmy Ayeni, Ola Badiru and Anthony Oye together. The trio – who all studied in Nigeria – began to pique the interest of fashion industry pioneers globally when they started documenting London life with their work. The trailblazers have earned co-signs from Roberto Cavalli and Virgil Abloh (they teamed up with the late designer to create an Off-White football T-shirt for Nike), and have created several sold-out youthful collections.

Invest now: The vegan leather tie-dye bag is a timeless wardrobe staple.

Oluwafeyitimi

Need to know: Being raised between Lagos and the UK informs Oluwafeyitimi’s avant-garde pieces. The Polimoda alum centred his graduate collection around gender norms, particularly focusing on the concept of the school uniform. Brimming with extreme blazers, bulbous trousers and a whimsical crop top/scarf hybrid, the Nigerian designer’s colourful collection intrigues.

Invest now: Oluwafeyitimi’s exaggerated cropped blazer is a key piece.

Tolu Coker

Need to know: Tolu Coker’s ascent in fashion has been lightning fast. Since completing her design and textile course at Central St Martins in 2017 and starting her eponymous line, the British-Nigerian multidisciplinary artist has continued to fashion head-turning pieces by exploring Black diasporic identity and craftsmanship. Her innovative denim-focused autumn/winter 2021 line cleverly fused denim with patterns created with yarn.

Invest now: The sharply tailored wool and denim suit is a sublime day-to-night option.

Fruché

Need to know: Fruché’s collections are a riot of pattern, colour and cleverly-crafted fabrications. Made in Nigeria using artisanal techniques, each piece fuses traditional Nigerian culture and contemporary boldness. Founder Frank Aghuno champions slow fashion, focusing on quality and timeless designs that are made to last.

Invest now: The tasselled silk blouse is made for a night out.

Orange Culture

Need to know: Orange Culture goes beyond the parameters of a fashion brand to describe itself as a “movement”. Founder Adebayo Oke-Lawal’s effortlessly cool, androgynous offering is refreshingly bright: classic silhouettes are injected with an “African touch” via zingy prints and colours. Keeping things local is at the heart of Orange Culture’s ethos – garments are manufactured in Lagos, using ethically-sourced fabrics provided by local makers.

Invest now: Opt for the delicate mesh Dad long-sleeve.

Lukhanyo Mdingi

Need to know: For Lukhanyo Mdingi, the devil is in the details. The use of texture sets Mdingi apart – look out for tassels, jacquard and plenty of fuzz. The Cape Town-based designer’s intricate knitwear has become particularly popular; unique for his attention to quality and finish. Collaboration has also been central to the designer’s success: Mdingi works with artisans and local communities to bring his pieces to life.

Invest now: Mdingi’s fringed metallic knitted dress is guaranteed to turn heads.

This article was originally published on Vogue UK.

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