African fashion designers are making waves on the international fashion scene. They are choosing to put a modern spin on traditional African fabrics and accessories.
Their well-crafted pieces are in demand all over the world and are favorites of celebrities like Michelle Obama and Lupita Nyong'o. Here are ten of Africa's top designers who are blazing trails on fashion runways all over the world by showcasing the unique prints and accessories found only in Africa.
African Fashion Designers - Top 10
#10 – Poojah Jeshang
The year 2017 makes six years since Poojah Jeshang launched her first collection, Military Power under her Saffron label. Since then she has made a name for herself in the fashion industry and is today one of the top designers in Africa. Cultures and her daily experiences serve as her muse. She creates daring, one of a kind, ready to wear pieces for the ultimate fashionista.
#9 – Sindiso Khumalo
Country: South Africa
What happens when architecture and fashion meet? You get Sindiso Khumalo designs. Khumalo, one of Africa’s leading designers, brings her architectural knowledge and her sewing techniques to the drawing board to create unique artistic designs for the modern African woman. Her Zulu and Ndebele heritage are sources of inspiration for her dynamic and classy pieces. Khumalo pieces are also unique in that she creates sustainable clothing. She hires local South African women to hand sew pieces for her collections. Her work is featured in museums and has been published in Africa: Architecture, Culture, and Identity, Vogue Italia, Vogue UK to name a few.
#8 – Mimi Plange
Fashion designer Mimi Plange says her work is “about establishing a new point of view in luxury by capturing the creativity of ancient African civilizations”. The Ghanaian-born fashion designer launched her label Mimi Plange in 2010. She creates ready to wear designs that tell stories of African folklore and the history of the motherland. We know that Plange is one of the top African fashion designers when ladies like Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Janelle Monae proudly wear her pieces. Just last year she showcased her collections in the Celebration of Design Event hosted by Michelle Obama at the White House.
#7 – Taibo Bacar
Fashion designer Taibo Bacar grew up around sewing machines as his mother was a seamstress. For a time he pursued a career in Business Administration but one day perhaps when the boredom of the office got to him, he left everything behind. He next popped up in Spain studying fashion and the rest they say is history. Taibo Bacar is currently one of the leading designers in Africa. Women all over the world love his well crafted designed designs that pay homage to the female body. Taibo Bacar has been featured in notable fashion publications, has graced runways all over the world and has been the recipient of several fashion awards.
#6 – Lisa Folawiyo, Nigeria
Chic, modern with a hint of tradition and colorful are the words used to describe the designs of the one Lisa Folawiyo. Folawiyo, a Nigerian fashion designer, is the owner of the Jewel by Lisa Group which include her brands Jewel by, The J label, Pretty Precious. Lisa Folawiyo is indeed one of the top designers in Africa. She has features in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Style.com and The New York Times to prove. Celebrities like Lupita Nyong’o and Solange Knowles include her pieces in their wardrobe. Her collections regularly grace the runways of Lagos, Milan, New York and Paris.
#5 – Gavin Rajaj
Country: South Africa
South African Gavin Rajah is the fashion designer with a purpose. Through his design, he shares the stories of millions of children in Africa who suffer diseases prevalent in Africa. With such thought and creativity put into his designs, he is regularly included in Paris Fashion Week line up. The United Nations appointed him as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for his philanthropic work and his mission to improve the lives of millions of children in Africa.
#4 – Amaka Osakwe
Amaka Osakwe is a fashion designer and creator of the brand Maki Oh.The African culture, more specifically the Ghanaian culture influences her designs. Her designs have been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyong’o, Beyonce, Solange, and Rihanna. Her pieces can be identified by the traditional hand dying process called Adira that she uses to apply patterns to her designs. Fashion magazine, ARISE named her Designer of the Year for 2013. Her commendable portfolio places her on the list of the top designers in Africa.
#3 – Thula Sindi
Country: South Africa
Thula Sindi is a South African designer that creates pieces for women. His style is influenced by the culture of South Africa. The aim of his brand is to make fashionable pieces available to modern women at an affordable cost. Fashion aficionados describe his pieces as sophisticated, timeless and elegant. Thula Sindi says his designs aim to "take clichés about African fashion, and find the truth and the beauty in them to make something beautiful and extraordinary out of them". Sindi's pieces are regularly showcased on runways in the fashion capitals of the world.
Aisha Obuobi is the owner of Christie Brown, a fashion brand that designs pieces for the modern African woman. The clothing brand manufactures gowns and accessories that reflect the vibrancy of the African culture. It is the aim of Christie Brown brand to bring a modern twist to traditional African pieces. The Christie Brown label is recognized internationally and has been mentioned in Vogue Italia and Harpers Bazaar. In 2010, the Christie Brown label was the only African label showcased at the Arise L’Afrique-A-Porter in Paris Fashion Week. Obuobi is one of the most celebrated designers in Africa.
#1 – Adama Paris
Adama Paris or Adama Amanda Ndiaye left a promising career in banking to pursue her love for fashion in Senegal. After struggling to establish a successful fashion line, she launched the Dashar Fashion Week Exhibition. She has also hosted a number of Black Fashion week events in fashion capitals over the world. She draws inspiration from the culture of cities all over the world. In a Vogue interview, Adama stated that her aim is to share with all modern women one fashion without borders. Stores and boutiques in London, Paris, New York City and Tokyo carry her pieces.
Another Must Read: Popular African Clothing Brands - Top 10