Fashion Africa Now was initiated to address the then existing inadequate/mis-representation of African Fashion, limited access into the fashion market, lack of diversity, misconception of fashion and inclusion was not the talk at that time. That’s why I created this platform with the aim of establishing a network that focuses on the topic of fashion, identity and raises cultural awareness in order to confront racism and stereotypes. I felt a need of consuming fashion from Africa and the Diaspora and to document the unheard stories, craft techniques of the creative people.
Deutsche Version, siehe weiter unten.
For years African Fashion styles have been used as a source of inspiration for the global market. In recent years there has also been an increased interest in designers of African origin who successfully market their fashion worldwide. The potential is still little used by the European market, but the global luxury industry has long since picked up the scent. Proof of this is the “Luxury Conference” – the international meeting of the industry – which in 2012 focused on Africa and its potential, and the previous conference, which in 2019 took place for the first time, in South Africa. It is high time for a rethink in the industry: a design scene has developed in Africa that is booming! Africa is a huge continent with different artists, styles and scenes. The times of stylistic borrowing are coming to an end and the times of recognition are finally on the way.
The influence of African textiles and the African Fashion movement has had a significant impact on the international fashion landscape, because it deconstructs old ideas of fashion and enables new visions and seeing. I would describe its impact on the fashion world as follows, it is a recurring phenomenon. We live in an ever faster growing global world, which is absolutely digital. I think that the generational change brings a change in the attitude and view of society. In addition, there is the dynamic and technical progress. Although there were already noticeable African Fashion movements in the 90s. At that time, the hip hop movement played an important role for the international fashion industry, a lifestyle was created and defined by the African American community, which led to styles and looks emerging from the movement. Hidden codes were integrated into the different looks to indicate clique or district affiliations, among other things. At that time the high-end fashion scene had no interest in the HipHop clientele. The designers Alphadi and Xuly Bët, who also had their start in the 90s in Europe, are pioneers of this contemporary African Fashion movement; they have implemented the cultural heritage of their origins in their designs. The original impetus and international presence was undoubtedly provided by the Algerian master Yves Saint Laurent in 1967.
The digital age has contributed to the fact that designers of African origin are part of it and not just silent spectators. Furthermore, the borrowing of styles is no longer possible without various consequences. In the meantime, voices have emerged that want to prevent a distortion of the African Style stories and act as advocates. Fashion Africa Now stands for inclusion and diversity in fashion and I think that the movement has gained its aesthetic power and it is important to communicate and convey these aesthetics from an African perspective.
For these reasons, it is necessary to break up old patterns of thought and redefine them. That is why we are Reclaiming the narrative, that means A new generation of African fashion designers are rethinking contemporary “African fashion”. An empowered self-image and a home-grown aesthetic is being presented – challenging and side-stepping (neo)colonial thought patterns and beauty norms.
Therefore our work is the beginning of “Deconstruct Fashion”. To explain it, it means the new interpretation of fashion. A new confrontation, historical and contemporary, led by the African perspective. It is important to understand the origin of African Fashion and the traditional aspects about it in order to interpret in the right way. Here in Europe we have the African Diaspora and an increasing number of people who are growing up with different cultures. This means a still little grasped buyer potential and increasing interest in consuming products that reflect their identity, which redefines the current understanding of the mainstream and gives ethnic fashion a completely new meaning. Sustainable, high-quality fashion for people who are not only at home in one culture. I have consciously explained why it is necessary to „ Deconstruct Fashion“ and I left the „How” out to stimulate further discussions. With our first Business to Business platform, the AFRICA FASHION DAY BERLIN (2013), African designers came together for the first time in Germany – the heart of Europe – as part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Their message in Berlin was clear: we can no longer be overlooked!Photo Credit: Daniel Sery