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FunTimes Magazine

5 Best African Fashion Designers.

Mar 29, 2022 05:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian

African designers have long been cast in the shadow of their more visible European colleagues, often victims of cultural appropriation, Western exploitation, and outright design theft. While there is still work to be done, there has been a modest but constant flood of platforms aimed at showcasing these talents to a broader audience. As Africa's creative industry expands, Lagos and Johannesburg compete to become the continent's fashion capital, while old crafts are being resurrected and utilized to commemorate culture and history via finely crafted clothing. African fashion nowadays is best defined as eclectic, unique, and courageous. African designers broke fresh ground in 2020, reaching astounding new heights of innovation and originality. Some of the world's most prestigious periodicals, including Vogue and Forbes, ran in-depth profiles on African designers. The diversity movement sparked a worldwide campaign for the acknowledgment of a broader variety of cultural contributions, and African fashion took an extraordinary leap into the limelight. With Africa being such a strong force in the global fashion business, here are 5 of the top African designers to keep an eye on.


MaXhosa's modernist knitwear, at the vanguard of South Africa's burgeoning fashion industry, has graced the catwalks of New York Fashion Week, hung on the racks of Bloomingdale's, and had knitwear pieces featured in the Big Apple's Museum of Modern Art. African workmanship is honored as fiercely as designer Laduma Ngxokolo's ancestry. Everything - from colored textiles to avant-garde headgear - is made in-house, with the majority of clothes knitted in South African mohair and merino wool. A ceremonial motif pervades his current collection, which includes cable-knit sweaters with complicated designs in the colors of the South African flag and sport-luxe silk tracksuits with geometric patterns and futuristic geometries.

Figure 1 - Clothing of MaXhosa. Source - Google

Rich Mnisi

Rich Mnisi is a pioneer for South Africa's LGBTQ population, and he isn't afraid to experiment with clashing colors. His runway designs seem as much like well-tailored clothes as they do like contemporary artworks, and he has received several awards for his work. Design elements such as pared-back prints and conflicting color palettes a la Andy Warhol are included in the collection. Suits with Coca-Cola prints and pink and green zebra co-ords are among the options. In fact, his newly launched Azania accessories line has a resemblance to Jacquemus's aesthetic, with the rust-colored purse with ostrich feather accent swiftly becoming our summer go-to.

Figure 2 - Clothing of Rich Mnisi. Source - Pinterest.

Read about streetwear in Ghana:
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Orange Culture

Adebayo Oke-Lawal is a self-taught designer based in Lagos, Nigeria, who utilizes his designer brand, Orange Culture, to challenge macho Nigerian stereotypes and blur the borders between genders. Diverse, androgynous silhouettes in the form of linen tunics, silk kimonos, and well-cut suits in stripes, shimmery satins, and unapologetically bright color palettes such as neon oranges and lime greens are prominent in his collections, as are unabashedly bold color palettes such as neon orange and lime green. Knitted lime-green crocheted battle vests give Oke-garments Lawal's a gritty, streetwear edge, yet traditionally feminine forms are employed to symbolize freedom.

Figure 3 - Clothing of Orange Culture. Source - Google


Priya Ahluwalia founded Ahluwalia by combining her Nigerian-Indian roots with London's garage music culture. Despite its youth, the brand is already building a name for itself in the fashion world. Priya studied menswear at The University of Westminster and earned the coveted H&M Design Award. In 2020, she was named one of Forbes' 30 under 30 in European Arts and Culture, and she received the LVMH Prize among seven other rising brands. Ahluwalia has also been named one of Matches Fashion's Innovators and has received backing from Gucci. Ahluwalia combines contemporary forms with traditional patterns. Her creative, ecological design approach guarantees that all items are made from deadstock materials, giving worn textiles a new lease of life and minimizing needless waste. Whether it's swirling 70s designs or throwback athleisure shapes, each collection pays homage to nostalgia.

Figure 4 - Clothing of Ahluwalia. Source - Google

Read about more ecological fashion design:

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Thebe Magugu

Thebe Magugu, the South African designer with the Midas touch, led by example in 2019. He received the LVMH Prize and was named GQ SA's Rising Star of 2019. His aim to promote the beauty of Africa's fashion sector is already a resounding success. Magugu, known for her aggressive feminine designs, should be on your radar for 2021. Adut Kech, the supermodel, modeled for the September 2019 edition of British Vogue. In addition, Magugu produced a capsule collection on 24 Sèvres. Overall, 2019 was the year Thebe Magugu rose to prominence, and he's just getting started.

 Figure 5 - Clothing of Thebe Magugu. Source- Google

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

Read more from Anand Subramanaian:

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