Although 2020 has been quite a tumultuous year for fashion industries across the world, African fashion brands helped maintain some level of excitement through various innovative endeavors. From promoting the essence of diversity to showcasing the continent’s talent in the most creative ways possible––think Hanifa’s 3D runway experience, many African fashion brands defied the odds and proved their tenacity in a truly trying year.
From Nigeria to South Africa, many of the continent’s emerging and established fashion brands made the best of limitations within a pandemic by establishing a relationship of reliability with their audience. With intricate details, rich fabrics, unpredictable color palettes, and prints, their unique creativity came alive in both comfort and high fashion designs.
Even more refreshing, the industry was highly recognized through multiple endorsements from top international celebrities, the most revered being Beyoncé in the phenomenal Black Is King movie. From Congo to Senegal, Ghana to Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia, African fashion brands showed up and showed out in 2020!
If you’re looking for labels to watch out for and support in the new year, we’ve got you covered with a list––in no particular order––that features a diverse class of designers for every style personality.
Check out 23 African fashion brands to watch in 2021…
#1. Hanifa – Congo
Inspired by a woman’s journey to a life without limits, Hanifa was created. Utilizing captivating designs, bold colors and unique textures, the brand’s feminine designs illuminate natural curves. Featuring Ready-To-Wear collections for women sizes 0 – 20, Hanifa holds true to providing luxurious pieces for all women, at every turn of her lifestyle.
#2. Kenneth Ize – Nigeria
Kenneth Ize focuses on reinterpreting examples of Nigerian craft to create an original perspective on luxury production within textile and fashion. The brand supports a small community of weavers and works directly with a variety of artisan and design groups across Nigeria. The label is devoted to the long-established traditions of Nigerian craft and local artisanship, merging a new design aesthetic with a specifically local handcraft practice. There is the strong belief that in exploring and nurturing existing cultures, one opens up an exciting territory for creating and inspiring future traditions.
#3. Tongoro – Senegal
Tongoro is a brand that focuses on understanding the fashion that their customers want by offering playful and unique apparel. The brand sources its materials on the continent and works with local tailors, with a long-term goal of creating a new dynamic for Africa-based manufacturing, and foster the economic and social development of artisanal workers in Western Africa.
#4. Jermaine Bleu – Ghana
Jermaine Bleu is a Ghanaian fashion brand, that presents an array of edgy yet modern looks. And individual pieces that tell a visual story of modern African culture features high slits, unique patterns, bold colors, pleats on flared pants, and more.
#5. Kai Collective – Nigeria
With a deep passion for women and equality, KAI seeks to create clothing for multi-dimensional women who embrace their feminity in all its various forms. Through clothing, the brand communicates with women and inspire that extra dose of confidence.
#6. Thebe Magugu – South Africa
Between pillar practices of cultural honor, novelty, and uncompromising quality, Thebe Magugu is establishing an identity marked by self-evolving timelessness. The brand constantly seeks new ways of presenting women and men with clothing that embraces and enhances their everyday experience. Sleek, forward-looking design intersects with motifs and details that draw from the continent’s storied past, complex present, and exciting imagined futures, providing smart, multifaceted clothes that mirror the inspiring qualities of the people they are made for.
#7. Lisou – Tanzania
The Lisou brand makes collections full of wearable, classic shapes with a modern twist and are made from the finest silks. All prints are designed in-house by the founder, which makes every Lisou print exclusive. One of the brand’s core beliefs is to make a positive global impact; to that end, the brand donates the proceeds from one piece per collection directly to helping young Africans with medical and educational needs.
#8. Mazelle Studio – Nigeria
The brand’s signature use of Adire mix and sharp silhouettes are oftentimes met with sequins, shimmer, femme-inspired fabric, and clever use of embellishments delicately hand-beaded unto quality fabrics. Every season Mazelle Studio elevates the dialogue around African luxury womenswear through experimental design and storytelling.
#9. Dina Shaker – Egypt
The label’s aesthetic can best be described as transitionary, asymmetric, and oversized. All due to a well thought out plan to reflect the brand’s ideal customer: strong, self-confident, and fearless. The Dina Shaker woman is powerful, she stands out from the crowd and follows the beat of her own drums, but most importantly, she oozes confidence.
#10. Ahluwalia – Indian-Nigerian
Ahluwalia, an eponymous label, combines elements from its founder’s dual Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots and explores the potential of vintage and deadstock clothing by giving existing textiles and traditional techniques a new life. The unique design process includes photographing the founder’s research as well as re-considering a traditional men’s wardrobe through working with responsible sourcing and manufacturing techniques.
#11. Clan – Nigeria
Know as a premium ready-to-wear brand, Clan specializes in the needle-crafting of minimalist and distinct cosmopolitan pieces through the use of authentic techniques.
#12. Loza Maléombho – Ivory Coast
Loza Maléombho is best described as a fusion between traditional cultures/ sub-cultures and contemporary fashion. Loza Maléombho bridges Ivorian traditions with modern fashion: the silhouettes celebrate the paradox of the old and new, cultural and futuristic. More specifically, Loza Maléombho experiments with the synergies between Ivorian tribal aesthetics and New York City’s urban fashion.
#13. Steve French – Ghana
Steve French is a contemporary womenswear designer who honors traditions to create new artistic expressions with clothing while drawing from the female form and abstract patterns in particular—think lots of feminine gowns and skirts, done in vibrant colors and artful prints that are deep-rooted in the Ghanaian culture.
#14. Lukhanyo Mdingi – South Africa
Adhering to a mindful approach to design the label collaborates with select artisans that source and create unique textiles, allowing all those involved to understand the essence of each step of the design process from start to finish.
#15. Lemlem – Ethiopia
Lemlem is an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s, children’s, and home goods made entirely in Africa. The brand was launched following inspiration from a group of traditional weavers who no longer had a market for their craft. Lemlem is committed to elevating artisanship with women at the heart of the brand.
#16. New Tangier – Morroco
The brand is aiming to revive hundred-year-old traditional Moroccan crafts in a contemporary, luxurious, and sustainable manner. From hand studded brocade clutches to vintage silk velvet totes and calfskin cross-body satchels, the label’s range was initially limited to accessories, all handcrafted by local master artisans.
#17. Ibilola Ogundipe – Nigeria
Ibilola Ogundipe is a woman’s clothing brand that creates sophisticated and functional pieces to fit every body type. With an array of bold and rare colors as well as premium fabrics, the brand oozes luxury, but at an affordable price. You’re bound to feel sexy and confident in an Ibilola Ogundipe piece.
#18. Ibrahim Fernandez – Côte d’Ivoire
The eponymous brand is a real revolution in the fashion world with creations in delicate colors always associated with the most refined taste, for a cosmopolitan clientele. From simple and casual to cocktail outfits, to the extreme elegance of modern parties, to the strict codes of the bureaucratic sphere, the brand has designs to cover all.
#19. Ré Lagos – Nigeria
Ré Lagos sets off to realize the holistic beauty of the modern woman through the amalgamation of global and African sensibilities. The brand is a veritable representation of African artisanal craftsmanship which has gained attention for its beauty and eccentricity whilst being made for the modern African by the modern African.
#20. Moshions – Rwanda
Moshions bridges the past with the future to unleash the creative potential of the present. The brand reimagines the eclectic visual heritage of Africa through innovative and artful elevation, contemporary luxury apparel, and accessories for a global audience. They are inspired by and dedicated to local craftsmanship and artisanry shown by collaborating with local and continental suppliers to empower a new generation of creatives.
#21. Weiz Dhurm Franklyn – Nigeria
The Weiz Dhurm Franklyn brand is a women’s fashion brand that creates a blend of African heritage with a modern elegant twist. Each collection and design is carefully crafted to give the ultimate elegance experience to the Weiz Dhurm Franklyn Woman. The brand creates daring designs that possess the right amount of both a subtle sultriness and classic sophistication.
#22. Muyishime – Kenya
This is a brand that loves to experiment with volume, silhouette sculpting, and draping. The brand also produces elegant pieces that are gender fluid and size-inclusive while striving to be sustainable by using every piece of fabric bought, in that the scraps are used to make bags.
#23. Fruché – Nigeria
Fruché is a contemporary fashion brand that aims to explore rich, historical, futuristic, and modern progressive stories that challenge the notion that Nigeran/African women and men are expected to look and dress a certain way. The brand is a mix of traditional Nigerian culture, heritage, artisanal techniques, and contemporary design while embodying a unique sensibility that seamlessly combines an outspoken narrative and a bold sensuality that is luxuriously modern.
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A fashion enthusiast with a hunger for storytelling and a fierce Anna Wintour in the making. At Style Rave, we aim to inspire our readers by providing engaging content to not just entertain but to inform and empower you as you ASPIRE to become more stylish, live smarter and be healthier. Follow us on Instagram @StyleRave_ ♥