While Team SPICE is thinking ‘Tribes’ this month, it’s a no brainer that we’d consider the continent’s most talented troupe of rising stars – the new crop of designers repping their African roots.
Yes, we do love us some fresh fashion blood here at SPICE, and these young creatives are shining a new light on Africa while carrying a torch lit with the fire of its vast, incomparable culture.
Just see our list of the 10 names to know, here…
1. Orange Culture’s Adebayo Oke-Lawal
It’s rare we’d compile a list of top anything in African design and not include our boy, Adebayo Oke-Lawal – but then, with his recent nods from the international fashion scene (his LVMH prize nomination and selection to showcase at Milan’s Pitti Uomo) have left him on many such lists around the globe, too, so the feeling on his label, Orange Culture, is definitely world-mutual.
Bringing the type of menswear you’d find comfortably hanging on the rails of any top department store in any fashion capital, Mr Oke-Lawal keeps it real, emotional and personal with his garments; his recently revealed Spring/Summer’16 collection crafted on the memory of fishermen he’d spy under the Third Mainland Bridge in his hometown of Lagos – the collection described by the tastemaker as “androgynous, light, sensual and Nigerian.”
We dig this and everything he’s shared so far, so needless to say his is a name for your radar.
2. Loza Maléombho
Brazil-born, Ivory Coast-raised designer, Loza Maleombho is a true creative in that her ideas seem to pour out not just through her clothes, but via other outlets too, like selfies – her recent “Alien Edits” series seeing a great many self portraits taken and shared via Instagram, showing Loza’s head dressed with varying items including flowers and a cobra.
But, on her garments specifically, the talent wows with her Côte d’Ivoire-produced womenswear (sold via her self-named label) that kicks all sorts of ass and pleases both lovers of the traditional wax print and the new era Insta baes who like to slay in mis-matched, pattern-clashing separates, and the type of textures (ruffles, mesh, satin, you name it) we’d all love to pull off in one outfit.
And did we mention she designs footwear and gold-plated jewels? Find her Spring/Summer’15 lookbook here and tell us you don’t agree that Ms Maleombho is an asset to the new Africa movement… Then, shop her new collection here.
3. Iamisigo’s Bubu Ogisi
If you don’t know by now, Bubu Ogisi be killing it in fashion right now – from her day job as a top stylist and fashion consultant to the stars, to her work as the brain behind cool kid label, Iamisigo.
For this season, the brand’s “Taboo” collection left us thirsty and in love with its heavy inspirations from the Wodaabe nomadic tribe. Jump into what’s next via the recently revealed lookbook for Autumn/Winter’15, and the talent is showcasing all sorts of moreish things inspired by her youth in Nigeria.
Ms Ogisi’s continued inspirations from Africa aside, its her way with shape and colour that has us hooked; the way everything she does seems to scream a new growth of her native’s vibrant fashion scene – one to championed by her jet-set, international-ready friends (like the aforementioned Mr Oke-Lawal) too.
Oh and did you know the bright young thing now dabbles in furniture? You should see more on that, just here.
4. Studio 1981’s Nana K. Brenu
Founded by Nana K. Brenu in 2012, Studio 1981 bridges the gap between Brenu’s proudly Ghanaian heritage and his European experiences – the designer currently being based in the Italian fashion capital, Milan.
Crafting finely-tuned, minimalist silhouettes with an appeal akin to that of his Italian surroundings (the country well-known for its smooth tailoring), the creative employs palette and print that recalls those of Ghana’s bustling population – the combination of which brings a unique merging of two cultures into garments that any fashion lover would kill for.
The brand’s 2015 “Edition 2” collection tells us that prints in moderation, plus a palette of light blue, lilac and pink are ‘in,’ and that if you’ve not yet got to know Nana K. Brenu, you should definitely check him out.
5. Kenneth Ize’s Kenneth Izedonmwen
Nigerian menswear great, Kenneth Izedonmwen creates brilliant pieces for guys who have their wits about them when it comes to quality and a laid-back fit, with most of his collections so far, following his arrival on our radar in 2013, being about roomy garments that layer interestingly together.
His Spring/Summer’15 “Bio Phase IV” range saw men and women on the ramp, wearing pieces inspired by highlife society in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and “how the people from these decades were westernised but still very African.”
Fast-forward to the images he’s been sharing lately via Instagram (a Spring/Summer’16 lookbook, we’re hoping) and he’s still on keeping guys comfortable yet fly, in colours and styles that sing that sweet new era African song loudly.
So many reasons to love the Kenneth Ize brand and so many things we want for our wardrobes.
6. Ominis’ Tamu Thomas
Sierra Leonean designer Tamu Thomas launched Kenema in 2012 and practiced fair trade to produce her wears in her native country, incorporating batik and tie dye to her collections via traditional African techniques – so one can see that the continent was never far from the designer’s thoughts.
In fact, the streewear label, Kenema was named after the third biggest city in Sierra Leone, with the talent once telling;
“The citizens of Kenema carry themselves with such courage and resilience. I want my brand to represent that beauty, strength and tenacity in all of the people.”
Now though, still fusing her celebration of quintessential African flavour with a London twist (the designer’s current home), Ms Thomas has launched new label, Ominis London, with the Spring/Summer’15 “Duality” collection including Kente fabric and exploring both sides of her cultural experiences.
Choosing to name her pieces with popular African names like “Ayo” and “Nenna,” the continent remains close to Ms Thomas’ heart – but with Fabulous Magazine and Marie Claire having already picked their favourites, you’d best head to Ominis’ online store here quicktime if you want to get to know them yourself.
7. U.Mi-1’s Gozi Ochonogor
Gozi Ochonogor, who founded her label U.Mi-1 to transmit her appreciation for her three homes: Japan, the UK and Nigeria, is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to menswear – hers being a combination of the best of her three worlds.
Carrying UK vibes via materials, Japan’s through her minimal-chic and unique twists on tailoring, and Nigeria’s via the style of her garments, Ms Ochonogor produces seasonal collections that we can’t help but admire; the sort of things that are classic and could slide into any wardrobe.
The label’s Spring/Summer’16 collection is a celebration of the Eyo masquerades of Lagos’ Nigerian festival, which escort the soul of a departed Lagos King or Chief and usher in the new ones. The pieces reflect the fluidity and movement of the dancers, with linen and cotton fabrics making up a loose silhouette and ultimately telling of the designer’s love of depicting Africa.
We at SPICE admire the craftsmanship and the commitment to telling the continent’s tales, but check the brand out here and tell us what you think.
8. A.A.K.S’ Akosua Afriyie-Kumi
Ghana-based label, A.A.K.S specialises in handcrafted creations that should accompany any outfit formed for attention, with designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi making the sort of bags that may well stop traffic.
The brand celebrates the traditional weaving techniques used by her artisans in Ghana, but more than just selling beautifully-finished goods that are handmade in Bolgatanga, the label also helps create sustainable jobs within Africa.
Already a hit with the fash pack, Ms Afriyie-Kumi has recently been shortlisted as an emerging designer from Africa by Vogue Italia and now stocks her bag collection in Anthropologie, so it seems that the talent is repping her roots on the international stage with only more brilliant things to come.
9. Oath’s Rich Mnisi
So Oath (a men’s and womenswear label based in South Africa) clearly gets us – us, and everyone else who like brave, bold fashion that vibes on a wave of its own.
Designed by Rich Mnisi, who launched his brand just last year in 2014 and went on to receive two important titles – the winner of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Joburg AFI Fastrack award, and AFI Young Designer of the Year award at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa – the label is a perfect representation of young Africa now; bubbling with brilliance, fearlessness and innate sense of what to do when it comes to colour and print.
Having brought a sense of ‘fresh’ to both his Autumn/Wintre’15 men’s and womenswear ranges, and an injection of fierce fun to his Pre-Fall’15 too, Mr Mnisi started his brand on a high and seems only to be climbing higher still – but always with a sense of his Jo’Burg roots at the essence of his designs, which might well be the je ne sais quoi that keeps us seeking more Mnisi.
10. Maxhosa by Laduma’s Laduma Ngxokolo
South African creative, Laduma Ngxokolo launched his label in 2010 and has gone on to be considered the finest African knitwear designer and innovator, with his Xhosa-inspired garments for men and women.
Using South African mohair and wool, the talent began the brand to find knitwear design solutions that would be suitable for the Amakrwala traditional dress, and achieved not just that but a place in the heart of many who’ve come across this work.
Still studying his craft following his 2014 win of the WeTransfer Scholarship prize, which he’s used to secure a place on London’s Central St Martins’ Masters programme in Materials Future, Mr Ngxokolo has also recently been awarded Vogue Italia’s 2015 Scouting for Africa prize to showcase his collection during Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week (see him in our edit of the runway here) – solid proof that he and his label are part of the pattern of young Africans repping their roots worldwide.
But did we miss someone from our list? Do tell us your own favourite new African designers to watch in the comments box below or online @SPICETVAFRICA.
Image source: Oathrm.com, Studio1981.com, Elle.co.za, Mbfashionweek.com, Superbalist.com, Aaksonline.com, @A.a.k.s, 10and5.com