Major African cities are increasingly becoming globally influential on the fashion scene, which is not to say however, that African inspired fashion has been non-influential in past years. Recently there has been a heightened emphasis on the use of African prints and textiles in celebrating culture and style. On the local stage, major African cities such as Lagos, Niamey, Accra, Dakar, and Bamako have had emerging fashion scenes, all complete with the African style and infused with the local unique culture. Here we preview more in depth the impact fashion has on these cities.
This major city of over 20 million people by some estimates is the largest commercial hub in Nigeria. Lagos has become a fashion house for West Africa, and indeed for the entire African continent. Lagos makes a very powerful argument for the right to be named the fashion capital of Africa. The products of this hub are uniquely Nigerian, and have quickened the rise of fashion as a staple in this country. In recent years, the successes of the Lagos fashion scene have led to the inevitable introduction of significant events such as the Nigeria Fashion Week, African Fashion Week, and the MTN Lagos Fashion and Design Week. MTN of course is Africans largest telecom operator, and one of the greatest advantages of a fashion partnerships is its reach. MTN brought together multitudes of media outlets, fashion insiders and customers to view the best Lagos had to offer. African Fashion Week is hosted in Lagos as a result of a unique partnership between Arise Magazine, a Nigerian publication on African fashion, and the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week. Prominent fashion designers in this region include Maki Oh, Lanre DaSilva-Ajayi, Lisa Folawiyo, Tsemaye Binitie, Adebayo Oke-Lawal, Tiffany Amber and Samson Soboye.
Niamey is the capital and most populated city in Niger. The advance in African fashion is certainly not lost on Niamey. Niamey has played host several times for the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA). This event is a means to unite African fashion and culture, and to promote the economic and social development of the continent. All manner of arts, crafts, and jewelry are promoted at this time. During the Festival, awards are also given for the best young stylist and top model. The Festival is promoted by UNESCO as a culturally significant world event.
Accra is another major city with substantial contributions to the African fashion scene. Ghana is home to its own staple prints and materials. It is home also to a large number of young designers who are putting a spin onto the traditional Ghanaian designs. FashionistaGH is Ghana’s first online fashion site and YouTube channel which tracks the emerging African fashion scene, specifically in Ghana. The staple fashion event in Accra is the Ghana Fashion & Design Week (GFDW) which has become a definitive international fashion event. The Glitz Africa fashion week is held at the Accra International Conference Center, and features the works of numerous African designers, including those from other parts of the continent.
Dakar is a world famous city, for its places of interests, tourist hotspots, its fashion scene, and a number of years ago, its namesake rally. The city is bright with traditional Senegalese fashions, and the markets are filled with fashions blending African and European designs. To that effect, CNN noted that Dakar had been named the “Capital of Franco-African fashion.” In the summer of 2015, for the 13th installment, the Dakar Fashion Week will be held at the Radisson Blu, Dakar. A number of prominent African designer’s works will be featured including Adama Paris, Khadija Sy, Valentim Quaresmo and many others.
Yet another significant African capital city, Bamako brings its offerings to the African fashion scene. More than just linen and cloth, Bamako offers leather goods, sequins, jewelry and ornaments of rare gems and precious metals. Just like the other mentioned African cities, Bamako is home to its very own fashion week – the Bamako Fashion Week which features foreign and local fashions. Professional designers and models from numerous African countries take part in the show.