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From East to West: 10 African Designers to Look Out For

Here’s to the many wonders of Africa

When it comes to the abundance of creativity that stems out of the continent of Africa, where do we even begin? The culturally rich and resourcefully dense continent is home to an amalgamation of a unique set of colors, patterns, textiles, and shapes, all stemming from the endless revenues of different histories and cultures that come out of Africa. Each with their own very distinct artistic language the continent offers irresistible creativity, ingenuity, and a burgeoning hunger for innovation that sees its way into the fashion world. 

Now, Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) has situated itself at the heart of the world of art in Africa, bringing together creatives from the continent and diaspora to showcase, exhibit, and network with policymakers, prominent investors, financiers, thought leaders, and other creative sector practitioners. Every year the initiative partners up with Portugal Fashion, the biggest Portuguese fashion event, giving emerging designers from Africa, the Carribeans, and the diaspora a platform to develop by facilitating and supporting their transfer of skills through mentorship programs from industry experts, opening doors for market access opportunities, boosting production, sales, and distribution— initially giving designers the push they need to get the right kind of exposure.  Since the inaugural edition which took place in October 2021, over 60 African designers representing 25 countries from Africa and the diaspora have taken part in the programme. 

What Creative Africa Nexus does for emerging designers is both a beautiful and much-needed effort to not only elevate the industry, but to start inciting new conversations, and changing the fashion narrative that is quite frankly starting to get a little monotonous. The fashion world is desperately in need of new voices, fresh perspectives, representation, and a reminder of what craftsmanship truly is. 

Below, we have compiled a list ten designers that embody just that from all around the continent that you need to familiarize yourself with. 

Orange Culture

The Nigerian label founded by self-taught designer Adebayo Okelawal is a socially conscious brand built on experimentation. On the brand’s website, they state, that “fashion is a movement” that “can and should save lives.” The ready-to-wear label covers universal silhouettes with an African touch to a creative class of people, translating into a heady mixture of Nigerian inspired prints, fabrics, and color that make up its contemporary androgynous clothing. The brand is one to watch with its raw, and striking charisma. 

Awa Meite

Hailing all the way from Mali, Awa Meité is an exquisite textile designer. Her eponymous label constantly strives to provide awareness of the beauty that stems out of the continent. Her previous collection at Portugal Fashion Week provided a beautiful sentiment: “the goal of putting people first no matter the color or race, a continent which has suffered for centuries and is now writing its own narrative and making its voices heard, a continent full of natural and human resources that can benefit its people.”


Founded by Nigerian designer Faith Oluwajimi, if we could describe Bloke in one word, it would certainly be cool. From the lime-green blazers, cozy knits, and organic patterns to the comfortable silhouettes, the ready-to-wear label exudes effortless chic, fully proving that there is beauty in simplicity. 


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Duaba Serwa

The brand, founded by Ghanaian designer Nelly Hagar in 2011, is making powerful strides in the industry. With a focus on intricate fabrications, Duaba Serwa is known for its signature triangular origami pleating. Combining traditional Ghanaian weaving techniques to create tactile textures and cleverly constructed silhouettes, the womenswear brand is opulently keeping historical traditions alive through its work.  


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Ntando XV

Straight out of South Africa, Ntando XV is a menswear label with a functional purpose. Founder Ntando Ngwenya has a keen eye for clean lines, forms, and structures. Conservative in its exterior but traditional in its interior, the brand combines the duality of functionality and design. Doing so, so minimally, the brand is a contemporary gem. 


Olooh Concept

Founded by Kader Diaby Olooh is a Côte d’Ivoire-based ready-to-wear brand that promotes Ivorian tradition and modernity through innovative, well-constructed, and timeless menswear-inspired collections. Dibay specifically looks at Ivorian culture providing a satirical interpretation of the country’s rich untold stories.


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Eric Raisina

Giving us a glimpse into the kaleidoscope of colors found in Madagascar, Eric Raisina’s haute couture label is just as innovative as it is vibrant. Playing around with different textures, Raisina makes his own fabrics with an emphasis on working with all-natural fibers. The designer previously worked with the renowned Parisian brand Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix Haute Couture.     


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David Tlale

Notably one of the most prominent fashion designers to come out of South Africa is David Tale, who aims to offer affordable luxury with his clothing. His designs speak for themselves, but it is worth noting his distinct choices of fabrics and textiles matched with their manipulation and loud color choices, Tale creates the perfect intersection between everyday-wear and glamor. 


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