The fashion industry is one of the largest and most influential industries in the entire world, which is why changes to its inherent business model must change to better the world. There are two ways this can be achieved, through greater representation of different cultures and backgrounds, and through a greater emphasis on sustainable design and production. Only through both of these strategies can the fashion industry make a significant, positive change in the world.
As Sage reports, Africa is set to become home to some of the world’s most significant economies, with Africa’s fashion industry in particular estimated to be worth $15.5 billion in the next five years. What’s more critical than their booming economy, however, is the innovation that is accompanying their success, which is what makes these fashion designers from around Africa such important figures to watch:
Founders: Wanger Ayu
Sustainability Standpoint: Founded by a lawyer, this brand’s garments are made within Nigeria by artisans, who have been trained by the brand itself. This stance ensures that the women in its employment have key, marketable skills and that production is fair and ethical.
Founders: Kelechi Anyadiegwu
Location: Nigeria Sustainability Standpoint: Zuvaa, based off of the word for sunshine, is one of the key players in Africa’s transforming economy, most notably due to the representation they offer for authentic African designers. It was Anyadiegwu who dreamed of a world where traditional African textiles could be represented within modern fashion. Started in 2014 with only $500, they have now made $2 million in sales and act as the premier destination for high-quality African designs. Zuvaa aims to support “ethically manufactured and produced pieces” as well as representing talented artists in a new light.
Founders: Lisa Folawiyo
Location: Lagos, Nigeria
Sustainability Standpoint: Lisa Folawiyo, another lawyer, is famous for updating the traditional Ankara into beautiful, modern designs. She has done this by incorporating texture into the traditional cloth, allowing for a hybrid design that has become a huge success. Each piece is handcrafted by Folawiyo’s artisans, who hand-embellish each piece in a lengthy 240-hour process. All fabrics are traditional and locally sourced. Recently Lisa Folawiyo has been selected by the Ethical Fashion Initiative as a partner.
Founders: Bushera Bashir
Location: Kashmir, South Africa
Sustainability Standpoint: This brand has sustainability and ethical practice at its core, with all of its cashmere material being sourced locally, and woven and printed on-site by their artisans. Not only does this brand ensure fair wages and safe working conditions for all of its employees, but it also donates a share of its profits towards its employee’s children education.
Africa is home to the world’s largest growing economy. In fact, over half of the world’s population growth is expected to occur in this continent, with an estimated 2.2 billion people being born between now and 2050. This population boom means an increase in middle-class spending, meaning more focus and more industries will emerge in Africa in the coming years. In order to ensure that this leads to as beneficial a change as possible artists and industries must work on becoming representational and sustainable, which means supporting artists that work towards this positive change is critical.