It’s been a long time coming for AFI Privé, a brand that has taken much planning and patience to finally become a reality.
In a rare move by an events company, African Fashion International (AFI) finally unveiled its in-house brand – AFI Privé – at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg (MBFWJ), this Thursday, 18th of August.
AFI Privé successfully took up artistic residency on the runway, as it revealed its opening collection this season.
Titled Under the African Sun, the collection was inspired by the harsh, dry, and sun-streaked landscapes of Africa, designed for its intrepid and cultured wearer.
“The collection offers classical, translatable pieces to suit a woman of any age. Our woman is well-travelled, informed, and proud of her Pan-African roots,” says AFI Privé Designer, Tayla Nguskos.
“Our woman is well-travelled, informed, and proud of her Pan-African roots.”
The dynamic design duo behind AFI’s in-house brand, Chesney Williams and Tayla Nguskos, were two of the top three finalists to showcase their collections at MBFWJ16, under AFI’s development programme, Fastrack™.
For their ultimate showcase, Chesney and Tayla collaborated with DJ Zinhle and Minnie Dlamini respectively, to present a collection that tastefully balanced the aesthetic and complementary differences of the designers and their celebrity ally.
The yearlong development of AFI Privé is the result of a collaborative effort between AFI and independent artisans and craftsmen hailing from South Africa, Ghana, and Madagascar.
The debut collection is at once striking and gracefully understated, with clean lines, earthy tones, flora-inspired prints, textured fabrics, and fluid silhouettes.
Through a series of mentorships with established designers, and under the stewardship of AFI CEO, Dr Precious-Moloi Motsepe, Tayla and Chesney received first-hand exposure to the challenging and dynamic industry that is fashion.
“Fashion is very fast-paced, there is a lot to learn in order to be successful in the industry and that could take years. Being with AFI, I feel as though I have gained years of experience in just a matter of months,” says Chesney. “Learning to meet those hectic deadlines, being a stronger designer and learning the business side to fashion are just some of the things AFI have really instilled in me.”
“The experience I have gained has been one of a kind and I am so privileged. Learning from leaders in the fashion industry and working close with them is exactly what young designers like me need in order to grow and be successful, promoting African Fashion around the world,” adds Tayla.
The fledgling brand’s long-awaited entrée into retail comes at a time when local and international retailers are faced with imminent closures and restructurings, proving to be a bold leap for AFI.
“The fluctuating world of retail has not deterred us at all. We’ve adopted the concept of ramp-to-rail to differentiate ourselves amid other growing brands,” says Bryan Ramkilawan, AFI Fashion Manager.
Soon after its collection appeared on the runway, it was made available in its pop-up store at the Mall of Africa, and it will soon be available online on its e-commerce platform, “offering consumers a memorable experience, while speedily catering to their demand.”
While AFI steers forward into the next decade of African fashion (see AFI’s Silver Retrospective shoot), AFI Privé will be working quietly behind the scenes to ensure it offers an equally impressive (or better) collection, worthy of a second applause at the next Fashion Week.
AFI Privé’s debut collection will be available for sale in the AFI Privé store at the Mall of Africa, between the 17th and 24th of August, and its online store, www.afiprive.com, will be launched soon. For more information, follow the brand on social media @afi_prive on Instagram, and @afiprive on Facebook.