2023 was a pivotal one for African fashion. AFI’s Cape Town Fashion Week returned after a three-year hiatus; designers from across the continent continued to push the boundaries of creativity, showcasing their work on international runways and in major fashion publications.
Several designers received international awards for their work. UNESCO released a key report into Africa’s burgeoning industry, while there was also a growing emphasis on sustainability, with many designers using eco-friendly materials and production methods.
As the year comes to an end, these are some of the key moments in Africa’s fashion industry in 2023.
There were two key reports released in 2023. Ghana’s CIAFE (Council for International African Fashion Education) released the Journal for African and Diaspora Fashion in partnership with the STADIO School of Fashion. The report explores the rich cultural legacy of African and Diaspora fashion.
UNESCO followed with a report titled “The Fashion Sector in Africa: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Growth”. The report delves into Africa’s fashion landscape and provides valuable insights about the state of the industry. The report highlights Africa's untapped potential to emerge as a global fashion leader.
Sindiso Khumalo (RSA), a co-winner of the 2020 LVMH Prize, bagged another global collaboration with H&M’s & Other Stories. Rich Mnisi (RSA) also released a limited-edition collection with H&M.
LUKHANYO MDINGI, LUKE RADLOFF AND ADEJU THOMPSON
The fashion world has turned its gaze onto Africa and the designers are reaping the spoils. It’s been a year that has seen many African designers being rewarded for their talents. Lukhanyo Mdingi (RSA) received the inaugural AMIRI Prize; Adeju Thompson (NIG) of the Lagos Space Programme, was awarded the 2023 International Woolmark Prize
Luke Radloff (RSA), of Uni Form, was the first laureate of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation x Orveda residency program. This is a new award created to support designers. It will be awarded twice a year.
Thebe Magugu (RSA) received the Fashion 4 Development’s Franca Sozzani Award. He joins AFI founder, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe as a winner of the award. Dr Moloi-Motsepe received the honour in 2017.
AFRICA FASHION IN BROOKLYN
The groundbreaking Africa Fashion exhibition moved from the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London to the Brooklyn Museum in New York City in 2023. The exhibition marked a momentous occasion, adding to the growing global recognition of African fashion.
Over 180 works, including stunning garments, accessories, and photographs, were showcased during the five-month exhibition.
AFI SHOWCASES AFRICAN FASHION AT UNITED NATIONS, WOMEN DELIVER, BRICS & AGOA SUMMITS
2023 was monumental year for Africa Fashion International. The return of Cape Town Fashion Week after a three-year hiatus, saw AFI work with new brands, including Chiip O Neal (GHA), Malondié (RSA), Kat Van Duinen (RSA).
Recognising the need for additional platforms to amplify the voices of African designers, AFI actively sought out global opportunities to showcase their talent.
AFI showcased during the 78th gathering of the United Nations General Assembly, with a show at the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) dinner in New York City.
AFI followed this with another showcase at the 20th AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act) Summit in Johannesburg. Both fashion shows showcased Africa’s best fashion designers to a global audience.
AFI also identified opportunities, taking part in the exhibition spaces at the Women Deliver Conference 2023 in Kigali and the BRICS Trade Fair during the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.