Meet the New, Young Voices who are changing the conversation about fashion in Africa
The Future of Fashion is Here: Meet The Rising Stars of Africa's Vibrant, Diverse and Innovative Industry
By Ranji Mangcu
There is a new landscape emerging in African fashion. One that is being shaped by young, creative voices who are unafraid to challenge the status quo and push boundaries. These changemakers are occurring at every level in fashion, from the ground up.
They are showing the world the intersections and interventions that are possible and sparking critical conversations about what fashion can be.
They are showing the world that African fashion can be stylish, modern, and relevant. In doing so, they open new opportunities for Africans in the fashion industry and helping to change how the world views African fashion.
This new wave of African fashion experts is changing the landscape of the industry, and we cannot wait to see what comes next.
BROKE/ We Are Broke (@wear_broke)
BROKE defines itself as a “cross-cultural clothing brand that tells stories of those regarded as Misfits...”, and leads with a fittingly potent slogan: “The World Is Yours”.
Utilising fashion as a practical vehicle for accomplishing their dreams, BROKE convenes a space for those who identify with the experiences of outsider-ness attached to the word “broke”. In this way, they exemplify the uniquely Gen-Z perspective that there are so many things to be in this world: why only be one?
Launched in 2020, BROKE stands for “Being Rebellious Over Conforming to Expectations”. The power of this movement was apparent in the lead-up to their runway show at the Lemkus Exchange Building in Cape Town. Launched at the height of the pandemic, social media has consistently been the brand’s strength. With posts being shared across Instagram timelines, it was apparent, even in watching the event from afar, that this was a defining moment in the South African streetwear landscape that goes beyond hype.
Tegan Gibaud (@tegangibaud)
At Copenhagen Fashion Week, Daniel Peters asks “how are we speaking to fashion professionals? Not just those who are designers and stylists, but those who could work in operations”? While her platform is small and her trajectory yet unclear, Gibaud’s platform is particularly fascinating in its marriage of science and fashion, highlighting the intersection between the two. Providing educational resources for sustainable consumer practices, it’s easy to become immersed in the infographics that Gibaud has curated into her Instagram page. Where the industry itself often speaks on sustainability in broad sand distant strokes from a marketing perspective, Gibaud makes it accessible and cute for the average Instagram scroller.
We most recently had the pleasure of speaking to Tegan about how her platform is Utilising Slow Fashion to Promote Sustainability.
Zandile Tshabalala (@zandiletshabalala_)
A Fine Art graduate from the University of the Witwatersrand, Tshabalala challenges the historical paradigm of mis- and under-representation of Black women in fine art paintings. Tshabalala intervenes through her practice, foregrounding Black womanhood — moments of joy, rest, and romance. In 2021, Tshabalala collaborated with luxury fashion house Bottega Veneta on their Wardrobe 03 Project. Her paintings capture moments of introspection, where luxury and leisure set the scene. Fashion is a key character in her work. She writes that she incorporates it into her practice as a “tool for communication”. In so doing, her representations of Black womanhood navigate the boundary between fine art and fashion. Her art calls us to think of fashion as social and communicative, and style as a connective memory-keeper in the sorority of Black women.
Eyram Rafael (@eyramrafael)
Eyram Rafael is a Ghanaian fashion writer, whose work encompasses youth culture and contemporary fashion in Africa. He has written for GQ South Africa, Guap Magazine, and Ebony Magazine.
Modupe Oloruntoba (@modupe.oloruntoba)
With a portfolio as powerful as hers, Modupe Oloruntoba exemplifies the ever-evolving voice of fashion media in Africa. Nigerian and based in Johannesburg, Oloruntoba is a fashion writer and consultant who has not only written for Refinery29, GQ South Africa, InStyle, and consulted with the Ethical Fashion Initiative on their Designer Accelerator Programme. Oloruntoba is also the founder of a Newsletter publication titled African Fashion Weekly that defines itself as an “on-the-ground conversation about Africa’s fashion industries”, keeping its audiences apprised on African fashion industry news through up-to-date news.
Oloruntoba most recently spoke to Sentinelle Magazine for the 5th edition of their Instagram Live Talk Series, “Behind Africa Fashion Business”, dropping key insights on what it looks like to be a fashion writer in Africa, and how to establish oneself in the industry.
Abike Ade Lomo (@itslewababy)
The art of layering 🤌🏿❣️♬ azealia banks competition sped up - speed up songs 🤕🖐🏼
Abike Ade was founded by the Nigerian born and US-based fibre artist, Lewa Adewumi. She produces hand-crafted crochet pieces using natural fibres, such as Mohair. Her staple piece, which distinguishes her, is the Chelly Hat, a soft, wide-brimmed, ruffled hat, which Adewumi produces in a plethora of colourful remixes and models on her Instagram page. In addition to her crochet practice, she shares the skill through tutorials on her webpage.