How African Celebrities Can Boost the African Fashion Industry

How African Celebrities Can Boost the African Fashion Industry

Why African celebrities should collaborate with Pan-African designers to showcase Africa's unique style

The power of celebrity endorsement: how African celebrities can boost the African fashion industry

By Buhle Mbonambi

The news of the unification of Big Brother Naija and Big Brother Mzansi, known as Big Brother Titans, was met with much anticipation. Of particular interest was what Nigerian host Ebuka Obi-Uchendu would be wearing.

Ebuka, an acclaimed broadcaster and host of Big Brother Naija, is renowned for his unique style. His affinity for sartorial elegance has led to a successful collaboration with designer Mai Atafo, creating looks that meld tailoring and traditional Nigerian garments.

Viewers had been looking forward to it, and Ebuka didn't disappoint. He shared hosting duties with Big Brother Mzansi's Lawrence Maleka and pulled off both his suiting and traditional wear looks with aplomb.



Attired in a smartly tailored black suit created by Nigerian designer, Mai Atafo, Ebuka demonstrated outstanding sartorial flair at the show's premiere. He donned a grand boubou, crafted from a single piece of fabric with an opening for the neck. His fashionable choice certainly gave him the edge over the other host.

He has earned his status as a stylish male celebrity thanks to his frequent collaborations with mostly African designers, giving him an unforgettable look. Whenever you need an iconic fashion look, he is the one to watch.

Ebuka understands the significant role that African celebrities can play in fostering the growth of African fashion designers, by donning their creations for esteemed occasions.

 



He is certainly not the only one who appreciates African fashion. Many popular figures such as South Africa's Bonang Matheba, Nigeria's Toke Makinwa and Denola Grey, and Ghana's Nana Akua Addo also have a fondness for Pan-African designer labels. These individuals have amassed dedicated fanbases who watch their every style move eagerly.

Bonang often calls on Gert-Johan Coetzee from South Africa to create the perfect look for her red-carpet appearances and special occasions. She also ranges beyond her own country's borders and turns to Pan-African designers, recently collaborating with Dah Mola, a Nigerian stylist, resulting in some unforgettable outfits crafted by African talent in 2022.

 

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Tiwa Savage performed at King Charles III Coronation Concert, wearing an emerald, green gown by respected Nigerian designer, Lanre da Silva.

The international fame of Burna Boy, Davido, Black Coffee, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Zakes Bantwini often sees them opting for Western labels. However, when they want to make a strong impression, they turn to African designers.

While in Qatar for the Qatar Fashion United by CR Runway event, Zakes sported South African designer, Gvllvnt’s garments both onstage and while exploring Doha.

African fashion is quickly becoming a global sensation. From traditional aesthetics to modern streetwear, the designs of African creators are steadily gaining recognition within the mainstream fashion industry.

African designers are known for their creativity and originality, incorporating traditional crafts and materials into exciting new designs. Through their work, they seek to showcase the multitude of cultural influences across the African continent, changing people's views and attitudes towards it.

Models during the finale of the Maxhosa Africa show at Cape Town Fashion Week 2020. Laduma Ngxokolo is one of most popular African luxury brands, boasting an international clientele.
Models during the finale of the Maxhosa Africa show at Cape Town Fashion Week 2020. Laduma Ngxokolo is one of most popular African luxury brands, boasting an international clientele.

With its long, rich heritage of culture and tradition, fashion is another method to preserve the customs of the continent.

Revenue from Africa's fashion industry is projected to increase yearly, accumulating to a market volume of US$15.65bn by 2027, reports Statista. This impressive growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 13.01% reflects the burgeoning marketplace and its potential for success. Though the industry is fresh, infrastructure and support are lacking.

Celebrities can play an important role in helping to create a positive view of Africa and its culture by donning African-designed apparel. Mainstream media coverage often fails to accurately portray African culture, and this is something that could be remedied through increased support from celebrities.

There was disappointment when Black Panther: Wakanda Forever stars chose to wear western brands at the film’s premiere in Lagos, Nigeria. Only Danai Gurira paid homage to the creative talent the continent boasts, wearing Christie Brown.
AFRICAN CELEBRITIES FASHION- DENOLA, TOKE, DANAI


Denola Grey, Toke Makinwa and Danai Gurira. Denola Grey and Toke Makinwa are in the list of the most stylish African celebrities who religiously wear African brands at red carpet events. Danai Gurira famously wore Ghana's Christie Brown to the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiere in Lagos. PICTURES: Instagram

However, the Nigerian stars in attendance made sure to turn to African designers to creative unique looks that made them stand out.

African celebrities have amassed a colossal following, and their clout is unmatched. By donning African designers, they serve as trendsetters and demonstrate the potential of products from the continent. This could bring economic growth to Africa, encouraging job creation and further investment in its economy.

Celebrities can use their influence to demonstrate pride in African heritage and culture through their sartorial choices. Not only is this an opportunity to showcase the work of talented young people, but it is also a chance to build a brighter future for the continent.


The upcoming season of Netflix’s ‘Young, Famous and African’ features Bonang Matheba, alongside leading fashion stylist, Swanky Jerry.

By wearing pieces by local designers, they send a powerful message to the world that Africans are united in their celebration of their culture and are actively supporting homegrown fashion talent.

Read: This article was first published on the HON by AFI Vol. 3 Issue.

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