Joburg Fashion Week: The Most Memorable Shows

Joburg Fashion Week: The Most Memorable Shows

The Most Unforgettable Joburg Fashion Week Shows 

The Unforgettable Shows at AFI’s Joburg Fashion Week

Buhle Mbonambi 

There was a time when the global fashion industry wrongly stereotyped African fashion designers as limited to animal and traditional prints. However, this perception is outdated and uninformed when considering the thriving diversity within African fashion.

From iconic figures like Alphadi, Gavin Rajah, Imane Ayissi, and Ituen Basi to trailblazers such as Loza Maléombho, Sarah Diouf, Thebe Magugu, Kenneth Ize, and the Kente Gentlemen, Africa's fashion industry has captivated the world with its exceptional uniqueness, craftsmanship, and meticulous attention to detail.

This has always been the core message of African Fashion International: to showcase Africa's immense design talent to the global fashion stage.

Since the inception of AFI and its fashion weeks, such as Joburg Fashion Week, Cape Town Fashion Week, and the former Africa Fashion Week, AFI has been instrumental in reshaping how the world perceives African designers and their creations.

As we anticipate Joburg Fashion Week 2023, let's reminisce about some of the most unforgettable shows in recent years:

AFI Fashion Week Joburg 2011

AFI Fashion Week Joburg 2011 was dedicated to celebrating Johannesburg as a fashion capital. Shows were hosted in various parts of the city, including iconic landmarks like Constitution Hill, Nelson Mandela Bridge, and The Bus Factory. Designers that featured include David Tlale, with his now iconic Nelson Mandela Tribute show with ninety-two models representing the ninety-two years of Nelson Mandela's life on the Nelson Mandela Bridge in downtown Johannesburg. Suzaan Heyns also cemented her status as one of the most impactful fashion designers in South Africa, while KLûK CGDT showcased at the Randclub. It was a true celebration of Johannesburg. 

AFI Fashion Week Africa 2014

The 2014 AFI Africa Fashion Week is etched in history as one of African Fashion International's greatest achievements. Themed 'Our Heritage Re-imagined,' this spectacular event took place at Melrose Arch and featured the talents of Pan-African designers, including Taibo Bacar, Marianne Fassler, MaXhosa Africa, SCALO, Jenevieve Lyons, Laurence Airline, and Mille Collines. It was also the show that saw Rich Mnisi win the AFI Fastrack 2014 competition. 

AFI Fashion Week Joburg 2018

In 2018, AFI explored the Afro-Asia theme, delving into the evolving relationship between Africa and Asia. As these two continents' ties grew stronger, AFI facilitated a thrilling fusion of fashion and culture at African Fashion International (AFI) Joburg Fashion Week 2018, held at Melrose Arch. This event featured designers like AntiArch (China) and 5-knot (Japan), showcasing alongside leading African brands like Maxhosa by Laduma, Kreyann, Ruff Tung, Tuelo Nguyuza, Marianne Fassler, Eric Raisina, and Scalo.

AFI Fashion Week Joburg 2019


"African Fashion Unites." This event not only celebrated African fashion's global significance but also made a powerful statement about the importance of a united Africa. In response to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa in July/August 2019, AFI organized what many consider one of the most outstanding showcases of African fashion. This special presentation, supported by the Motsepe Foundation, featured a fashion show by some of Africa's greatest designers, including Taibo Bacar, Gavin Rajah, Eric Raisina, Marianne Fassler, and Mai Atafo. The event also included performances by Femi Kuti, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, and Kwesta.

AFI Fashion Week Joburg 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, AFI swiftly adapted to the shifting landscape, embracing the new virtual reality that had become our norm. They aptly themed their showcase "RESET! REIMAGINE! REINVENT!" This groundbreaking event seamlessly blended the digital and physical realms while adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols, ensuring limited seating capacity. The true star of the show was the SAFTA Award-nominated AFI Fashion Film, a game-changer that redefined the traditional runway experience. It provided a fresh platform for Africa's incredibly talented designers, including luminaries like Scalo, Gavin Rajah, Urban Zulu, Imprint, Seditsi Collection, K Moraba and Collective.
This innovative fashion film did more than just reset the runway; it offered a whole new perspective on contemporary African lifestyles in the context of our current challenges.

The film took viewers on a captivating journey through AFI's history and its profound influence on the talented designers gracing this season's showcase. The garments on display were a testament to reimagining African lifestyles, set against picturesque locations across the nation, such as the Johannesburg Lion Park, the Lesedi Cultural Village, and notably, the Constitutional Hill Museum. 

AFI continues to break boundaries and champion African fashion on the global stage. Joburg Fashion Week 2023, which will be a Pan-African fashion celebration, is on from 08-12 November 2023 at the forum | campus in Bryanston, Johannesburg. It promises to be another remarkable chapter in the exciting journey of Africa’s fashion industry.

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