In the ever-evolving landscape of the fashion industry, 2023 emerged as a pivotal year, marked by a significant shift towards sustainability and a heightened awareness of the environmental impact of fashion choices.
Consumers are becoming more conscious of the origins of their clothing, gravitating toward brands that prioritise sustainable practices, circularity, and ethical production.
This shift is not only reshaping the fashion narrative but is also influencing designers to rethink their creative processes, resulting in a more profound emphasis on quality, longevity, and a departure from the traditional cycle of seasonal clothing.
As the global fashion community embraces these transformative principles, the African fashion industry is experiencing a renaissance of its own.
Across the African continent, we have seen designers explore various textiles, from merino wool, cotton, and linen, to silk, raffia, denim, batik, and foulard.
Designers have explored these textiles, given them different treatments than usual, to produce stunning garments that are changing the narrative about African fashion.
Exploring the Fabric Trends of 2024: A Sustainable Shift Reshaping Global Fashion
The exploration of sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives is gaining momentum within the African fashion industry. Fabrics such as organic cotton, raffia, and Tencel are becoming increasingly popular due to their minimal environmental impact.
If you look across the many fashion weeks across the continent, designers are embracing these materials, not only for their sustainability credentials but also for their comfort and versatility.
Circularity has also joined the conversation and many designers are finding ways to reuse ‘dead stock’ by giving it a new treatment- from dyeing and ruching to cutting it up and refashioning it into different outfits. Fabrics from old collections are being given new life.
The rise in interest in African fashion designers, coupled with the collective efforts of key stakeholders committed to fostering the industry's growth, has catapulted numerous brands into the spotlight.
There is an increasingly shared commitment to embracing the rich tapestry of Africa's textile heritage, where designers are placing a spotlight on fabrics that are indigenous to their respective regions.
As African brands aim to set themselves apart from the rest of the fashion industry, designers are heavily looking into the exploration of cultural heritage textiles, with a focus on celebrating and preserving traditional craftsmanship and indigenous weaving and fabric dyeing techniques.
Designers are sourcing fabrics from artisans in their community, who have kept the traditional art of textile production.
Long a favourite of discerning fashion consumers, linen is beloved for being breathable, lightweight, and airy. However, as we saw with Ngüo’s collection at Joburg Fashion Week, linen's versatility allows it to be used in both casual and more formal settings.
We can expect linen being incorporated into a range of garments, from relaxed summer wear to sophisticated, tailored pieces.
Menswear brand, Gvllvnt, and AFI Privé’s menswear collection looked to tailored and relaxed suiting using linen at Joburg Fashion Week, adding to the timeless appeal of linen.
The New Leathers
Many fashion consumers are moving away from animal-by-products, from fur to leather. Vegan leather has lost favour, and the alternatives are plant-based leathers like Piñatex and Mushroom Leather.
The former is a made from pineapple leaf fibres, while the latter is made from mycelium, which is the root structure of mushrooms.
Beyond Piñatex and Mushroom Leather, various emerging sustainable leather styles are making waves, utilising materials such as apple peel leather, lab-grown leather, and even leather made from discarded wine waste.
Classic Fabrics with a Vintage Allure
These fabrics are never out of style for true fashion connoisseurs. However, they are not always readily available in stores. That changes this year.
Velvet, tweed, sequins, lace, hopsack, and corduroy will be popular this year, especially in winter.
The renewed interest in these classic materials reflects a shift towards appreciating enduring quality in an industry often dominated by fleeting trends.