The list of designers for this season’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week AFRICA has just been confirmed and it includes some fabulous designers from the continent. There’s been a fascination with all things “African” in international fashion lately, from the use of traditional West African Ankara (in Burberry Prorsum for example) to animal prints and bold, geometric shapes in jewellery and fabric in labels like like Lamb and H&M.
Some of these designers from around Africa incorporate local fabrics from their regions into their designs. I asked them about the fabrics they use:
TAIBO BACAR: “I grew up in the middle of fabrics, needles and threads. The sound I heard most in my young life was the sound of a sewing machine. My mother is a seamstress, and she was always the person I admired most in my life. Her world, fascinated me. I grew up playing with dolls and designing dresses to enchant my classmates. We don’t have fashion schools in Mozambique, so I decided to major in business administration and management, and this made me realize that I could make money following my dreams. I did not become fashion… I was born fashion. Fashion is my world.
“Fabric is the most important part of creating an outfit. All designers should study the compositions of fabrics, because the success of a good design is in the right choice of fabric. For me there is no better place to be in the world than the fabric market. It is a magical place.
”I work with mesh and silk. I’m now going through a phase studying techniques for the development of my identity, working with capulana, a local Mozambican fabrics known for its print. It’s not easy to work with
capulana, but if it’s well crafted, the result is excellent. I love using capulana because it helps me show the world our cultural riches.
“In Mozambique good fabric is very expensive. I buy most of my material outside of Mozambique on my travels. I
love new cultural experiences, finding new materials and new ways to work. I love big fabric markets and spending the
day amidst strangers discovering new fabrics. My current favorite places to buy fabrics are China, India and Indonesia.
“My new collection is called AFRICA … WALKING THE WORLD. It’s named in honour of everyone who has fought for the development and recognition of fashion made by Africans, and especially for fashion made in Africa. The collection is my cry to the world that I am proud to be African, proud to be Mozambican. It’s my best colletion ever.
MUSTAFA HASSANALI: ”I use lots of traditional fabrics from Tanzania mixed with natural and luxury fabrics. The Khanga is the traditional fabric of Tanzania. It has a border that contrasts with the body of the fabrics. They contrast and complement each other, so the vibrancy and vivacity of the prints stand out.”
“I source my fabric at Kariakoo, the hub of Dar es Salaam. That’s where I gets all the fabrics to quench my thirst “.
DEOLA SAGOE: “I use African fabrics, hand-woven materials and disappearing traditional African techniques to make my clothes and I source my own material.”
“My preference and signature fabric is the Aso-Oke, but I also make my own tie-dyed designs on silks and other natural fibres. Aso-Oke is hand-woven on time honoured looms that date to the 11th century. They are genuine Nigerian fabric, and the preserve of both male and female weavers.”
“Aso-Oke translates literally into Top Drawer clothing. It is African Haute Couture fabric of great antiquity and value. I’ve brought innovative techniques to the creation of this fabric and hope to eventually export it. With my upcoming collection I present the first African lace collection using Aso-Oke, which I have called Leceq.”
Wow… I love the outfits… especially the first photo with the red trousers and the next one with the orange shorts – definitely within the realm of the wearable unlike so much of the fashion stuff we see being published and broadcasted these days!
Great post and interesting idea to ask these designers from where they source their fabric. I just don’t agree with the intro that connect Animal Prints with the overall African Prints/Fashion trend – Animal prints are a cliche representation of African designs whereas the portrayed designers are Haute Africa.
I can’t see the rest of your comment. What is it that you don’t agree with?