This year, African Fashion Week London is going to be bigger than ever. The annual event started in 2011 and is now host to over 300 designers and almost 45,000 visitors, and is Europe’s largest catwalk event of African and African-inspired design.
AFWL highlights the best designers and African-inspired trends in the UK and worldwide and is at the forefront of the African fashion movement. Working in association with the Mayor of London’s Black History Month celebration and the Africa Centre Summer Festival, AFWL showcases some of the most incredibly unique designs using fabrics and textiles from east and west Africa, as well as from Europe.
Africa: At the Forefront of Fashion
The show is a staple in the fashion world now, as one of the event’s co-founders Josette Matomby told the BBC: “Africa is hot right now. Africa and its diaspora need to have an impact in London to exert influence on the rest of the world.” However, while this is true, a number of European companies have also been making and exhibiting African textiles without African roots. Matomby set up the show to highlight African designers around the world who create designs and textiles, to give them a stake in their own image. And it has, for the most part, worked, with the show increasing in popularity and filtering into mainstream UK fashion.
However, some discouraged fashionistas have turned to online forms such as vlogging to share and express their fashion sense. For example, Shirley B Eniang has over 10 million views on Youtube for her incredible fashion tips and over 500,000 subscribers; she is on the cutting edge of African-inspired fashions. Shirley captures her Ghanaian and Nigerian roots as well as her British-inspired fashions using videos online. Successful vloggers like Shirley are becoming more and more popular, and more and more important in the African fashion world.
Social Media is Taking Over
Social media platforms have made African fashion relevant not just to Africans, but to anyone interested in fashion. Vlogs, blogs and other forms of social media are a great way to express love for African designers and textiles, and appeal to a young audience, who are now getting excited about these fashions.
The hope is that as this continues to grow so will the desire for fashion shows, and more African shows will pop up all over Europe and the US. With the biggest African fashion event taking place in August in one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world, London, we’re excited to see which textiles, colours and styles will be next for African fashion.