Many of the biggest fashion brands in Africa are reaching astonishing new heights of ingenuity and creativity. Some have been featured in the world’s top publications, like Vogue and Forbes.
From Johannesburg to Lagos and beyond, there is no shortage of amazing designers creating unique clothes and accessories that reflect the culture of the people they come from. Here are ten of some of the biggest fashion brands in Africa.
What Clothing is Popular in Africa?
The kanzu is the traditional dress worn by Swahili-speaking men in East Africa, and women wear the kanga and gomesi. In Southern Africa, both men and women often wear distinctive shirts unique to their country. For example, South Africans are known for wearing Madiba shirts, while citizens of Zimbabwe often don safari shirts.
How Big is the Fashion Industry in Africa?
The African fashion industry is growing faster than ever. It is estimated that the African fashion industry will reach $32 billion by 2023, making it one of the most important industries on the continent. This growth can be attributed to an increasing number of high-end designers and a surge in technology and social media that has made it easier than ever to access African fashion.
Who is the Richest Fashion Designer in Africa?
The richest fashion designer in Africa is Yomi Casual, a Nigerian-based streetwear designer. His label has become popular across the continent, and he has been featured on Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30’ list. He is known for creating unique pieces that are influenced by African culture and tradition.
The biggest African fashion brands in Africa are now international names. From traditional wear to modern couture and everything in between, these brands have broken barriers and set new trends. Their designs are taking the world by storm. Below are the ten biggest fashion brands in Africa:
1. Thebe Magugu (South Africa)
Thebe Magugu is a South African fashion brand that creates sleek, fashion-forward styles with motifs from Africa’s past. These African brand crafts are ready-to-wear clothing and accessories and small multi-disciplinary projects. You won’t be able to window shop when you see all their amazing clothes! Be prepared to make some major debits from your bank account.
2. Hanifa (Congo)
Hanifa is an African fashion brand that celebrates women’s bodies with flattering garments. The brand creates beautiful silhouettes in a wide range of colors, using innovative techniques such as virtual runway shows with 3D models. Shop the recently launched Pink Label Congo collection to experience the luxury of Hanifa clothing.
3. Lisa Folawiyo (Nigeria)
Lisa Folwayo is one of the biggest fashion brands in Africa for women that sells both clothing and accessories. What sets Lisa Folwayo apart is that each piece has its own unique story, from the initial idea to the finished product. The collection incorporates a combination of textiles and bright colours to create globally acceptable prints.
With a sharp eye for tailoring and fit, Folawiyo creates modern, feminine silhouettes that don’t sacrifice traditional African aesthetics. If you’re the type who loves to stand out rather than blend in, this African fashion brand is definitely for you!
4. Lemlem (Ethiopia)
Liya Kebede, an Ethiopian supermodel and designer, created this African fashion brand after returning to her home country. Realizing there was no market for the incredible work being done by local weavers, she did something about it. The result is Lemlem, a fashion brand that celebrates Ethiopia’s weaving tradition. Through its beautiful pieces, it helps to keep traditional Ethiopian weaving alive while also creating jobs for local artisans.
5. Don Morphy (Cameroon)
Don Morphy is a custom suit and t-shirt brand. It was founded by the Cameroonian designer Don Morphy. His mission is to create affordable, high-quality menswear that celebrates African culture. The brand has dressed celebrities such as Chris Brown, and Ty Dolla Sign in its luxe pieces. You can express your individuality and style with Don Morphy while honouring African history.
6. Christie Brown (Ghana)
Christie Brown is known for her gorgeous African print designs and impeccable attention to detail. Her garments range from ready-to-wear pieces to bespoke gowns, often with a focus on waist-clinching fits. Christie has dressed prominent African stars such as Lupita Nyong’o and Angela Simmons, so you know her pieces are truly eye-catching. Her fashion label is based in Ghana, where she draws inspiration from the rich culture of her homeland. Christie Brown is perfect for someone who wants to make a statement with their wardrobe.
7. Imane Ayissi (Cameroon)
Imane Ayissi always dreamed of being a professional dancer and joining the National Ballet of Cameroon. However, because his mother had an interest in fashion, he became a stylist instead. For years, he dressed some of the world’s most prolific dancers and choreographers while also creating his own line of dresses. After that, Imane moved into modelling with top brands like YSL and Dior.
Imane draws much of his influence from dance, notably the shapes and movements of his fabrics when worn. Each collection is comprised of traditional materials and textiles from abandoned heritages that are natural and organic. He ranks among the biggest fashion brands in Africa.
8. Ahluwalia (Nigeria)
Priya Ahluwalia, the founder of Ahluwalia, draws inspiration from her Nigerian-Indian heritage and London’s garage music scene to create a unique, one-of-a-kind fashion. Ahluwalia has been a favorite among British fashion editors since its launch and continues to gain worldwide recognition. As a designer, Priya always strives to create stylish and sustainable garments while incorporating traditional African fabrics like Ankara wax print.
Despite being relatively new to the industry, Ahluwalia is already making waves in the fashion world–winning the prestigious H&M Design Award and being included in Forbes 30 under 30 European Arts and Culture list (2020). Not only that, but Ahluwalia has also been recognised as one of Matches Fashion’s Innovators and received support from Gucci—proving that she is a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry.
9. Orange Culture (Nigeria)
Orange Culture is a contemporary menswear brand founded by Adebayo Oke-Lawal in 2011. With Nigerian roots, Adebayo has fused his cultural upbringing with an international perspective to create vibrant menswear pieces. His designs are often described as eccentric and daring, often mixing bright colours and bold patterns. Each piece’s distinctive style speaks to the brand’s multicultural heritage.
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Not only is Orange Culture known for its bold aesthetic, but it is also lauded for its commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. From sourcing sustainable materials to creating jobs in Nigeria, Adebayo has used his platform to showcase the beauty of African fashion while also making a positive impact. Adebayo’s efforts have led to Orange Culture being awarded a GQ Design Award and was named “Best African Designer” by the British Fashion Council in 2019.
10. Maxhosa by Laduma
Laduma Ngxokolo is the founder of Maxhosa, an African-inspired menswear brand based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The brand’s aesthetic already has a loyal following from its vibrant use of traditional Xhosa print fabrics that have been reinterpreted for modern audiences.
Maxhosa is one of the biggest fashion brands in Africa, with a fusion of contemporary design and traditional Xhosa beadwork, often combining stripes and geometric patterns with bright colours. The brand’s signature details can be seen in the vibrant prints and intricate detailing that adorn each piece. With every collection, Laduma seeks to celebrate South African culture while exploring the fashion world.
The brand has grown to become a household name in South Africa and beyond, having dressed celebrities like Jidenna and Solange Knowles as well as collaborating with international brands such as Nike and Puma.