9 Famous fashion designers from Africa to inspire you

Fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah_Swimwear Flock Birds

I’m pretty sure you know at least one renowned Artist from Africa, if not I invite you to read our post “9 Famous Artists from Africa“. But, do you know that African continent is the home of famous fashion designers you should know as well?

9 famous fashion designers from Africa to inspire you.

Looking around us, we could see that Africa has undoubtedly been causing some significant changes in the worlds of technology, finances and eventually our focus in this article, fashion. These changes that have generated some respect and to some extent admiration undoubtedly did not happen overnight and on their own. These changes occurred thanks to some hardworking Africans that labored day in and day out to make their home a better place but also inspire other young people to believe like themselves in their dreams and in their Africa.

In the fashion world precisely, I will present 9 famous African fashion designers that have already achieved what we could call success. Most of them have already showcased their work in significant showrooms around the world. These fashion designers have had their creations featured in the most famous fashion magazines, dressed some of the world’s most famous First Ladies. They still work hard to make sure others like themselves have the courage to pursue their dreams not only in the challenging fashion world but in every domain, they have decided to explore.

The 9 famous fashion designers from Africa I chose to present you all have something in common.  Not only they have a vision for African fashion, an incredible sense of hard work and determination; but they inspire African Youth, and in particular the young African fashion designers. Who knows, maybe they might stimulate you too to not give up no matter the obstacles

Let’s take a look at these amazing designers and their stories!

Fashion designer Lisa Folawiyo from Nigeria

Lisa Folawiyo is a Nigerian Fashion designer and founder of the brand “Jewel by Lisa” that specializes in Ankara textiles that characterize Africa and African Fashion. This Fabric is widely used across her country and Africa in general, and that is why she wanted to add her own personal touch to the fabric that has been worn by African grand and great-grandmothers for centuries now.

She embellishes the fabric with beads, sequins, and crystals, which is precisely what has captivated people from Lagos to Cape Town, London, Paris New York and even Hollywood.

She believes there is still a place in the Fashion world for young entrepreneurs and does not miss any opportunity to encourage them, without leaving out the realities of the fashion world they need to know. In her opinion, many young people have the wrong impression of a designer’s life.

“They see the glamorous side. They see us when we go for a fashion show. They see when you go on the runway and take your bow, and they see you’ve been featured in magazines, and they think: “Oh, I want that.”  (African Dream: Nigeria’s Lisa Folawiyo – Bbc News)

Being trained initially as a lawyer she started Jewel by Lisa in 2005 and like she says; “Because of my story I do know that you don’t have to go to a design school to be a good designer but I do think that you must have a good eye, you want to understand garment-making as opposed to wanting to be called a designer

Fashion designers from Africa Lisa Folawiyo
Fashion designer Lisa Folawiyo collection

Fashion designer Taibo Bacar from Mozambique

Young Man from Mozambique, Taibo Bacar son of a seamstress who has conquered the world with his designs is considered now as one of the most promising fashion designers in Africa.

As for almost everyone, the start was not smooth, and as he says “When I started we had in Maputo few shops selling fabrics, not a great variety or quality, no textile industry, no fashion courses, no fashion-oriented marketing, photography or model agencies. So basically, I had a dream of becoming a designer in a place where it was almost impossible because of lack of infrastructure, education, network and industry” (Interview With Taibo Bacar | Iol Lifestyle.). However, he believes in an African fashion Industry, and his unique advice to the young generation is “Be true to yourselves and work very hard for your goals.”

Fashion designer from Africa Taibo Bacar

Fashion designer Mimi Plange from Ghana

Amazing and promising Fashion designer, Mimi Plange was born in Ghana but lives in America. Her aim she said it to prove that African Fashion can’t be “pigeonholed”. Though she does not use the traditional African Prints, her designs merge the cultural Identity of Africa as a whole, plus the American culture she lives in. She says: “I’m always looking for images of African bodies before colonization because I am interested in the decorated body-different forms of adornment, scarification, piercings and old rituals. I’m interested in former ideals of beauty and how they have changed over time and become predominantly western.”

Her unique touch is seen in her work, and her designs certainly did not go unnoticed by magazines like Vogue and even Michelle Obama who got to wear one of her designs. Mimi is clearly a go-getter. About fashion, during an interview to Ventures Africa, she said: “Well you have to love it because it becomes your life.” As a piece of advice to whoever aspires to be like her, she says: “Believe in yourself and keep knocking on every door.  Be patient!  It will feel just as good at 25, 35, or 45 when you see all of your hard work come to fruition.” Just go after what you want!

Fashion designer Mimi Plange from Ghana

Fashion designer Loza Maléombho from Ivory Coast

A fashion designer with an atypical or should we say captivating style? Loza launched her brand in New-York and later decided to install it in Abidjan. She says she “set up business in Africa to encourage others and make it possible.” We can say she has won her bet because even though most young African designers believe their brand has to be out of Africa to succeed, right from Abidjan, her brand has known incredible success.

Her brand and her style have convinced a good number of people including Beyoncé Knowles that had one of Loza’s attires figure in one of her videos. Besides being a creative genius, Loza is an unapologetic activist for the right of black women and women in general. So, it is safe to say she defends women in her own way, through art and that was clearly depicted through her series of portraits Alien Edits that have profound meaning.

She takes African fashion out of its comfort zone by not prioritizing the use of African prints in her collections. She believes other materials express the beauty of the African culture as a whole and one thing she gives as a piece of advice to the young African generation is: « Faites ce que vous pouvez, avec ce que vous avez, où vous êtes ». This can be translated “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Fashion designer Loza Maleombho

Fashion designer Kibonen Nfi from Cameroon

From Cameroon, Kibonen Nfi is a designer that has known how to value her culture and country, by using both as a significant source of inspiration. The fabric she uses called “Toghu,” a traditional Cameroonian fabric has considerably attracted attention towards herself and her designs. The fabric in question is colorful and has been worn by the famous African Actress Lupita Nyong’o, which has seduced both Vogue magazine and the Ellen DeGeneres show. This, in turn, sheds light on the fashion designer who says “what matters most to me is my work appreciated in the United States, but my Country Cameroon lifted through what I do.

Fashion designer Kibonen Nfi from Cameroon
Fashion designer Kibonen Nfi from Cameroon

Fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah from Nigeria

Young talented Nigerian Fashion designer, Dumebi Iyamah started out when she was 20 and still in school while setting out time for her education as well. Her Brand Andrea Iyamah started as a fashion blog before officially becoming a clothing line in 2011. One of her most acclaimed collections was her swimwear collection “Nkwor” that had major success both in and outside Nigeria. Her creations are fresh, and that is probably why both herself and her creations have attracted so much attention worldwide. About business, she admits setting and maintaining a cloth line is not that easy the most important thing according to her is: “knowing how to get back up. Be ready to learn”.  Like all the designers, the trip to success was not easy, but it was undoubtedly worth it. She is definitely a model for all the young aspiring fashion designers.

Fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah_Swimwear Flock Birds
Fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah_Swimwear Flock Birds

Fashion designer Anrette Ngafor from Cameroon

Founder of Liiber London, fashion designer Anrette Ngafor says her brand is all about self-expression. The designs she says are inspired by culture, arts, music, and even architecture. As a fashion graduate, she established her brand in 2012 and aimed at creating what she calls “vogue that reflects the extraordinary art, music, and chic I’ve experienced both in London and during my travels around the world”. More than a fashion designer, she is a businesswoman that certainly knows where she is heading to, and does not hesitate to showcase in the best of ways the fashion and style of her home Country.

Fashion designer Anrette Ngafor
Fashion designer Anrette Ngafor

Fashion designer Kahindo Mateene from Congo

Kahindo Mateene is an incredibly talented designer from Congo who does not only aim to inspire through her designs and her remarkable career but also, aims to heal through what she considers her art. Fashion designer Kahindo Mateene gets inspiration from Congolese art and culture of her childhood as well as the culture of her adopted country of the United States and numerous travels throughout Europe, the Americas, and Africa. She said in an interview: “I truly believe in the healing power of the arts, and I would love to use my craft to help empower women healing from trauma. This collaboration will be empowering them with job skills while allowing them to take part in the design process with me. It touches on so many issues that I’m passionate about: job creation, the healing arts, creative expression, ethical consumerism, and empowering women”. [Kahindo Mateene: An African Designer Making A Difference ...”].

With such determination and creativity, it’s no wonder she has produced some mind-blowing designs that so far have left the fashion world speechless.

Born in Uganda to Congolese parents, Kahindo Mateene was exposed to different cultures at an early age and brings that multi-cultural sensitivity to her designs.  Kahindo Mateene desired to create a line that infuses the nostalgia and modernity of the two cultures of her upbringing, American, and Congolese. She founded her own brand in 2009 under the name Modahnik.

Fashion designer from Africa Kahindo Mateene
Fashion designer from Africa Kahindo Mateene

Shoemaker and shoe designer Vidal Kenmoe

Shoe designer Vidal Kenmoe is a Military man by Profession, but a Shoemaker and designer by passion. This young Cameroonian has a brand of luxury shoes in Douala that is doing quite well (shoes by Vidal) although he prefers the term “Hand-made.” His designs are definitely mind blowing and for sure reflect the effort put into making them. He is a model of hard work and above all excellence and without any aorta of doubt an inspiration to many.

Shoe designer Vidal Kenmoe
Shoe designer Vidal Kenmoe

If you like this article, don’t hesitate to comment, share and have a look at the other articles of this series:

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