Africa is the new frontier when it comes to finding some of the best design talent of the future. There is so much creativity that exists throughout the continent that it can’t be ignored. Many young design talents never get the opportunity to showcase their work on an international platform.
The Wearable Art Collective Agency is playing an important role in the support and development of African designers. The Agency is an organization that empowers fashion designers from Africa so that they can succeed in the fashion industry both locally and on a global scale. Often there is a lack of resources available to assist designers to make it to the next level.
Lola Owolabi, is the woman behind the Wearable Art Collective and she believes in supporting the talents coming from the continent of Africa. Owolabi holds a Masters Degree in Coaching. She’s a motivational speaker who has inspired, motivated, coached and mentored women and girls. Her other organizations, Proudtobeme, Ebony Business Network and Women of Destiny keeps her very busy, so it’s hard to believe she took on another project with her Wearable Art Collective Agency.
In June, Owolabi, hosted the African Artisan Collective Fashion Showcase at Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra, Ghana. Designers from different parts of Africa and the diaspora showcased their collections to a group of fashion industry people and connoisseurs. Fourteen designers presented their collections, they were: Odotei Clothing, Yetroslane Couture, A-Kinko, Ayele Ayih, Ohene Mantse Couture, Cozy Couture, My Story Clothing, Fathia Creations, Orla Couture, Lumiere Couture, Senyo Foli, Ivana Jamestown, Clarence Clottey London and Jesu Segun London. There was a mix of both established designers and those who were new emerging talents. They were from Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and beyond.
The presentations weren’t your typical fashion runway event. This was staged to give a platform to each designer, which meant giving them an opportunity to discuss their brand, source of inspiration and their vision for the future. After models would strut in each ensemble, they stood collectively together to make sure each brand was cohesively displayed as a work of art. I had the opportunity to speak with each designer after their collection was shown, asking questions about their inspiration and what led them to a career in design.
Odotei Clothing was the first designer showcase presented and he told the audience that this was his first fashion show in his career. It was hard to believe that such a well thought and put together collection was his first.
Yetroselane is an established brand from Nigeria that featured both as a vendor and as a fashion installation. She incorporates wax print into contemporary styles and adds the beauty of beading details in her work. After her collection was shown, she danced in unison with her models, displaying the joy, love and passion we have in African countries. She’s committed to creating clothing for the modern woman and is focused on taking her brand beyond the borders of Africa.
Ohene Mantse Couture studied Engineering but now pursues his passion as a designer. He told the story of how his father wasn’t supportive of his creative desires. After his passing he made the transition to do what he loves and has been successful so far.
Senyo Foli, was one of the standout designers for menswear. His collection was dubbed the Martrys of Africa and featured clothing inspired by some of the continent’s historical figures like Nelson Mandela. He blended the old with the new and used textures, colours and a design aesthetic that truly represented Africa.