African Designers Making an Impact at Fashion Weeks

Every February in New York, a baffling phenomenon takes place across the city: while most New Yorkers are sensibly bundled up against the midwinter chill, a select few people have replaced puffer jackets with their stylish finest, weather be damned. Confusing at first, it takes a moment to remember that this is a sign that Fashion Week has arrived once again.

More than ever before, African designers are making an impact at these showpieces events, and the fashion world is taking notice: Thebe Magugu, based in of Johannesburg, was awarded the prestigious 2019 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers. He is among an incredible group of African designers whose collections will be gracing the runways this winter, so we wanted to share them with you.

Showing in New York: Sukeina

Sukeina, showing at New York Fashion Week 2020 on February 12

(Photo: @toyo_bammy)

Senegalese designer Omar Salam, a favorite of Naomi Campbell, will be showing his Sukeina label in New York for the first time on February 12. This look is from the GT Bank Fashion Weekend in Lagos last fall. See the new collection on New York Fashion Week's livestream on Wednesday at 4pm.

Also bringing collections to New York are Tia Adeola, whose show on Friday was inspired in part by her Nigerian heritage, and Orange Culture, also from Nigeria, which showed Monday at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn.

Showing in London: Ahluwalia

Ahluwalia at London Fashion Week Men's 2020

(Photo: @ahluwalia_studio)

Although London Fashion Week Men's was back in January (the main event starts at the end of this week), we loved designer Priya Ahluwalia's show too much to leave it out here. Of Indian and Nigerian heritage, Ahluwalia's newest designs are retro with a twist, influenced by the 1960s in the countries and regions that shaped her family: Nigeria, India, England, and the islands of the Caribbean.

Joining Ahluwalia at LFWM was British-Nigerian designer Tokyo James, whose Fall/Winter collection earned high marks from critics in London.

Showing in Milan: Africa Now

Thebe Magugu, Omer Asim, and Studio One Eighty Nine are coming to Milan this winter

(Photos: @thebemagugu@omer_asim@studiooneeightynine)

Milan Fashion Week, opening February 18, will be spotlighting five African fashion houses at Africa Now, part of the week's Fashion Hub Market. Front and center will be Thebe Magugu's South African label, which won the LVMH Prize in 2019 as mentioned above.

 Alongside Thebe Magugu will be four more labels that the organizers believe are "embodying the powerful identity of African fashion." A few of our favorites at RHT are among the impressive group of designers: London-based Omer Asim hails from Sudan; Studio One Eighty Nine handcrafts all their textiles in Ghana (and has a shop in New York!); Gozel Green is the label of Nigerian twin sisters Sylvia Enekwe and Olivia Jude-Okoji; and Artsi Ifrach calls Marrakech home to his label, Maison ARTC.

Showing in Paris: Imane Ayissi

Imane Ayissi, the second Sub-Saharan African designer to show haute couture in Paris.

(Photos: Imaxtree)

In January Imane Ayissi, who grew up in Cameroon, became just the second Sub-Saharan African designer to show his haute couture collection in Paris (and the first since 2004). Vogue's Suzy Menkes called the mix of European and African styles and influences a "triumphant debut."

Though Haute Couture in Paris was last month, Paris Fashion Week caps off the fashion week season with ready-to-wear collections later in February. Nigeria's Kenneth Ize, another LVMH Prize finalist in 2019, will be showing his line, while Thebe Magugu will be coming in fresh from Milan to present his work in Paris as well.