The need for Africans to acknowledge African designers

Africa has been producing several refined designers in the past but little is known about them within the continent. In a continent where fabulous designs have taken center stage even in the international arena, one would think that designers here are accorded the appreciation due to them but this is not the case.

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These designers are upheld to a higher degree in the international arena, more than they are regarded back at home and this is definitely a worrying trend that needs to change. With the sensitization that has been going around within African countries to help people understand the need to appreciate designers that have been groomed in-house, nothing much has been achieved yet.

Internationally, “Fashion Cities Africa” is a major exhibition in the UK that celebrates and examines the growing contemporary fashion scene in Africa. This exhibition has been held at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery previously, and is part of Fashioning Africa, which is the wider project.

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The focus of Fashion Cities Africa is to explore four major cities in Africa that continue to play a huge role in shaping style trends and these are Nairobi in Kenya, Casablanca in Morocco, Johannesburg in South Africa and Lagos in Nigeria. The showcase features photographers, film, bloggers, fashion agents, stylists, photography, and images for each of these cities.

Hannah Pool who is an Eritrean nationality recently visited Nairobi and Johannesburg and compiled a book called Fashion Cities Africa and described it as a snapshot of the contemporary African fashion scene. She acted as a consultant of this particular project and her book includes profiles of featured designers as well as essays of each city.

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According to Hellen Jennings another consultant that contributed two chapters in this book, there is something special about the ‘caftan couture’ of Casablanca. The buttons are made in one town while the beading is done in another before the work is sent to the designer. This is the reason why the final piece can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Basically, there is something special about African designers that the international scene has captured and here, African designers are feted the best way possible. As it is now, it is not clear when Africans will start appreciating the fact that their own designers are a rare gem to find, and there is a need to appreciate this fact because this will preserve culture, and spur growth in various ways in the continent.

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