2019 saw African designers take flight to remarkable heights. From landing features in high-end publications including Forbes and Vogue to leading the diversity charge, these designers continued to manifest themselves as leaders in the global fashion industry.
We’ve rounded up 1o of the best African designers who made great strides both on the continent and on the global stage.
South African golden boy Thebe Magugu led the charge this year. From winning the LVMH Prize to being GQ SA’s 2019 Rising Star, the designer continues to spread the gospel of the African fashion industry to the rest of the world. Known for his fierce feminine designs, Magugu is one designer to look out for in 2020. From having model, Adut Akech donning his pieces on the cover of British Vogue’s September issue, to releasing a capsule collection on e-commerce site 24 Sèvres, 2019 saw the designer catapulted into stardom and he’s only just starting.
Selly Raby Kane
From Senegal to the world – simply put Selly Raby Kane cannot be tamed. Some of her 2019 accomplishments include landing features in BBC as a youth advocate and gracing the cover of Time Magazine‘s Next Generation Leaders issue, Selly Raby Kane has solidified herself as a designer to be reckoned with in Africa and beyond. And with the likes of Beyoncé and Naomi Campbell as clients, there definitely is no slowing down for her any time soon.
2019 saw Nigerian designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal more assertive with his narrative on gender fluidity and progressiveness. Blowing the fanfare of the Gen Z zeitgeist even further, the rising star of the Nigerian fashion scene wowed the crowd with his Goodbye to Me show at the SS20 New York Fashion Week. That was not all. A few weeks ago, he secured a new capsule collection collaboration with Temi Otedola the brains behind fashion blog JTO Fashion. We can’t wait for what he has in store for 2020.
Kenneth Ize has solidified himself as the aso-oke front runner. Landing a spot as an LVMH Prize finalist this year and being name-dropped by American Vogue’s editor in chief Anna Wintour, the Nigerian designer continues to make strides in the global fashion space. And with him being a part of the BoF500 list this year, it is certain, that Ize has only just begun.
Senegalese designer, Sarah Diouf of Tongoro Studio is not going anywhere any time soon. She has proven to be one of the vanguards, heralding a new wave of African designers seeking to break into global stardom. A favourite of Beyoncé including being featured in her “Spirit” music video and nominated for the Essence “Black Fashion Designer Of the Year” Award this year, she most definitely has come to stay.
Nigerian designer and owner of Slashed by Tia, Tia Adeola has become a favourite of A-list celebrities including Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne. This year, the designer landed a slot on the Teen Vogue‘s newly launched Generation Next which exposed her to more industry insiders and saw her showcase her latest collection at the New York Fashion Week last September.
You can say that 2019 was the year for US-based Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba. The customs and alterations seamstress founded her clothing company Hanifa in 2012 and has since then had an upward trajectory. Known for her curvy designs, this year saw her featured in high profile magazines including Forbes and Teen Vogue. Anifa was also a part of the Teen Vogue’s Generation Next this year.
This year saw menswear designer David Wej become a must-stop destination for every stylish man in Nigeria. From TV host Ebuka Obi-Uchendu to Denola Grey, if there was any dapper man that stopped you in your tracks in Lagos this year, he was most likely wearing a David Wej design. We can hardly wait to see what he has in store for 2020.
Rich Mnisi definitely won all through 2019. From landing the cover of Glamour SA to snagging the Emerging Designer of the Year honour at the 2019 Essence Best in Black Fashion Awards, the South African designer has proven to be a force in the African fashion industry. Known for his gender-defying pieces, Rich Mnisi continues to leave fashion editors hanging on to his next collection.
David Tlale is for sure one of the most sought after African designers. The South African creative genius continues to expand his clientele to A-list stars. This year, his pieces were worn by the likes of media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Nigerian musician Flavour. The designer also landed a new deal with SA based rice processing company Tasty Rice. We can hardly wait for all the moves he will make in 2020.