Africa’s Top Fashion Weeks

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Model Nafissatou Gningue wears a creation by Egyptian designer Tito backstage during the 10th annual Dakar Fashion Week June 16, 2012

The last decade has seen a tremendous growth in the fashion and design industry in Africa. What Africa’s nascent fashion industry has managed to achieve over the past few years, is to sell the continent as an alternative to Europe and the U.S.A. In what has become a growing appreciation of African fashion, a lot more attention has been given to its players.

These days, African designers rub shoulders with some of the very big brands, and also compete for honours at some of the best fashion shows from Milan to New York, and Paris. The growth has also come with institutions and events such as fashion weeks, which has further strengthened the continent’s position as a growing fashion hub.

Cities like Johannesburg, Lagos, Accra, and Dakar hold regular fashion weeks, creating a platform for established and emerging fashion houses and brands.

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The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week

The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week – MBFW Johannesburg – South Africa

Part of African Fashion International – AFI’s three themed fashion shows, which include the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week – Cape Town and the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, the MBFW Johannesburg is one of the most patronized fashion weeks in Africa.

It’s popularity stretches beyond South Africa. For most African designers, it serves as a gathering of the best, and an avenue to showcase their rich collections.

It is a spin-off of similar ones held in New York, Madrid and Stockholm. It takes place annually, and usually in March.

The organisers seek to create a top-notch platform, aimed at fuelling the growth of the fashion industry in Africa.

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Models wait backstage during the 10th annual Dakar Fashion Week

Dakar Fashion Week – Senegal

Perhaps West Africa’s most popular fashion week, the Los Angeles-based designer Adama Ndiaye started the Dakar Fashion Week in 2002.

Dakar’s very chic; Afrocentric and downright funky Franco-African fashion nature, makes it the perfect venue for the yearly event. Over the past ten years, the Dakar Fashion Week has offered more African designers a unique opportunity to excel.

Most designers, known and relatively unknown who have participated in the event one point or the other, speak highly of it. And despite its numerous challenges, which include no support from the Senegalese government, it gets better every year.

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ARISE Magazine Fashion Week

ARISE Magazine Fashion Week – AMFW – Nigeria

The AMFW has been running since March 2011. However, due to what the organisers have described as challenges in getting visas for designers, as well as tax related issues with immigration officials, the event will not be held.

In the past few years, it’s become a go-to event for most designers, particularly those of African descent, and living outside the continent. It’s played host to some of the very big African fashion names, making it a prestigious event.

The organisers have also made it possible for designers who excel every year, to take part in competing fashion shows such as the New York Fashion Week, and the African Fashion Week in Johannesburg.

The AMWF is a by-product of the quarterly ARISE Magazine, selling in over 20 countries.

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South African Fashion Week

South African Fashion Week – SA Fashion Week – South Africa

Despite the stiff opposition it faces from other well-managed local shows, the SA Fashion Week keeps growing. Since 1996, it has become a must-attend event. The SA Fashion Week seeks to “development of an economically robust designer industry and to encourage the South African consumer’s patronage of local designers.”

That proposition has been handled well to a point where it’s become attractive not only to South African designers but to others African brands. It is held in Johannesburg twice every year, and introduces Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter Collections of designers.

Apart from staging a world-class fashion week, the organisers also provide agency services to designers, and run mentorship programs among other contributions.

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The Lagos Fashion & Design Week – LFDW – Nigeria

The Lagos Fashion & Design Week – LFDW – Nigeria

Last year was the second edition of the Lagos Fashion and Design Week. It was a major success, and followed a similar achievement in 2011.

The LFDW attracts both established and up and coming designers. “The platform aims to cut across geographic and culture barriers and position itself as a business of fashion and design event targeted at showcasing the best of the fashion and design industry, drive the Nigerian fashion industry and ultimately uplift its profile within the economy.”

It features runway shows, exhibitions, workshops and specialized class sessions for transfer of handy skills. It offers a seamless congregation for networking, accommodating industry players in media; fashion manufacturing, marketing, retailing and distribution attend.

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