There’s never an easy time to build a new fashion label. But these brands are making big moves—like finding innovative ways to create a niche for themselves in the African and global fashion space.
Fashion in 2023 isn’t about being on trend so much as it is about having a deeply original sense of personal style. And so, these designers go their way, offering unique looks that suit every individual style personality.
From fresh takes on tailoring to turning deadstock fabric into treasure and a one-of-kind weaving, printing, and embroidery piece, below are eight innovative African fashion brands whose works we admire.
Sindiso Khumalo (South Africa)
An architect and textile designer by training, Capetown-based Sindiso Khumalo believes in the power of handcraft. A 2020 co-winner of the LVMH Prize, she partners with NGOs and small workshops in South Africa and Burkina Faso on woven, crocheted, hand-printed, and embroidered looks. Some of the brand’s pieces are made with organic cotton and beautifully hand quilted for structure.
Fozia Endrias (Ethiopia)
An ethical and sustainable casual wear brand from Addis Ababa, Fozia Endrias was established by the forces of passion, enthusiasm and the drive of creating new things out of all that exists.
The brand is known for its use of pastel and earth tone colours, patches and stripes made of recycled and upcycled materials and its structural, oversized, and kimono-based designs which create the unique aesthetics Fozia Endrias is known for.
Ekuaaddo is an Afrocentric and pluricultural fabric company that creates ready-to-wear and alternative-style garments and accessories. The brand finds inspiration in the infusion of Pre-Columbian, Caribbean and Ghanaian cultural elements.
With the motto “fabrics that speak”, it prides itself in bringing the past to life. Family, Heritage and Tradition are the elements which keep the brand together, ensuring that stories of the past will become present to share with those around us.
EPICA Jewellery (Kenya)
Founded in 2015 by Sharon Wendo, EPICA Jewellery finds inspiration in African culture and contemporary fashion that prides itself on being sustainable. All the pieces, ranging from earrings to body jewellery, are handmade using raw materials that are sourced locally in Kenya.
The brand focuses on supporting women in building confidence through its edgy jewellery pieces. The brand has been proven popular with local and international celebrities and has been featured in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar Italia, Vogue Italia, GQ South Africa and Business Daily Kenya.
BAAX is a lifestyle, sustainable brand deeply inspired by local Senegalese craftsmanship and style. Founded by Sophie Nzinga Sy, who has dressed A-list celebrities all under her eponymous brand Sophie Zinga, The designer created BAAX as a fashion catalyst for conversations around self-worth, human connectivity and cultural identity.
The word BAAX means heritage or tradition in Wolof. To honour the brand’s sustainability values, customers can exchange Sophie Zinga pieces for BAAX, while the former will be repurposed into BAAX’s sustainable line.
Fikile Sokhulu (South Africa)
Fikile Sokhulu is a brand whose mission is to create a womenswear brand that will elevate African fashion and adorn African women.
The aesthetics are influenced by a high standard of craftsmanship with the intention of implementing femininity and movements into the design. Featured in WWD and ColorBloc Magazine, the designer speaks of the importance of sustainability and social impact in the brand’s existence which tells a story of human connections.
Founded in 2017 by two Ugandan fashion designers, Kasoma Ibrahim and Katende Godfrey, IGC Fashion (Ibrahim and Godfrey’s community fashion) is a fashion and costume label from Kampala inspired by African heritage, nature and culture.
The brand sees garments as moving breathing pieces of sculpture and art which can be used as a vehicle for communicating and questioning ideas about cultures.
HAUS OF STONE (Zimbabwe)
HAUS OF STONE, a Zimbabwean slow-fashion brand developed by Danayi in 2018, is influenced by the fantastical. It is home to the conscious aspirational global wanderer seeking apparel that is understated, experiential and imbued with a hint of mysticism.
The brand is driven by the need to use fashion as a vehicle to narrate contemporary Zimbabwean narratives infused with heritage and cultural nuances. The brand’s 3 pillars are built upon fostering sustainable design practices, visual storytelling and experimentation through handcrafted skills.