April: The Style Issue

By Ntokozo Maseko

At the end of 2023, UNESCO released a report titled The Fashion Sector in Africa: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth, and if one was to use its analysis to paint a picture of fashion in Africa, it would be a head-turning paint-by-numbers exercise. The numbers are both astounding and encouraging; 37 of 54 African countries produce cotton to the value of $15.5 billion a year – a climb of 90 percent between 2019  and 2020.

With under-25s accounting for 50 percent of the continent’s population and the emerging middle class consisting of more than 35 percent, there’s a healthy pipeline of new consumers eager for fashion Made in Africa – a movement that’s gaining momentum in stilettoed leaps. Thirty-two fashion weeks are held across the continent each year, and a 42 percent increase in demand for African haute couture is expected over the next 10 years. With small and medium-sized enterprises accounting for 90 percent of businesses in Africa’s fashion sector today, a formidable industry is within grasp. 

My attendance of the Intra-African Trade Fair in Cairo late last year was an affirming experience, where I witnessed African luxury fashion brands such as David Tlale, Abiola Olusola, and Christie Brown at a spectacular fashion show at the Citadel in Old Cairo. As part of Afrexim Bank’s Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) Programme, African designers have access to skills support, international markets, and funding through impact investment fund FEDA. I watch with a keen eye at what African institutions like Afrexim Bank are doing to take on the challenge of establishing a well-developed fashion industry on this continent.

As the editor of a Pan-African publication, my aim is to showcase and profile best-in-business African brands and the incredible minds behind them. Find Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu and Mmuso Maxwell in our fashion spread (pg 30 – 36), while Lulu Shabell, MD of Lulubell Group and a champion for made-in-Africa luxury, unpacks her commitment to fashion on page 48. We know our readers are global citizens and so, we have also curated the latest in fashion from a global perspective. I had the pleasure of chatting to Dolce&Gabbana CEO, Alfonso Dolce, and enjoyed hearing about the brand’s past, present, and future in an exclusive interview (pg 28).

On the topic of exclusives and international convergence in Africa, we feature the duo behind world-class haute couture brand, Budism Couture, who’ve chosen our shores as their headquarters to service clients from all over the world. Read how they’re turning the concept of the fashion capital on its well-coiffured head (pg 23)

Read the full issue here.

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