We have long moved on from the idea of African design being simply Africa centered. In the past couple of years it has made it onto catwalks in Paris, New York, Milan and beyond. And of course, as with any competitive market, there will always be new talent changing the game.
In African fashion today, names like Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi, Thula Sindi, Deola Segoe, Ozwald Boateng and more are praised in the hallways of fashion houses. And now there is a new breed of designers who have caught the attention of fashion enthusiasts in Africa and abroad. So here are seven emerging African designers to watch out for this year.
Ewemade Erhabor-Emokpae has had a long obsession with the vintage glamor of the 1920s and 50s. Her design label -- Shakara Couture -- has encompassed the aesthetics, ambiance and essence of the present couture era and added an African flair.
Officially launched in 2012, the design label had its first major debut at the Music Meets Runway 2012 event where African designers clamoured together to unveil their late 2012 collections. Her collection was filled with long luxurious dresses with lace detail, creative fascinators, wide brim hats and satin gloves.
Recently, she released a few photos from her 2013 collection titled "There is No Such Thing As Too Much Glamor." The campaign photos showcased a young housewife carrying about her daily chores dressed to the nines.
When I first encountered the Kaela Kay design label I was immediately struck with its big and loud prints and funky designs. Created by Ghanaian designer Catherine Addai the label thrives on its passion to transform bold and extravagant prints into feminine, sexy and modern clothes for the modern woman.
Addai has created the Kaela Kay woman to stand out. The Kaela Kay woman is a refined socialite who walks with her shoulders back and her head held high.
Apart from her label's aesthetics, which always have a professional outlook, another reason why the Kaela Kay brand caught my attention was because of its take on prints. It moves to re-interpret print combinations while still keeping its African foundations.
When the 2013 collection "Unicorns and Bullet Wounds" from Kitschai was released, fashion enthusiasts were engulfed by a wave of curiosity. The design label introduced an edgy and risqué collection that wasn't typical of Nigerian designers and has not been seen elsewhere in this year's batch of collections.
Created by London-based Nigerian Andrea Ushedo, she incorporated her punk/retro personality into the designs, making them just dark and edgy enough.
With such an impressive debut, one can only wait in anticipation for what the label will bring out next.
Whenever I think of the Ghanaian Love April design label, I think of sultry and feminine designs with a hint of African detail.
Nina Barkers-Woode launched the Love April brand in 2011. She started it as a label offering ready-to-wear clothes for women, as well as leather goods and accessories.
According to her interview with Shadders Africa: "It embodies today's woman with the marriage between sophistication and sexiness which allows her to step into the world, wherever that might be, feeling and looking confident."
She last showcased her 2012/2013 collection at Ghana Fashion Week 2012, where it received a lot of praise.
Milq & Honey
Dark earthy tones, gold panel details and a twist to every piece are the three qualities that come to mind every time I look at a collection piece from Milq & Honey.
Owned by Gabriella and Kelly Davids, the South African label speaks to the confident woman who is sexy and edgy, yet glamorous and classy. Their clothes are inspired by energetic colors, animals and the natural patterns and shapes of the Earth.
At the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town 2013 they debuted their 2013 collection, which was a mix of light and dark. They started off with a dark ensemble of typical Milq & Honey garments and then went off into a birth of colors in neon and summer-appropriate casual wear.
With the experience gathered from being trained by Gavin Rajarh, Ernest Mahomane's eponymous label could easily pass off as one that has been in the business for years. The label opened the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town 2013 with an amazing combination of white and red dresses with gathered tulle, fitted bustiers and enhanced shoulder cuts that were as daring and serene as its Spring/Summer 2013/14 collection.