theGrio Style Guide: A glimpse into the robust African fashion industry

Think luxury fashion is exclusive to Europe and the U.S.? Here is a list of brands and designers to shop, admire and follow, straight from the motherland.

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Guess what? African fashion is more than just dashikis and kente cloth. While both have significant and historical meanings in West Africa, hundreds of designers from across the continent showcase the motherland’s beauty through other forms of fashion. However, as Ghanian writer and creative producer Ekow Barnes highlighted on his panel at the 2022 Business of Fashion Voices conference, Africa is often excluded when discussing inclusion. 

“Whenever the West tells our story, it’s always a bit one-sided,” Barnes shared. 

African fashion designers, African fashion labels, theGrio.com
Andrea Iyamah designer space at the REVOLVE Gallery NYFW Presentation at Hudson Yards on September 8, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for REVOLVE)

Today, there are plenty of designers, authors, photographers, and entrepreneurs actively participating in telling the rich stories of African countries. In fact, there is a robust African fashion scene. Taking a modern twist on traditional silhouettes and designs, African fashion ranges from luxury to streetwear with an emphasis on remaining sustainable. So, next time you’re in a heated fashion debate or simply looking to splurge on yourself, consider these brands and designers.


Tongoro

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Runway show by Tongoro at ESSENCE Fashion House for New York Fashion Week at Affirmation Arts on September 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Designed and produced in Dakar, Senegal, Tongoro brings playful and unique designs to the forefront of fashion. Founded by Sarah Diouf, the brand has gained international recognition and has been worn by Beyonce, Burna Boy, Naomi Campbell, and more.


Titi Adesa

Founder and designer Titi Adesanya speaks onstage during the 35th Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards on November 30, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Footwear News)

This Nigerian-owned luxury footwear brand believes that “within every woman lies a diamond – unique, resilient, and imperfectly perfect.” Titi Adesa ’s collections balance understated elegance and modern femininity through redefined minimal silhouettes.


Ajabeng

Founded in 2018 by Travis Obeng-Casper, contemporary Ghanaian unisex brand Ajabeng boasts an Afro-minimalist aesthetic, pairing bold colors with more relaxed designs and silhouettes. The brand’s array of linen tunics, shorts, and pants make a statement all on their own but could easily be dressed up if need be. 


Andrea Iyamah

African fashion, Andrea Iyamah, theGrio.com
Andrea Dumebi Iyamah attends the REVOLVE Gallery NYFW Presentation at Hudson Yards on September 8, 2022, in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for REVOLVE)

Inspired by her African heritage and elements of nature, Andrea Dumebi Iyamah’s eponymous brand was founded in 2011. The bold colors, retro classic silhouettes, and contemporary edge of her pieces are designed to spark the adventurer within anyone. 


Kente Gentlemen

Launched in 2017 by Aristide Loua, Kente Gentlemen is a clothing brand based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, that places an emphasis on ethically sourced handmade high-quality blazers, pants, skirts, and dresses.  The brand’s in-house atelier designs and tailors contemporary clothing and accessories alongside local craftswomen and men.


Fruché

Fruché is a modern luxury fashion brand based in Lagos, Nigeria, founded by self-taught designer Frank Aghuno in 2014. With its unique silhouettes, 3D-quality designs, and mixed media materials, the brand offers up elegant Afrofuturist style.


Imad Eduso

Danyl Howard is seen wearing Imad Eduso to NYFW at Spring Studios on September 10, 2022, in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Sophisticated, vibrant, and functional, Imad Eduso is a womenswear brand based in Lagos, Nigeria. Established in 2015, the brand creates timeless pieces using contemporary trends and colors. 


Bloke

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Photo: BLOKE

Founded by Faith Oluwajimi in 2015, Bloke is a Nigerian label challenging the relationship between art, culture, and fashion. Through blending contemporary design with handcraftsmanship and traditional patterns, Bloke offers its own unique concept of luxury for men and women.


Margaux Wong

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Photo: Margaux Wong

Jewelry designer Margaux Rusita’s brand Margaux Wong, based in Burundi, is saving East African materials from a waste-bound fate. The one-of-a-kind statement pieces within the fine jewelry line are made in collaboration with local artisans and made from ethically sourced cow horns, brass, and other materials. 


NBDA

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Photo: NDA

Designed by Nigerians for the world, NBDA is a footwear brand influenced by multidimensional fashion. On a mission to promote originality, self-discovery, and self-expression, the brand’s designs showcase the intersectionality between fashion, architecture, and the human experience. 


Seta the Label

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Photo: Seta The Label

Bring a hint of sex appeal to your everyday wardrobe with a piece from Seta the Label . With each product manufactured in Lagos, the brand offers effortless, simple, yet trendy styles for the modern woman. 


Onalaja

Models walk the runway for Onalaja/Dayverse during DC Miami Swim Week: The Shows powered by DCSW at SLS South Beach on July 15, 2022, in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Thomas Concordia/Getty Images for DC Miami Swim Week)

The demi-couture womenswear brand Onalaja is the result of founding creative director Kanyinsola Onalaja’s Nigerian heritage and Italian design influence. The brand’s motifs include texture-mixing, sultry silhouettes, and intricate prints. 


Salt and Sunscreen

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Photo: Salt and Sunscreen

Sometimes all you need is some time in the sun, and this Nigerian-based brand has the gear you need for your next vacation. Salt and Sunscreen produces quality, fashion-forward swimwear for both men and women. 


Orange Culture

Models walk the runway during Orange Culture Runway Show – Style360 NYFW on September 10, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Cynthia Edorh/Wireimage)

Orange Culture, the Nigerian label that isn’t just a clothing line but also a movement, is in its twelfth year of production since its 2011 launch by Adebayo Oke-Lawal. While OC focuses heavily on menswear, via the brand’s website, Lawal says his garments are for anyone interested in telling a story with their style.


Selfi

The Cape Town-based womenswear brand Selfi, founded by Celeste Arendse, specializes in ethically sourced bespoke items for the modern woman. The pieces are structured, strappy, and often in neutral colors, making them instant closet staples.


Ditto Africa

Looking to find luxury from across the diaspora all in one convenient platform? Ditto Africa is the ultimate online marketplace for consumers worldwide to shop directly from African labels from across the continent.


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