By Yemisi Suleiman
The recently held Africa fashion Week London 2015, which took place on the 7th and 8th of August at London’s Kensington Olympia, wasn’t just a fashion show, it was an amazing vision of cross-cultural harmony.
With over 50 designers from across Africa, Europe and Asia, with pavilions representing each country, at exhibition ground, whilst showcasing some of the best of their local wears, designs, accessories of all sorts, arts and craft, this year’s event, which is 5ft in the series was no doubt one of the biggest yet, and for the South Africans a most memorable one, no doubt.
Yes, the South Africans stole the two days of fashion extravaganza of the biggest fashion show in Europe. The Kwa-zulu Natal (KZN) fashion council, South African collectives was all the rage from the first day of the event to the last; as the KZN Fashion council unleashed its 20 strong delegation of talented fashion designers on the AFWL romps. Supported by the South African government, the 20 man delegate on their arrival in London, were received by the South African Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Obed Mlaba, who was on hand to welcome the team and later treated them to a special gala dinner, exclusively organized in conjunction with the department of trade and industry who had sponsored the trip.
It was a most memorable one for the South Africans as the KZN African collectives, impressed guests, fashion buyers and all at the Olympia with their striking patterns and vibrant colour. Closing day one of the show with a dramatic act, as twenty designers and their models came on stage waving the South African flag with pride, to the admiration of all.
Created by Nigeria’s Ronke Ademiluyi, Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) is Europe’s largest catwalk event of African and African inspired designs. It is a collaborative catwalk and exhibition, highlighting the industry’s established and emerged African designers, while capturing the surge of the African inspired trends in the fashion industry.
However one aspect of this year’s event that was mind boggling is the fact that there were just a few Nigerian designers at the event. According to Ronke Ademiluyi, the reason for this is largely financial as there were no major sponsors for the event, which could otherwise translate to assisting young emerging designers with the wherewithal necessary for participating at the show.
For Ms Ademiluyi, the aim of the AFWL is to project young Nigerian and African talents to the international world, but that can only be possible, with a strong support from the Nigerian government or corporate body, just like the South African government has shown.
For a show that costs thousands of pounds to put together, financial support from corporate organizations and the government, will no doubt lead to building a Nigerian fashion design sector that is innovative and internationally competitive, leading to economic development and much needed employment creation…which amongst others is the aim of the founder of the AFWL.