African Designers Finding World Market

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Since the first New York African Fashion week in 2010, African styles have been gaining heed by big brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior; but the world is starting to recognize these emulations as frauds. When Michelle Obama and Beyonce wore outfits created by African designers to high profile events, the fashion world was shaken to its core.
Models wearing creations by fashion designer Ailinda Sawe wait backstage prior to the opening night of Swahili Fashion Week in Dar es Salaam in December 2014. “The global consumer today is hyper-aware. They want authentic and innovative ideas delivered from the authors of those ideas,” Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who owns Ethiopian shoe company, soleRebels, said. “We have always had incredible design and production talent here, but it was invisible. That is changing.” SoleRebels has stores all over the globe, from Singapore to Greece. The reasoning behind Alemu’s claims is that in the past, products from Africa were viewed as either being of poor quality or not fashionable. With the global economy changing, Africa is becoming a player in the world of fashion. Tom Ford explained to CNBC last week that he is looking toward Africa's "powerful luxury consumer base" as his own company expands. Global celebrities have endorsed African designers including Nigerian label Maki-Oh, Ghana’s Osei-Duro and South Africa-based retailer, according to Atlanta Black Star. “We’re starting to see Africa taking ownership of its own cultural assets. African designers are being noticed. They are stocked in international stores,” said Ghanaian entrepreneur Samuel Mensah, who quit his job as a fund manager to launch online clothes retailer Thanks to the help of major fashion labels and celebrities, the world will continue to be exposed to the rising talent of African designers.
Blaine  Fuller
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