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The Top African Fashion Designers You Should Know About

Africa's rich culture is not only reflected in its art, music, and traditions but also in its fashion scene. When it comes to fashion, Africa is a force to be reckoned with. The fashion pieces that emerge from this continent are nothing short of breathtaking. From the bold colours to the intricate prints and unique styles, African fashion has the power to captivate anyone who lays eyes on it. 

african fashion designer

What's even more impressive is that African fashion designers have transcended the boundaries of their local markets and have gained global recognition. Their creations can now be found in international stores, gracing runways, and adorning the streets of fashion capitals around the world. This level of success and recognition didn't come easily. African designers have worked tirelessly to perfect their craft and showcase the beauty of their culture through their designs. Their dedication and passion have paid off, and now the world can't get enough of African fashion. It's an exciting time for the industry, and the future looks even brighter.

Let's get to know the Top African Fashion Designers you should know about!

1. Aisha Ayensu Obuobi: The Pride of Ghana

Back in 2008, the Ghanaian fashion scene witnessed a seismic shift with the dazzling debut of Christie Brown at its first-ever runway show in Accra. The visionary behind this sartorial revolution? None other than Aisha Obuobi Ayensu, whose passion for fashion was ignited at a tender age by her grandmother—a gifted seamstress renowned for weaving magic with traditional Ghanaian textiles. Drawing inspiration from this familial legacy, Aisha's brand, Christie Brown has become synonymous with daring designs and vivid prints that serve as a needle for her artistic expression and deep-rooted cultural heritage.

Christie Brown isn't just a label; it's a celebration of the modern West African woman—fierce, feminine, and unapologetically herself. Traditional prints take centre stage in Christie Brown's lineup, which spans from bespoke gowns to fashion-forward ready-to-wear pieces and inventive accessories—all infused with the touch of West African culture and artistry.

But Aisha's talent extends far beyond the borders of Ghana. Her innovative designs have garnered global recognition, earning her prestigious accolades like Forbes' 30 Most Promising African Entrepreneurs and multiple wins in the African Designer of the Year category at Ghana's Glitz Style Awards. From the glossy pages of Harpers Bazaar to the revered halls of Vogue Italia, Christie Brown has captivated fashion enthusiasts worldwide with its sophisticated yet accessible aesthetic, firmly establishing itself as a trailblazer in West African fashion.

Yet, Christie Brown's influence transcends the runway, making waves in the realm of celebrity fashion. Aisha's creations have graced the illustrious frames of icons like Beyoncé, Genevieve Nnaji, and Jackie Appiah, cementing her reputation as a visionary designer who effortlessly blends high fashion with celebrity allure.

2. Laduma Ngxokolo: Showcasing Xhosa Tradition

Laduma Ngxokolo's story is straight out of a modern-day fairytale. A young South African fashion designer, armed with nothing but creativity and a deep connection to his Xhosa heritage, decides to shake up the fashion world. In 2010, he launched Maxhosa by Laduma—a knitwear line that's as bold and vibrant as the culture that inspired it.

Using locally sourced Mohair and wool, Laduma weaves together a collection that's not just about fashion, but about identity and pride. His designs are a celebration of Xhosa tradition.

As an award-winning African fashion designer and entrepreneur, Laduma has earned his place on the world stage. His pieces have been showcased in prestigious museums from New York to Berlin, cementing his legacy as a pioneer of African design. And through it all, he's remained grounded, using his platform to inspire the next generation of creators.

At its core, Maxhosa by Laduma is more than just a clothing brand—it's a symbol of cultural pride and resilience

3. Loza Maléombho: Fusing Tradition with Modernity

Loza Maléombho's fashion journey reads like a tale of cultural fusion and creative passion. From designing school uniforms at just 13 to dressing Grammy-winning icons like Beyoncé, her trajectory has been nothing short of remarkable.

Born in Brazil and raised between Côte d'Ivoire and the United States, Loza's designs are a reflection of her diverse heritage. Drawing inspiration from her Ivorian, Brazilian, and North American roots, she launched her eponymous label in 2009—a bold step towards showcasing her unique vision to the world.

With a degree from the University of the Arts of Philadelphia under her belt, Loza embarked on a mission to blend tradition with modernity in her designs. Interning with renowned designers like Jill Stuart and Cynthia Rowley fueled her passion and provided invaluable insights into the fashion industry.

Loza's signature style is a mix of avant-garde aesthetics and cultural motifs, seamlessly blending traditional African elements with contemporary flair. Her creations serve as a piece for storytelling, Identity narratives, and resilience.

The global fashion community has taken note of Loza's talent, with her designs gracing prestigious runways, movies, and publications worldwide. But her impact extends beyond the fashion world—she's a staunch advocate for empowering African designers and artisans, championing sustainable practices, and elevating African fashion on a global scale.

Loza Maléombho continues to push boundaries and inspire change, she remains a beacon of creativity and cultural celebration in the ever-evolving world of fashion. 

4. Adebayo Oke-Lawal: Challenging Gender Norms

Adebayo Oke-Lawal isn't your average African fashion designer. He is the brain behind Orange Culture, he's shaking up the fashion world with his boundary-pushing designs. Instead of sticking to traditional gender norms, he blends Nigerian and African influences with contemporary streetwear styles, creating collections that defy expectations and blur the lines between culture and gender.

His journey to success started at a young age. At just 10 years old, a clothing store noticed his talent and used some of his sketches. Fast forward to 2011 when he launched Orange Culture at the age of 20, making waves at Lagos Fashion Week and catching the eye of fashionistas worldwide.

Adebayo's impact goes beyond the spotlight. He's also made a name for himself as a costume designer, art director, and stylist for top celebrities like Rita Dominic, Tiwa Savage, and Ice Prince. And he's not stopping there—he's using his platform to give back to the next generation of fashion entrepreneurs. Through initiatives like The Orange Mentorship, he's providing aspiring designers with the resources and support he wished he had when starting out.

With a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Lagos and a Master of Science in International Business from Northumbria University, Adebayo is a force to be reckoned with. He continues to push boundaries and challenge the status quo.

5. Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana: Awakening the Basotho's Culture

Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana, an acclaimed African fashion designer and the force behind her women's wear label, has been making waves since the establishment of her brand in South Africa in 2009. Within a short span, her label has risen to prominence as one of the leading voices in African luxury fashion.

Drawing inspiration from authentic Basotho blankets, Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana's collections feature a stunning array of winter wear jackets and coats. These blankets hold deep cultural significance, dating back over a century in Lesotho, the small landlocked country in Southern Africa where Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana was born and raised. Her designs pay homage to her Basotho heritage, celebrating the rich traditions and heritage of her upbringing.

person wearing basotho blanket

Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana's talent and creativity have earned her widespread recognition and acclaim. In 2014, she made her runway debut at Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada, where her work was lauded for its quality and ingenuity. Since then, she has showcased her collections in various countries, including South Africa, Lesotho, the United Kingdom, and Italy, captivating audiences with her unique aesthetic.

Her achievements have been celebrated with numerous awards and accolades. In South Africa, she was named one of the Top 40 under 40 business leaders of 2014 by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and received the Impact Award for Design Excellence. Her iconic starburst coat, nominated by Emilie Gambade, then Editor of Elle Magazine, was recognized as one of the Most Beautiful Objects in South Africa in 2016. Additionally, Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana was honoured as one of the Top 200 young South Africans in 2017 and is a Mandela Washington Fellowship 2018 alumna. With her dedication to craftsmanship and cultural heritage, Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana continues to leave an indelible mark on the world of fashion.

6. Yodit Eklund: Championing African Surf Culture

Yodit Eklund is the founder of Bantu, an African beach and surf lifestyle brand. Her upbringing was a blend of African cultures. After completing her studies in environmental science and economics at the University of California, Berkeley, she felt drawn back to her roots.

Bantu was born from Eklund's deep connection to Africa's rich cultures and her passion for surfing. Inspired by Africa's transformation and folklore like the tales of Mami Wata, the ocean goddess, Bantu seamlessly combines traditional African art and textiles with the dynamic surf culture.

Determined to honour Africa's heritage, Bantu prioritises sustainability and fairness. Every product is crafted in Africa by local vendors and artisans, ensuring authenticity and quality.

With Africa's youthful population shaping the future, Bantu embraces the continent's potential. Their beachwear is not just clothing; it's a celebration of Africa's diversity and a symbol of its rising influence in the world.

Final thougths

From the streets of Lagos to Johannesburg, African fashion designers are making a profound impact on the global fashion landscape, drawing inspiration from their rich cultural heritage and pushing the boundaries of creativity. Through their innovative designs and unwavering passion, these designers are not only redefining African fashion but also shaping the future of the industry. As we celebrate their achievements and contributions, let us continue to embrace the beauty and diversity of African fashion, celebrating its rich creativity and craftsmanship.

Wasn't that an amazing journey?

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