10 ethical African fashion brands to support World Africa Day
Over the past two years, fashion brands have pushed to be more sustainable and ethical with their practices. Although ethical fashion brands have continued to emerge on the American and European continents, many would argue that sustainable practices were part of the African fashion industry long before it became fashionable. Crocheting, recycling and upcycling, maintaining traditional craftsmanship, hand weaving, etc. have been part of the African fashion industry for years.
So far, a number of African brands have done their due diligence and strived to ensure that their production and manufacturing follow a more ethical and sustainable path. For World Africa Day, OkayAfrica spoke to a number of these ethical brands that are pioneering sustainability in the African fashion industry.
Ajabeng Ghana (Ghana)
Ajabeng Ghana is an ethical fashion brand founded in 2018 by Travis Obeng-Caster. The brand’s usual philosophy follows Afro-minimalism and the creation of easy-to-wear clothing. The brand is for people who fully associate themselves with African minimalism, arts and culture. “Ajabeng is a Ghanaian unisex brand born at the crossroads of minimalism and contemporary African art and culture,” Travis-Obeng told OkayAfrica. “We use these two seemingly unrelated themes to create an aesthetic that conveys both the purity of minimalism and the vibrancy of African culture. We experiment with feminine and masculine design elements to create an aesthetic that is as experimental as it is conservative.”
Margaux Wong (Burundi)
Founded by Margaux Rosita, Margaux Wang is a sustainable jewelry brand based in Burundi. Since 2001, the brand has continued to use materials such as locally sourced cow horns, brass and other sustainable materials to design innovative accessories. “The Margaux Wong is an experimentation of my lifelong experience on this earth. It showcases the beauty and opulence of something that is beautifully handmade,” Rosita said. “I love a piece of timeless jewelry, and that’s what I try to share with the world. We essentially present art, longevity, timelessness and a new perspective on luxury.”
Vanhu Vamwe (Zimbabwe)
“We refer to ourselves as a brand, but we’re more of a groundbreaking community that creatively embodies through the eyes of the most honest parts of ourselves,” the Zimbabwean founder said. vamwe says OkayAfrica. “We’ve often identified our works as objects rather than handbags, as we’re interested in our community having their own interpretation of what their purchases are.”
“We are aware of the detrimental impact that running a fashion business has on the planet and on people.”
Nkwo is a sustainable Nigerian brand founded by veteran designer Nkwo Onwuka in 2007. The brand is known for reclaiming resources and transforming material waste into reusable products. “We use innovation as a tool to guide us as we move towards total zero-waste apparel production,” Onwuka said. “Our waste reduction methods pay homage to the rich tradition of textile craftsmanship in Africa and so it is a way to promote our culture and heritage in a way that is also environmentally friendly and relevant to the world. in which we live today.”
Abiola Olusola (Nigeria)
eponymous brand Abiola Adeniran-Olusola is a sustainable Nigerian brand founded in 2017. Adeniran-Olusola has worked with major fashion houses like Givenchy and Lanvin, since earning a BFA in Fashion Design from Istituto Marangoni Paris in 2015. on using sustainable materials in the manufacture of our garments, so we mainly only use cotton, silk and linen,” said Adeniran-Olusola. “We work with artisans and women across the country to bring our ideas to life. Our brand is simple, fresh and makes you feel cool.”
Founded and refocused by Nigerian-Australian Akudo Iheakanwa in 2017, Shekudo has become a household name for handmade crafts and accessories on the continent. It has become a brand that encompasses culture, craftsmanship, heritage, sustainability and empowerment. “We try to showcase our local traditions and techniques through our local fabrics and resources like metals, leather, glass and bronze,” Iheakanwa said. “We use what we can from our local environment in our designs and create products that can be enjoyed not just locally, but across the world.”
Maliko is a shoe brand that uses artisanal production techniques. “With Maliko, we are exploring different craft techniques that we can find on the continent,” Ebuka Omaliko, founder of the Nigerian shoe brand, tells OkayAfrica. “Our shoes are made in small batches. They are made ethically. We have a strong focus on fair wages and ensuring people get value for what they do.
Studio Hamaji (Kenya)
Hamaji Studio is a brand inspired by the everyday charm, nature and people of East Africa. The Kenya-based company Hamaji, which means “nomad” in local Swahili, was founded by Louise Sommerlatte in 2017 and has since become one of the most sought-after ethical brands on the continent. “Hamaji is a brand created around the preservation of ancient textile traditions and nomadic craftsmanship. It’s a tale of different stories and intertwining threads to create garments that tell a story and support local artisans,” Sommerlatte told OkayAfrica. “We only use natural fibers on our textiles and natural ingredients on our dyes.”
Larry Jay Ghana (Ghana)
Born in Ghana, Larry Jafaru Mohammed started the Larry Jay brand as an accessories line in 2012, before becoming a clothing line in 2016. Larry Jay offers his clothes to fashion-conscious people and people who love indigenous African fashion. “The brand is generally inspired by nature, various African cultures and arts,” Jay said. “Our designs exude understated style and emphasize ‘tradition and comfort.’ It’s vintage, with details and innovations that echo our West African heritage.
Viviers Studio (South Africa)
Based in South Africa, and founded by Lezanne Viviers, the Vivier studio The brand – which was founded in 2019 – has become one of the most sought after ethical brands in South Africa. Their pieces are built on quality and integrity, destined to become one-of-a-kind heirloom pieces. “For us, the hand energy involved in making every item is the highest form of luxury,” Viviers told OkayAfrica. “We always try to maintain our team’s ability to continue our work in a beautiful way, positively impacting humanity, as well as Mother Earth. Sustainability is a day-to-day approach.”
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