Over the last few decades, fashion design has evolved from an unpopular vocation to a notable career path. Consequently, this path has become highly sought after especially among young people.
In Africa, there are scores of notable fashion designers doing very well home and abroad. In this post, we have compiled a list of the top 20 fashion designers on the continent in no particular order.
Duro Olowu is a Nigerian-born lawyer turned fashion designer. The designer began prominent when he arrived on the London Fashion Scene in 2004. Olowu is popularly called the Father of everything ‘Prints’,
He is known for his use of mixed vintage prints, bright colors and well polished cuts. His design has attracted the likes of Uma Thurman, Linda Evanagelista as well as the former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. Duro Olowu released one book named how to be kawaii and he received the award for the Designer of the Year in 2005.
Korto Momolu is a Liberian fashion designer. She left the African country in 1990 due to the civil war, and subsequently settled in Canada where she studied fashion design at the L’Academies des Couturiers Design Institute in Ottawa, Ontario.
After her education, she moved to USA where she attended the renowned Parson School of Design. She won a place on the 5th season of the prestigious Project Runway show where she emerged as 1st runner up of the show. Korto has been featured in Essence magazine, LA Times, Ladybrille.com, InStyle.com among others.
Lisa is the brain behind Jewel by Lisa. She became popular in 2005 when she created the embellished Ankara skirts in 2005. Over the years, this Nigerian designer has produced and expanded her brand, Jewel by Lisa into a wide range of clothes and jeweled accessories. Some of her clients include celebrities likes Genevieve Nnaji, Solange Knowles, Lala Vasquez and Catt Sadler.
Lisa has been featured in international media story by the likes of BBC, Essence Magazine, Marie Claire amongst others. She was selected to showcase her designs at the 2011 ARISE Made in Africa Collective at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York. She was also the winner of the African Fashion International Designer Award that same year.
David Tlale is a South African born designer. He is known for his daring, bold and dramatic designs and he has exhibited his designs on international platforms such as, Paris Fashion Week, De Beers Shining light collection, Arise Fashion week and many more.
Deola Sagoe is a role model to aspiring fashion designers in Africa and beyond. She is a Nigerian fashion icon and has gained international prominence from her couture pieces. In 2000, she received the Best African Designer award when she represented African Fashion designers at the New-York fashion week. She has also participated in major fashion shows with the likes of Donna Karen, Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Some of her clients include the likes of Naomi Campbell and Anika Nina Rose.
Kofi Ansah is a London-based Ghanaian fashion designer. He is a popular face in the Ghanian fashion industry. Also, he has been a prominent fashion icon in Africa. He was the founder and past president of the Federation of African Designers.
Lanre Da Silva Ajayi
In less than a decade, Lanre Da Silva has grown from a little known fashion designer to a fashion icon. The Nigerian designer is known for her high class and sophisticated clothing design. She often combines traditional fabrics and optical prints with a touch of different patterns to her designs. LDA has showcased her designs on international fashion shows like ARISE, New York Couture Fashion Week and Mercedez Benz Fashion Week.
Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim
The Somalian twin sisters are the brain behind Mataano. They began their fashion career when they relocated to Washington DC. Their premier collection debuted in Spring 2009 and became quite popular in the fashion industry. The twins were invited to Oprah’s show, “Young Millionaire Moguls.” They have also been featured on popular magazines like Vogue Italia, Arise Magazine and Essence Magazine.
Folake Folarin Coker launched the Tiffany Amber brand in 1998 and she has been on an upward swing since then. She was the first African-based designer to be invited to showcase her work two consecutive seasons at the New York Fashion week. Also, this Nigerian designer received the award of the designer of the year at the 2009 African Fashion International in Johannesburg.
The Ghanaian born designer was the former creative director of Givenchy. Some of Ozwald’s past clients include the likes of Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and Mick Jagger. He was awarded the ‘Top Menswear designer’ at the British Fashion Awards in 2000. He has received other awards like the OBE in 2006 by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Lifetime Award at the ARISE Fashion Week Lagos 2012.
Aisha is another prominent fashion designer from Ghana. She launched her brand in 2008 when she was in her final year at the University of Ghana. She was the only Ghanaian designer chosen to showcase in the Arise L’Afrique-a-Porter in Paris as part of Paris Fashion Week.
Mimi Plange is a Ghanaian-born designer. She has a vision to create womenswear label inspired by Victorian and African historical fashion. She grew up in California where she studied architecture and fashion before relocating to NewYork to start her fashion career. Her designs have been worn by top celebrities like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama, Princess Astrid of Belgium and Estelle
Darryl Jagga is a very unique fashion designer. He is particularly known for linking art and architecture to his designs. Darryl is a graduate of Fashion Institure of Technology (FIT), where he studied fashion design. He has worked with the likes of Calvin Klien, Victor Costa, Castle Starr and Chaiken. Some of the celebrities that have won his design include the likes Anya Monzikova, Bai Ling and Natasha Alam.
Soares Anthony is a Nigerian fashion design. He is known to blend local Nigerian fabrics with Japanese tailoring designs. His designs are known to combine masculinity and elegance.
Lola Faturoti is based in New York. She was born in Nigeria and she hails from Ondo State. Her fashion designer history can be traced to her grandmother who was also a fashion designer
She worked in the Charivari Boutique where the President of the Company noticed her potential and subsequently helped her launch her first fashion collection.
Frank Oshodi is a veteran fashion icon. He has been in the industry for close to three decades. He began his career as a model before venturing into fashion. He was the designer and makeup artist for Agbani Darego, the 2001 winner of the Miss World Pageant. He has also played prominent roles in the West African Fashion Week.
Zizi Cardow is one of the forerunners when it comes to showcasing the Nigerian fabric and culture on a global level. Her designs have been featured in many international catwalk events in places like Cape Town, Milan, Paris and the USA.
She has also been featured by top international media houses such as CNN, SABC, Channel O, and FTV.
Mai Atafo is a popular Nigerian male bespoke designer. He shot into limelight when he launched his brand, Mai Atafo. His clothing label has gained popularity and attracted the likes of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in 2005, Omowunmi Akinnifesi, I.K. Osakioduwa, Mercy Johnson, 2Baba, Waje, Gbenro Ajibade, and Stephanie Okereke.
Ade Bakare is Nigerian born fashion designer. His brand, Ade Bakare Couture is quite popular in Nigeria and London.
His work ranges from exclusive evening gowns to stylish wedding gowns, hats and fragrances. He deals with high-end clients in both Nigeria and London.
Charlene Dunbar is the creative director of Suakoko Betty, an Atlanta based fashion brand. She was born in Liberia. He designs include dresses, jumpsuits, skirts, and other fashion accessories.