Fashion Weeks are important dates in the calendar for anyone who has anything to do with fashion. The industry events bring together designers, buyers, media and other key fashion players for catwalks, presentations, trade shows, conferences, talks, panels and parties. The age of Influencers and Fast Fashion is certainly making its mark, with fashion bloggers taking their seats next to vogue editors on the front row and trade shows opening their doors to consumers as well as industry guests. The idea of presenting the “two seasons” – A/W and S/S – at two set times of year is also being challenged in both directions, with some brands increasing their number of collections a year and others turning towards slow fashion and fewer collections. That said, the central aspect of the format, which dates back to the 1940s, remains largely unchanged: brands present their collections for the next season and buyers make their orders.

Fashion weeks are platforms to exchange knowledge and make connections. Participants aim to maximize their exposure within their existing networks and open doors to new business opportunities. For all it’s a global industry, host cities are unique and their characters also influence the flavour of the different events.

In this post, we want to take you on a little journey beyond “The Big Four” (Paris, Milan, London and New York) that get mainstream press coverage around the globe and shine a light on some of the highlights of the African fashion calendar…

Gozel Green - © Lagos Fashion Week

Kampala Fashion Week

The sixth edition of the Kampala Fashion Week, Uganda’s most influential fashion platform, is taking place this weekend and invites you to come as you are. Powered by the Ugandan Fashion Council, Kampala Fashion Week was created to support and strengthen creative talent and stimulate growth and development in the design industry in Uganda.

Gloria Wavamunno founded her eponymous brand in 2009 after returning to Uganda from studying and working abroad. She saw first hand, the challenges that face young designers trying to set up a shop and build a successful brand in Uganda. Gloria was inspired by Africa Fashion Day Berlin – AFDB (the predecessor to Fashion Africa Now), founded by Beatrace Angut Oola, herself of Ugandan orgin. After taking part in AFDB in 2013 and seeing the need for a platform to give herself and her peers in Uganda the boost they needed, Gloria founded Kampala Fashion Week. The platform is about giving both established and emerging designers from Uganda and further afield in Africa the opportunity to thrive.

Watch the events unfold on Instagram: @kampalafashionweek

© Kampala Fashion Week
© Kampala Fashion Week

Black Fashion Week Paris

The latest edition of Black Fashion Week Paris, titled Black Fashion Xperience, is also taking place this weekend – 26th – 28th September 2019 – seven years since its debut in 2012. The website states that the Black Fashion experience is about “culture not colour!”; a fashion at the crossroads of cultures and bursting with fabulous creative energy. The event gives a platform to promote fashion #MadeInAfrica and to give greater international visibility to African designers and models.

Black Fashion Week Paris was founded by Adama Paris and is one of six (and counting) such events she produces that are regular fixtures of the fashion week schedules around the world: in Montreal, Prague and beyond. Adama is a Senegalese fashion designer who studied economics and briefly worked in banking before devoting herself to her true passion, taking fashion classes in Paris and launching her brand Adama Paris. Her work is currently on show in the exhibition Connecting Afro Futures. Fashion x Hair x Design at Berlin’s Museum of Decorative Arts until the 1st of December 2019.

Keep up on the latest on Instagram @blackfashionweek

African Fashion International, South Africa

South Africa has long been heralded as the ‘gateway to Africa’ and African Fashion International positions itself as the gateway to African Fashion. The company was founded in 2008 and organises unique Fashion Week showcases in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. AFI Joburg Fashion Week is up next: 10th – 12th October 2019.

African Fashion International is committed to the promotion and development of top South African and African design talent with a focus on bolstering brand’s presence on the world stage. For example, AFI’s Fastrack™ was established as an initiative to identify and invest in the continent’s best young designers.

AFI’s Founder & Executive Chairperson, Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, was named the inaugural recipient of Fashion 4 Development’s Franca Sozzani Award for her work pioneering African luxury fashion initiatives.

Follow AFI on Instagram and stay in the loop: @afi_sa

MaXhosa Africa - © African Fashion International
MaXhosa Africa - © African Fashion International
MaXhosa Africa - © African Fashion International

Lagos Fashion Week

Lagos Fashion Week (LFWNG) is an annual event that has been running since 2011 – this year’s edition is coming up in October (23rd – 26th). The fashion brand Orange Culture, who also have a fashion film in the exhibition Connecting Afro Futures. Fashion x Hair x Design will close out the third and final day of catwalk shows. LFWNG is a diversified and interactive platform that aims to cut across geographic and cultural barriers and positions itself as a business of fashion and design event, showcasing the best of the fashion and design industry. A strong focus is placed on promoting, developing and driving growth in Nigeria’s fashion production industry – ultimately aiming to uplift its profile within the country’s economy.

Like many Fashion Weeks around the world, LFWNG also expanded its scope beyond “just” organising Catwalk Shows. Two further platforms that run parallel to Fashion week have been established – Fashion Business Series which offers offering industry masterclasses and Fashion Focus, an incubator for emerging talents.

Lagos Fashion Week was founded by Omoyemi Akerele – the artistic director of Style House Files, a creative business development agency for African designers. She trained and started a career as a Lawyer before leaving that behind to set her sights on the fashion industry, and the fashion community can be thankful that she did!

Keep an eye out on Instagram in the run-up to the October date: @lagosfashionweekofficial

Maki Oh - © Lagos Fashion Week
Maki Oh - © Lagos Fashion Week

Header Image: David Tlale – © African Fashion International