Our 3-day Exhibition Design Hub and Pop-Up event – APPEARANCE – will take place from 23.09. – 25.09.2022 at the Design Zentrum Hamburg in the harbour city, it explores how colonialism, racism and capitalism in fashion interact through a discursive, performative and artistic programme. The focus is on a critical examination of fashion’s colonial past, coloniality and its continuities in our present. For this reason, we mainly want to present marginalised positions of BIPoC as well as „fashion“ practices from the global south, e.g. through fashion installations/workshop/ exhibition. While highlighting „alternative“ views, we also discuss contemporary issues related to these practices in the here and now.

The project comprises two main themes:
1) Colonial Reappraisal, 2) Deconstructing Fashion.

We will look at existing structures through a decolonial and power-critical lens and explore the knowledge implications and relations through art and fashion. Finally, we want to define the next steps to overcome existing ideologies and move towards a more sensible and conscious fashion and design production. This kind of artistic production benefits from the synthesis of different academic disciplines, artists, activism, artistic genres and formats to create an innovative conglomerate.

Benjamin Mengistu Navet

In the exhibition, the Ethiopian designer Benjamin Mengistu Navet will introduce himself with his installation – And then, nothing – (*1994, Addis- Ababa, Ethiopia). He creates a dialogue between industry and craft to question the production process of objects. Based on research on postcolonial practices in fashion and textiles, he is currently exploring his own Ethiopian background by making patterns and combining traditional with industrial techniques. He grew up in France and came to Belgium to study fashion design at La Cambre (Brussels) and textile design at the KASK School of Arts (Ghent). He moves between fashion, textiles and his artistic research. Last year he worked at Maison Margiela, and Benjamin has also worked with various textile companies in Switzerland as part of the TaDA residency programme. He also accompanied the last performance of the artist Stanley Ollivier as a textile scene artist.

Furthermore, we will present an installation by the Nigerian designer Bubu Ogisi entitled – I am not myself. Bubu Ogisi is a fibre artist and Creative director of the contemporary art brand, IAMISIGO. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, and now living between Lagos Accra Abidjan and Nairobi, she studied Fashion at the prestigious Ecole Superieure des Art et technique de la Mode (ESMOD) Paris, France. Her work spans around the idea of how the body exists and interacts with space through time, by creating wearable art pieces and installation art pieces with unconventional materials and ancient textiles techniques from all over the African continent. Her work aims to decolonise and free the mind through manipulating gravity, light, color, mass, and transparency to demonstrate the infinite transformations and iterations of materiality. The idea of rawness, anti-”finishing” (and therefore anti-Eurocentrism) and functionality exist as strong conceptual design threads throughout her work. By exaggerating texture, structure and space she is able to break and transform the rules and expectations of what textiles are into transient humanity.

Sel Kofiga

Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist Sel Kofiga, founder of The Slum Studio, is interested in many things. His practice explores new synergies that emerge from unconventional and modern structures. Sel’s approach addresses political issues of identity and belonging, depicting his relationship to them through diverse materials and media, as well as memory. To this end, he created performances, photographs, paintings and installation art. Another of Sels‘ approaches is based on the concept of space, the bodies and objects/things he inhabits and their common/shared interest. His work implies different methods that focus on the (meta) physical relationship between bodies and everyday spaces. Working between a hybrid of movement and image, in his practice he searches for the meaning of being and connection with the self. He wants to trigger a sense of horror in his audience and encourage them to search for something new. For example, his installation „Monument of the second skin“ deals with our postcolonial identities and the seemingly timeless relationship between the global North and South. The installation deals with questions that deconstruct the gaze and the image of the black body in clothing.

Escape Racism International

Sandra Mawuto Dotou

Julia Sukop

Sandra Mawuto Dotou, is an idea creator of the exhibition concept Escape Racism International. She is a freelance communication designer and visual concept developer based in Hamburg. She completed her bachelor’s degree at FHWS Würzburg and is now studying integrated design in her master’s degree at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen. Julia Sukop Project Management, Escape Racism International , together with Sandra Dotou she founded the ADC Award Gold Nail winning project „Escape Racism International“. This project, which began as a bachelor’s thesis, now consists of a team of 10 people (Michelle Pham, Sarah Pohlmann, Don Hoang, Eda Tekin, Kimberly Smart, Eva Dietrich, Richard Ley and Marcel Wicker). Together they are working on the physical realisation of the project. The project Escape Racism International has become an exhibition concept that aims to promote a critical attitude towards racism for white people with the help of historical content, interactive charts and games on privilege. It is based on the book „Exit Racism“ by the Leipzig author and civil rights activist Tupoka Ogette and is structured according to the five phases of her theory ‚Happyland‘. According to this, there are five phases in which white people deal with the issue of racism. An animated film will be presented at the Fashion Africa Nows exhibition.

Nio Far by Milcos (Senegal) also presents itself at APPEARANCE. The human being is at the centre of his design philosophy. Nio Far’s design is a way to realise and disseminate stories of societies, peoples and ethnicities. The collection is a way of presenting the result of this research. The mythology and folklore of indigenous peoples are often seen as legends and parables used to remember the elders and teach younger generations lessons in morality. But what about a tribe whose traditions give precise locations of bodies and astronomical phenomena that have not been discovered by modern science for hundreds of years? The Dogon knew the location of the star system Sirius b hundreds of years before modern telescopes could locate it. Nio Far Milcos, whose identity fabric is the Bogolan, wants to highlight and celebrate through design and technology this civilization and its almost unknown tribal knowledge.

Milcos is an Afro-optimist and Pan-African Senegalese designer, software engineer and founder of Nio Far by Milcos, a wearable art brand best known for its handmade sneakers. He particularly highlights the stories, knowledge and civilisation of African societies, using mud cloth as a canvas to visually stories. His latest collection explored Dogon cosmogony and cosmology. Milcos uses technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality and games to create conversations and extend the reach of the stories he tells in his collections. His client list includes Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys, Lupita Nyongo and many more. 

Delali Ayivi


Delali Ayivi, a Togolese and German photographer and graduate of the London College of Fashion/ UAL, will also present her art work. This image is part of Transcendence, the latest installment in the Stretch Series, created by emerging  photographer Delali Ayivi on behalf of Stretch Studio. „Transcendence was shot in two cities (London and Lomé) and explores ideas of identity, experimentation and self-awareness of both the body and the creative mind.“- Delali Ayivi. This image is also part of Ayivi’s ongoing photographic project called TogoYeye. This life project is run with her friend and collaborator Malaika Ismaella. The duo creatively directs visuals that explore the many facets of Togolese identity in Togo and its Diaspora under the umbrella of TogoYeye.

In addition, designer Sydney Nwakanma will present his CYCLES project, a conceptual short film, has the idea of exploring circularity through the means of dance, music, fashion and visual narratives. The main protagonist, Caro, moves through different locations surrounded by musical interpretations, emotions and gestures that embody these emotions. Each film segment represents a chapter of the cycle we go through as individuals, as humans, in our longing for something greater. Whether in search of asylum, trying to achieve our hopeful goals, or traumatic relationships, there is a common thread: no matter which path we take, in the end we return to the same sense of self, with greater clarity and understanding through experience.


Limala is the vision of Samira Mahboub and Zaid Charkaoui, celebrating Moroccan’s artisanal culture via highlighting the beauty behind the art of rug making within broader cultural storytelling. While we both feel deeply connected to our Moroccan heritage but are based in Berlin, it felt very organic to create a project allowing us to share our understanding of Morocco with the world. They travelled through the Atlas Mountains in search for places known for their artisanal communities specialising in rug making, and are now co-creating with small family businesses. Understanding the responsibility that comes along with engaging with Moroccan artisans, our core mission is to have a mutually uplifting work relationship with the artisans we work with, finding ways to deconstruct the postcolonial economic dependency of these rural communities. Ultimately, we are building an inclusive, mindful and conscious community with our customers and collaborators through Limala.

The identity collection is our answer to the call we were not able to ignore anymore: police brutality especially towards Black people, the censorship of the Black woman especially  in the media, the persecution of queer people throughout the world, asian hate, the overall corona situation, the growing numbers of femicides, islamophobia, antisemitism, ableism, the ongoing wars between israel and palestine, the situation and mistreatment of people seeking refuge, the exploitation of certain countries, the belittling of rural cultures, structured and indoctrined racism, precious stolen art waiting to be returned, etc. all of these things concern us all and made us reflect deeper on our identity. who we are and what decisions we make matter since we are all interconnected. Our happiness is often defined by possessions and it is not easy to escape that mindset. may this piece of identity be the beginning of your enlightened being, some fashionable company on your journey towards your true identity,  reminding you of the new cool.

Mariama Sow is an interdisciplinary artist and costume designer. Her work deals with political aspects of clothing in the context of empowerment and representation of marginalised people. Most recently, she completed her Bachelor in Fashion Design at the Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin with a research thesis on the relationship between Black bodies and clothing. PROJECTIONS documents a dance performance and research work in which Black women examine their relationships to clothing and performatively rebel against stigmatising foreign perceptions. Why do we decide on certain items of clothing and to what extent does the racist, sexist foreign perception influence these decisions? What everyday (empowerment) strategies are developed with the help of clothing, among other things, to protect oneself from stigmatisation and to counteract it?

 A film by Mariama Sow in collaboration with Isabel Kwarteng-Acheampong, Luana Naquin, Virginnia Krämer, Jasmin Eding, Camera: Yergalem Taffere Sound: Lea Malaika Som, funded by Empower Activism, ISD-Bund e.V.


We would especially like to thank our sponsors, the Goethe Institut Hamburg and the Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg. Our thanks also goes to our cooperation partners, Wildling, the Design Zentrum Hamburg and Freistil Rolf Benz. We are also delighted to have received goodies from cosmetics brand Emolyne from London and Einhorn, the sustainable contraception and periods brand. Apart from that we are delighted to have won Amarula, a creamy African liqueur and RedBull for our – APPEARANCE –  Design Hub and Pop Up event.

Cover picture: Iamisigo
Photography: Holly-Marie Cato
Credits: Ladina Bishof, Seyni B. Kimani Schumann, Delali Ayivi