Africa Fashion Week Brazil to boost economic and cultural ties
By Yemisi Suleiman
Queen Ronke Ademiluyi Ogunwusi, founder, Africa Fashion Week London and Nigeria has announced the introduction of the Africa Fashion Week Brazil, in collaboration with the Brazilian Embassy in Lagos.
Omoba Adekunle Adeyemo, The Consul General of Brazil, Ministro André Veras Guimarães, Olori Ronke Ademiluyi Ogunwusi Founder Africa Fashion Week, Olori Afolashade Ademola and Kola Adeyemo
This edition of Africa Fashion Week which is scheduled to hold between 25th, 26th to 27th of May, 2023 at the Expo center in São Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil, she said will boost cultural and economic ties between Africa and Brazil.
The event is also aimed at creating a synergy in the fashion industry between Brazil and Africa, promote economic growth, boost cultural ties, as well as provide a platform for future cooperations.
Speaking during a press briefing to announce the event at the Consulate General of Brazil in Lagos, Ministro André Veras Guimarães, the Consul General of Brazil said the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria was established by Queen Ronke Ademiluyi Ogunwusi in 2014 with the aim of promoting emerging Africa fashion designers on global platforms.
Guimarães said the fashion industry promotes diversity of culture expressions, values, creativity and depicts the tradition of textiles and craftsmanship.
He stated the fashion and textile industry in Africa is growing, adding that as at November, 2022, the sub-saharan Africa Apparel sector was reported to have an estimated worth of $31billion.
African textiles and fashion, he said are spreading around the world.
He said the fabrics and prints mostly derived from natural fibres, cottons and various colour dires featured Africa cultural symbols.
“Fashion and clothing matter to the economy, society and individuals. The industry generates activities in trade, it creates employment opportunities,”Guimarães said.
Speaking on the similarities between Nigeria and Brazil,
Guimarães noted that the initiative is very important, to bring societies together as we are similar in many ways. “We have to make the African fashion known in Brazil and because we have a large, not only black population, but Yoruba population, we have the status here as I said, that is a state where if any of you go to, you will feel at home. You will fit in because of the clothes, the music and traditions we have.”
He noted that holding the Africa Fashion Week in Brazil is a great initiative that will be greatly harnessed to the good of both countries. “And like I told Her Majesty Olori Ronke Ogunwusi, that we can go deeper after this Africa Fashion Week. We will offer scholarships. We can send people to study fashion in Brazil, and they will have the immigrant status. They have a free scholarship, all they need to do is just apply, to be selected. Of course there is a selection process but we can explore these educational paths.
We need to bring our societies to be closer. So I believe this partnership with Africa Fashion Week and Brazil with grow great fruits in future.” He concluded.
Giving a grief overview of the AFW, at the event, Queen Ronke Ademiluyi Ogunwusi, founder Africa Fashion Week London, Nigeria and Brazil said the Africa Fashion Week started in 2011 in London and was created as a platform to bridge the gap between Africa designers, black designers and the general public.
“When we started over a decade ago, there wasn’t a platform that brought together African designers and the global audience. Most of the platforms were mainstream platforms and a lot of people then shy away from Africa fashion. So African fashion was considered then as more traditional. People were not proud to wear Africa fashion especially in the diaspora.
“I grew up in London, I was born there. I knew we did not have that exposure to African fashion like we do now where we have amazing, phenomenon African designers both in Nigeria and abroad that are doing so many wonderful things with our textiles and our fabrics.
“There was an urgent need to create a platform that showcased the great creativity of Africa designers. This gave birth to Africa Fashion Week, London. In 2014, we created a sister brand called ‘Africa Fashion Week, Nigeria,” Ogunwusi explained.
She said the reason why she crated the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria was to enable her and her team to reach out to talented designers within Nigeria and Africa who could not afford the logistics of travelling during the international show.
“It is going to be our 9th year this year and Africa Fashion Week, London is going to be our 13th year this year,” she added.
Ogunwusi said she has givien birth to a new baby, Africa Fashion Week, Brazil and this will boost economic ties and deepen presence of Africa fashion on a global map.
She noted that The Nigerian fashion industry is worth trillions of naira, that we just have to look inwards to know how we can make it work. “A lot of students after graduation, complain about no jobs not being able to do anything, so we encourage vocational skills training and that is one of the reasons why His Majesty, the Ooni of Ife Ojaja Ogunwusi, set up the Adire Textile Hub, in 2021. Since its inception, we have trained over 500 young women and youths to take up this skill. A lot of our young graduates, you know, come out or after graduating, they’re not in jobs, they’re not in employment, so we equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
“We also have our Tech Startup, which is also a branch of the African Fashion Week, which is to encourage young people to come and learn how to make Adire, where we teach them different skills in it. So in a nutshell what we’re seeing today is we’re encouraging young people to take up vocational training. We’re also using fashion as an instrument of wealth creation, job creation and economic empowerment.” Olori Ronke Adewusi concluded.
The Africa Fashion Week Brazil 2023, will feature a population of Nigerian and other African designers, and designers in diaspora, who will not only showcase their creativity with their collections, but the event according to Olori Ronke will also see an exchange of cultural fashion.
“Their clothes tell stories about their culture. It’s going to be like an exchange of culture, an educational platform, that exchanges, talks about our culture and preservation of our cultural heritage.” She concluded.