Culture and Commerce Meet Fashion @AFWL 2023
By Yemisi Suleiman
The 13th edition of the Africa Fashion Week London, AFWL, kicked off on Friday, October 27, with a first-of-its-kind UK Africa Trade Expo held at the Prestigious Institute of Directors IoD, St James, UK.
The expo which heralded this year’s AFWL featured seasoned speakers, insightful panel discussions, and case studies, aimed at promoting fashion, trade, and commerce in Africa.
Day two of the AFWL, highlighted some of Africa’s emerging and established designers, at a vibrant exhibition and runway that showcased Africa’s burgeoning textile industry, culture, and creativity, giving us a preview into next season’s trends.
Nigeria’s young talent, Simiogiemie sent models down the runway in an absolutely feminine collection dedicated to her late mother. Making use of digital arts on fabric to explore her creativity, Simi Ogieme designed pleated dresses and boubous in light colour, flowy, and easy on the eyes. All-time AFWL favourite, Mary Martin London, returned this year with a brilliant showcase of her Angelic collection, which featured lots of gold sting fabric, shredded silk, tulle, and butterflies, made into lovely ozone dresses.
This year also saw the return of the KwaZulu-Natal, South African Fashion Collective after their debut show at the event years back. The KwaZulu-Natal collection, which consisted of cut-out dresses, colourful dramatic designs made from Kente, Shwe Shwe, and Indigo fabrics, was an expression of the breathtaking beauty of South Africa and its diverse culture.
Nigeria’s indigenous fabric the Adire keeps soaring as designers, led by the Adire Oodua textile hub, showcased the Adire in various designs, highlighting the beauty of the African fabric and the woman’s form.
With over 20 designers, a vibrant exhibition, a collaborative catwalk, and a business development program, the AFWL founded 13 years ago by Olori Aderonke Ademiluyi-Ogunwusi has led the way in highlighting Africa’s emerging designers and apparel industry. She has also been at the forefront of bringing awareness of Africa’s flourishing fashion industry the international market.