A A K S was founded by Ghanaian designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi with the intention of introducing the traditional weaving techniques she remembers from childhood to an international audience. Each piece is crafted into contemporary silhouettes with locally sourced raffia—the exuberant colors capturing the spirited essence of the brand.
Born in Nigeria and now based in Nairobi, Adele Dejak’s namesake jewelry brand draws inspiration from a variety of African and European cultural influences. Each piece is expertly handcrafted out of recycled materials, with her statement-making aesthetic extending to daring neckpieces and elegant earrings with sculptural silhouettes.
Kenya’s natural beauty is an enduring source of inspiration for designer Ami Doshi Shah. Trained as a jeweler and silversmith in the U.K., she was drawn back to her native country and launched her namesake label twelve years after graduating. Her pieces can be characterized by their unexpected, sculptural designs and spellbinding natural materials consisting of local metals and minerals
Nigerian swim and ready-to-wear designer Dumebi Iyamah created Andrea Iyamah to pay tribute to the native designs of her home country and other African nations. A celebrity favorite, her resortwear oozes versatility and can be worn straight from the beach to the street. Stand-out features include vibrant digital prints, and unique cut-out silhouettes.
Hailing from Mali, Awa Meité is recognized as a multi-talented fashion and textile designer, filmmaker, stylist and painter. Based in Mali’s Bamako, Meité’s label spotlights local artisans who are responsible for some of the country’s most thoughtful garments and accessories. Her ready-to-wear pieces come in an array of striking silhouettes and hand-woven fabrics, and pay homage to her country’s rich history of craftsmanship and design.
Ghanaian designer Aisha Ayensu credits her seamstress grandmother as her first teacher and inspiration behind her label, Christie Brown. Inspired by traditional West African prints and textiles, Ayensu’s ready-to-wear offering is as timeless as it is modern. She captures the spirit of a fearless and feminine woman with a dynamic vision—she’s never self-compromising and lives by her own rules.
Zanzibar-based Doreen Mashika creates breezy, island-appropriate silhouettes inspired by the colors and textiles of her Tanzanian heritage. East African Kanga prints feature prolifically in Mashika’s designs, and most of her elegant pieces are crafted from light fabrics; this is artful resort-wear fit for your jet-setting lifestyle.
Founded in Nigeria by Emmanuel Okoro, Emmy Kasbit was born out of a passion to dress the unconventional man and woman with fierce sartorial instincts. Strong, architectural silhouettes are featured throughout each collection, with fabrics made by local Nigerian artisans using traditional West African weaving techniques. The result is a fantastic juxtaposition of bold lines, and vibrant colors and textures.
Years before Nigerian designer Frank Aghuno launched his ready-to-wear line Fruché, he’d take his mother’s Ankara head scarves and practice sewing them into revealing outfits. Today, each collection is designed for Aghuno’s modern woman; his work features elegant silhouettes crafted from sumptuous Nigerian fabrics, designed to challenge societal notions of how Nigerian women are expected to dress.
Based between Lagos, Nairobi and Accra, IAMISIGO is a womenswear brand from designer Bubu Ogisi, dedicated to preserving the ancestral textile techniques of her heritage. The designer works with small artisanal communities across the continent and shines a spotlight on their age-old techniques. The result is collections of carefully considered wearable art pieces, each captivating in their respective designs.
Founded by Jennifer Mulli in 2016, Jiamini is a Kenya-based fashion and accessories label made for women by women. Each piece is artisanally crafted out of precious and repurposed materials, their statement-making aesthetic explored through elaborate beaded collars, sculptural takes on earrings and arm cuffs, and woven basket bags.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Known best for its exuberant prints and feminine cuts, New York-based, Congolese-born designer Kahindo Mateene launched her eponymous brand in 2009, inspired by her pan-African upbringing and experiences, where she was exposed to many cultures and different styles of artisanry. She applies a multicultural sensitivity to every collection, with each contemporary piece paying tribute to Mateene’s affinity for bold colors and prints.
Khokho in siSwati means "grandmother;" a reference to the brand's entirely women-led team and its matriarchal influences. The accessories label—which operates out of Eswatini (formerly known in English as Swaziland)—seeks to preserve and elevate traditional Swati weaving techniques, while empowering the community by providing income and learning opportunities. Basket-style bags are crafted from locally sourced natural fibers, found in the country's indigenous vegetation, and finished with luxury details—from ethically sourced and hand-carved cow-horn tags, to luxury brass hardware which is expertly crafted in Italy.
KikoRomeo has been igniting the Kenyan fashion scene since 1996. Led by Iona McCreath, the label offers sustainable, contemporary designs crafted by local artisans using traditional hand-dyeing techniques. At the heart of the brand is a nod to Kenyan culture, which can be noted in the brand’s quirky details that pay tribute to the country’s art and music scene.
Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo’s intricate, embellished designs have extended far beyond her home country—pieces from her eponymous label have appeared on the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Thandie Newton and Solange Knowles, as well as on the pages of some of the world’s leading publications. The designer pays homage to her love of Ankara textiles in her pieces, crafted by a team of expert local artisans who take on average up to 240 hours creating a single hand-embellished piece.
Established in New York City in 2009, Loza Maléombho’s self-titled brand soon made its way to the Côte d’Ivoire, a country in which the designer spent much of her childhood. Her pieces are crafted by local Ivorian artisans and feature bold decorative details—an ode to the synergies between Ivorian tribal aesthetics and New York City’s urban style.
MYKILIM is a contemporary leather goods brand based in Paris, and produced in Morocco. Founded by Mehdi, Mustapha and Alice Benosman, each of their timeless, modern designs feature prominent touches of repurposed kilim tapestries and employ leather cutoffs, two standout elements that represent the trio’s passion for their French and African heritages, and their championing of sustainable practices.
Named after the Moroccan city of Tangier, the label was born in 2014 by designer Kenza Bennani out of a desire to create an accessories line that paid tribute to the city’s diversity and rich history, one that bridges both Arabic and European cultures. These influences can be witnessed in the colorful, painstakingly crafted handbags created by Moroccan artisans using North African textiles and techniques. Since launch, the brand's pieces have garnered a small cult following of editors and artists.
Sustainable brand NKWO relaunched in 2012 in Nigeria, with a focus on the preservation of traditional craft while curbing the damaging effects of textile waste. Each ready-to-wear piece is crafted using traditional West African weaving, beading, hand-dyeing and embroidery. The designer created her own fabric—using a modern strip weaving technique—dubbed “Dakala.” This hand-loomed upcycled fabric has a distinctively rich feel and is featured in each collection.
Led by creative director Akébéhi Kpolo, Ivorian jewelry brand Ohiri creates conceptual pieces that serve as both sartorial adornments and artistic statements. Their approach is to understand the symbolism of ornamentation in certain ancient African cultures and to reinterpret it through different mediums, making free and abstract designs that are wholly unique and thoughtfully sustainable.
South African entrepreneur, sustainability advocate, and designer Hanneli Rupert noticed a plethora of African-inspired goods while living in London, but realized few were actually produced on the continent. In 2008 she launched Okapi, her handbag and accessories label in Cape Town, showcasing South Africa’s expert artisanry and natural materials. The brand has since been recognised for pioneering the use of African game skins including Bleskbok leather, which is ethically sourced as a sustainable byproduct of the country’s pre-existing farming industry.
Launched in 2011, Lagos-based men’s and womenswear label Orange Culture creates silhouettes with unexpected twists and employs artisanal techniques, native to the Yoruba community, into his textiles. A former LVMH Prize and Woolmark Prize semi-finalist, his daring and gender non-conforming approach to design has built him a global cult following.
At the Patrick Mavros headquarters in the hilly outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, wildlife and family are the central priority. The family business is operated out of a studio and wildlife sanctuary, which the four Mavros brothers call home. Each piece, inspired by Zimbabwe’s extraordinary wildlife, is hand-crafted with sterling silver and 18-karat gold, intended to be timeless heirlooms that will be handed down between future generations.
Pichulik is an ethical jewelry brand based in Cape Town, South Africa. Rooted in its African heritage and inspired by ancient traditions and cultures around the world, the label seeks to empower women and impart sacred feminine wisdom with its bold designs. Rope is used as the principal medium throughout the labels’ collection of earrings, bracelets and necklaces, reimagined as a symbol of liberation and freedom of self.
Founded in Egypt in 2012 by Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem, Reform Studio was born out of a desire to remedy Egypt’s mounting problem with discarded plastic and to provide employment opportunities to local female artisans. Each accessory is offered in a vibrant array of colors, and is hand-crafted from Plastex—an upcycled material invented by the designers, using discarded plastic bags and cotton threads.
Sustainable footwear and accessories brand Shekudo was relaunched in 2018 at the helm of designer Akudo Iheakanwa. The brand prides itself on the use of traditional Nigerian materials, such as Aso-Oke and Akwete cloths. Every piece shows off the brand’s contemporary aesthetic and shines a spotlight on Nigeria’s age-old techniques such as weaving and woodwork.
Sidai Designs is deeply rooted in Maasai culture. Since 2011, designers Eszter Rabin and Rebecca Olivia Moore have been collaborating with female Maasai artisans to create contemporary designs made from traditional beading techniques belonging to their community. The result is wearable art pieces—striking adornments that have captured the attention of major stores across the globe.
Launched in 2013 by friends and co-founders Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson, Studio 189 focuses on creating one-of-a-kind pieces that harness traditional African textiles with fashion-forward silhouettes. Every piece is made in Ghana, using traditional dyeing techniques such as hand-batiking and indigo. The result is a collection of versatile, city-appropriate garments that celebrates the remarkable craftsmanship of the African diaspora.
Founded in 2008 by Mozambican design duo Taibo Bacar and Tatiana Ismael, the eponymous label offers a range of luxurious pieces in lively prints, cut to ultra-feminine silhouettes. Each piece is inspired by African nobility and royalty—a tribute to the strength of African heritage.
Founded by Ethiopian designer Abai Schulze, ZAAF has garnered wide media attention for its artisanal selection of leather handbags. Each piece is handmade by local craftsmen, and features details with influences that can be traced to Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage.