Hi! Can I try to surprise you a bit?
The ankara fabric (pictured below) is very well known and worn in West Africa countries, so many Africans erroneously believe that the fabric has African roots. However, history has messed up with us badly: ankara actually originates from an Asian country – Indonesia. In fact, we kinda got the fabric through slave trade (straight face).
How?? During the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, textile factory owners discovered the locally made Indonesian batik and tried to replicate using machine printing processes. The resulting fabric (now called ankara) was rejected in the Indonesian market, but was strongly received in West Africa during the colonial period.
Now, it has largely grown to become an important part of the African fashion.
Do you feel regardless of its origin, ankara is still a part of the African culture? comment below
By the way, I am super excited to introduce to you 5 fashion brands that I have come to love so much. Besides having very beautiful fashion pieces with class and style, these fashion brands are so different from the traditional ones in that they practice sustainable fashion!
#1 Lisa Folawiyo
My fav of all time!!
Lisa Folawiyo has been featured on Vogue, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, and many other international magazines and her collections have been shown on international platforms; Johannesburg, London, Paris, Milan and New York.
Her style is so elegant, unique, ultrachic… simply extraordinaire. To prove me right, her pieces have been worn by celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o, Kelis, Solange, Lucy Liu, Alicia Quarles, Thandie Newton, Angela Simmons and Lala Anthony. Whoop!
How Sustainable? Artisanal – Preserving traditions
Asides the gorgeous pieces, I love this brand because it supports fair work for local expert artisans in Nigeria, in the process preserving hand-craftsmanship, culture and traditions.
These artisans work in safe working conditions hand-embellishing every of the brand’s pieces and get opportunities to be introduced to the international community (Lisa Folawiyo works in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, to partner local artisans in West and East Africa with international fashion brands).
You can wear the brand knowing that you are helping someone and out culture get out there.
I love Nkwo! The brand represents African Modern! The only brand I have seen turn the popular Ghana must go bags into beautiful head gears. You will find the clothes truly free-spirited, clearly inspired by the nomads of the Sahara. The prints are unique and very beautiful too.
How Sustainable? – Responsible Production, Upcyling
Nkwo started a sustainability project where the main focus is textile waste reduction through innovative cutting techniques, recycling and fabric manipulation. In the process, a modern ‘strip weaving’ technique emerged.
Also, from left over pieces of denim, Nkwo produced a new fabric (called the Dakala Cloth) that looks much like hand woven clothes. Amazing!
Yemzi is another exceptional brand. The prints are particularly striking. You will definitely feel like a daring self-confident woman wearing them. Roarr!
How Sustainable? – Responsible production, female empowerment
Yemzi is conscious about the fabrics used for its pieces, specifically natural fibres, azo free dyes and GOTs certified fabrics are sourced for each piece.
Much more, the founder Elizabeth-Yemi runs design workshops to teach teenage girls design skills and helps them to channel their creativity into a successful career in fashion.
#4 Labake Lagos
I only recently discovered Labake Lagos on Instagram. Although, it’s only a startup recently founded by Labake Anyebe, I could not ignore the creative mix of sustainability and fashion and quickly added the brand to my list of most loved. This brand has so much potential.
How Sustainable? – Upcycling
Labake Lagos sources for used materials and upcycles them into new designs which includes women wears, men wears and accessories.
Recently, the brand released a collaborative line of tote bags titled “ÀTÚNṢE”, a Yoruba word that translates into “Up-Cycle”. Leftover fabrics from apparel manufacturing company “Human Capital Development Center” (HCDC) were infused with various designs of Damask, a contemporary African fabric.
Another young brand on the list, only recently launched in 2018. Ekete is an accessories fashion brand that produces intricately hand woven basket bags with detail.
How Sustainable? – Ethical, Artisanal
The brand uses locally grown natural fibers; cane and raffia peculiar to the eastern and northern villages of Nigeria, combined with the finest leather and African print for production. In addition, every bag is handcrafted by local artisans; a process that takes about 5-7 days to complete.
Our goal is to contribute to the creation of sustainable jobs for artisans within Nigeria, promote fair trade and reawaken the love and desire for authentic African craftsmanship.Ekete
Thank you for following closely I hope this post inspired you to be creative and sustainable in whatever you do. To those wondering what sustainable fashion entails, here is a summary from Industrie Africa.
Other Fashion brands? PS: Click on them to learn more
I might have been biased in my list ‘cos the clothing brands I listed only do women’s wears (shy face). So bring it on guys (and ladies)…what fashion brands do you think should be on this list? Please share in the comment section.