Africa is setting the tone these days and not only at WDCD Live Amsterdam on 30 June & 1 July. Designer and trend watcher Sinette Hesselink sees a growing influence in fashion from the African continent.
By Sinette Hesselink

In fashion the trend of ‘abstinence’ will continue. Craft is still in the spotlight, and is becoming more ‘premium’. People deliberately choose one nice piece that is made with care and skill. The revival of handmade also has ensured that there will be invested again in preserving techniques – old and new! – that young African designers are mastering.

When Michelle Obama and Beyonce Knowles attended high-profile events in clothes made by African designers, it was a sure sign that the continent’s vibrant style has arrived on the world stage. They show a very new and distinctive image; playful, exploring the possibilities of authentic materials, all drawn from their own culture. Their designs are bold and expressive; colour and design are unexpected and fresh. Look at: Sindiso Sindiso Khumalo, Kisua by Samuel Mensah and Olowu.


It is not only an inspirational role Africa is playing (see Marni x H&M), there are also a lot of cooperation between West and South to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and culture; in 2013 Diesel started up an exchange with Edun resulting in ‘studio Africa’, Kwadusa is a Danish kidswear brand, manufactured fair trade in Africa, Afriek is a Dutch brand producing in Rwanda.

Craftsmanship plays a strong role in these contemporary designs: in Nigeria and throughout (South) Africa there are still craftsmen who can and will make outfits to measure. Unexpected shapes can be found in traditional costumes. Photographer Phyllis Galembo, who travelled across west and central Africa, documented the masquerade for her fantastic book ‘Maske’.

Perhaps African designers will eventually come up with an entirely new way of producing and consuming fashion. New…that’s something the fashion industry always is craving for!

Top image: photo by Phyllis Galembo (left); Edun spring 2016 collection (shot by Kristin Lee Moolman in Soweto, South Africa)

Sinette Hesselink is a designer and trend forecaster based in Amsterdam

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