Tuesday, August 19, 2014



Africa’s influence in fashion, business and innovation is growing. According to trending watch.com “…Africans are expecting brands to champion, support and cater to the identities they create for themselves.”  The new Guinness ad highlights a society of “elegant” people in the Congo known as the Sapeurs. The video follows these trendsetters who believe in ‘putting more in, to get more out.’ What shapes their identity is not economic status, but creativity and respect expressed through fashion.

Beyoncé on the cover of L' Officiel Magazine

Singer Elle Varner rocks an african teacup dress on-set of video shoot
Solange in African inspired outfit on the cover of Complex magazine
Rihanna accessorizes with African bangles during her 2010 AMA performance 
African Design Makes Waves:
As African-inspired prints & patterns are becoming more popular with fashion bloggers, trend-setting celebrities (like Beyonce & Rhianna), top stylists and designers; Africa is continues to make big waves in fashion and design. African Batik fabrics such as Dutch Wax prints (also known as Wax Hollandais), Ghanaian Kente cloth and Ankara, Kanga (a fabric from East Africa) have been worn down the runways of New York, London, Milan and Paris. The Balenciaga collection for spring 2013 featured African fashion influenced by Dutch wax prints and Ankara. H&M included African elements in their 2012 collection developed by the designers of the Italian fashion label Marni.

Recently Project Makowla launched an innovative new service that allows vendors to sell their African-inspired pieces and reach their consumers all over the world in a more direct manner. Now, people can have custom pieces based created with authentic African fabrics. The process is simple. Customers send photos of their favorite design, measurements and their choice of African fabric. A seamstress from West Africa or Ghana will then create the custom piece and ship it directly to the customer.  

Nigerian-born designer Duro Olowu is another example of the impact and cultural reach that Africa is making globally. Olowu was one of the first designers to collaborate with JCPenny and released a limited edition collection in the spring of 2013. Based in London, Olowu pulls influences from his London up-bringing as well as his Jamaican and Nigerian roots. FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, is just one of the many celebrities that have been seen in his head-turning designs. 
Duro 2013 Collection for JCPenny
Another COOL movement, Africa is Now, goes beyond fashion and includes five themes to promote innovative solutions; Africa is Sharp, Urban, Tradition Reinvented, Resourceful and Transformed. As a part of the movement, the Indaba Project has been created to feature works in design, dècor and architecture across the continent. Rebranding Rwanda is is one of the projects in the works under this project. 

Other projects include developing art exhibitions and galleries in Dakar called Dak'Art. International artists are selected from all over the world with the aim of creating a global image. There is also a kickstarter campaign called BRCK which developed the first mobile wifi device built for Africa’s most undeveloped regions.

There are so many more innovative African-influenced projects happening all over  world. To get more information on these #Certified COOL and creative projects, you can visit the official Design Indaba site. You can also get in on all the cultural vibes below with our style edit! Happy shopping and stay COOL.


Check out more COOL here.

By: Joanne Joseph, COOL Contributor