There’s not a lot of coverage on African Fashion Week Los Angeles so I thought I’d write about it. This came to mind after seeing a picture on social media of Claire Sulmers wearing a beautiful ankara dress made by Rahyma Designs. I think it’s a rather strategic move that they partnered with Fashion Bomb Daily this year.
According to their website, “Africa Fashion Week Los Angeles (AFWLA) is a unique and innovative event focused on bridging the gap between US buyers and African designers and artists. Our objective is to enhance the African textile and art industry by providing a platform for established and emerging African creatives to showcase their talents to a broad audience. AFWLA allows designers and artists to take advantage of global opportunities and gain international exposure while growing their businesses therefore, boosting the African economy. We define Africa in diasporic terms, which include designers, artists and affiliates with links to the African continent from all parts of the globe. AFWLA is committed to exhibiting collections of excellence and we aim to provide potential buyers with a diverse array of pieces and looks. AFWLA events include runway shows, art exhibitions, industry networking mixers, pop up shops, and more. Our events and programs link international partners, business leaders, local buyers, agents, editors, celebrities, and industry insiders to the vibrant fashion and art that Africa has to offer.”
While going over the internet scrambling for coverage of the event, I found the following interview on OkayAfrica’s website. It was quite an interesting read. I’m sure you will agree with me on that.
What is AFWLA? How would you describe it?
Africa Fashion Week Los Angeles (AFWLA) is a unique and innovative event focused on bringing investors into Africa, encouraging trade and export, and promoting African cultures. Our objective is to enhance the African textile and clothing industries by providing a platform for established and emerging African designers to showcase their talents to a broad audience. AFWLA allows designers to take advantage of global opportunities and gain international exposure while growing their businesses and boosting the African economy. Africa Fashion Week Los Angeles was founded in response to the growing need in the Greater Los Angeles area to have a cultural showcase that features dynamic African talent.
Who’s behind it?
AFWLA was founded by Nnenna Obioha and Onyinyechi Egeonuigwe. They were drawn into the world of fashion show production when they realized that the fashion industry plays an integral role in supporting and developing small businesses and promoting entrepreneurship. Ms. Obioha and Ms. Egeonuigwe’s vision is to bring African fashion to the international stage.
How long have you been in the fashion industry?
Onyinyechi, the Creative Director of AFWLA, has been involved in the fashion industry for several years. She has been involved in many aspects of the industry including working as a hairstylist for editorial spreads, runway shows, and commercial campaigns, and working in fashion show production.
Why did you decide to organize an African fashion week in Los Angeles?
The company chose Los Angeles because it’s a powerful diverse market that plays an major role in fashion trends, and we’re both based in LA.
Today, we have the emergence of many “African fashion weeks” in many cities. Should “African fashion” also be present in “regular” fashion weeks? What do you think about it? Is there any discrimination?
The non-representation of black designers in “regular” fashion weeks has allowed for us to create this niche. However, the ideal situation would be for these designers to have just as much press and representation as their Caucasian counterparts. We would just like to see more color in “regular” fashion weeks. This is also the case for black models. It’s important to us to promote the beauty that is the black woman. It should also be important to mainstream designers and “regular” fashion weeks as well.
What are you thinking of the African fashion industry today?
The African fashion industry has the potential to be one of the largest in the world. We have a great deal of diverse talent on the continent and in other parts of the world.