AFI comes of age with a strong lineup and new ventures

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Sheria Ngowi

Some of the highlights from the shows and installations included some forty-four designers from South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, and Kenya, over three days, between 17 and 19 August 2017.

FRI, AUGUST 25 2017-theG&BJournal-(AMA)/- African Fashion International’s (AFI) Fashion Weeks have always been known for their world-class fashion events, showcasing designers from all over the continent in Joburg and in Cape Town.

This past Fashion Week was significant, for a strong, well-curated lineup and great announcements. It also marked the conclusion of a 6-year partnership with title sponsor Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

While AFI celebrated its 10-year anniversary, the announcement that CEO and Founder of AFI, Dr Moloi-Motsepe, had been nominated for the Fashion 4 Development Franca Sozzani Award was an affirmation that African Fashion is moving in the right direction.

The international award, commemorating the late Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani, will be held in New York in September, during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Dr Moloi-Motsepe was nominated for her considerable efforts in connecting, creating and promoting African fashion designers, and opening up new avenues for disadvantaged women.

“I am immensely honoured to receive the award on behalf of all the designers, producers, fashion journalists, models and other stakeholders who have been part of our journey in taking African fashion to a global arena. I hold Franca Sozzani in high esteem for her work in the fashion industry, in particular her work in profiling African designers and her passion for our continent’s creatives. With this award, I hope to work with others to further propel African Fashion and make it globally relevant and commercially successful.”

AFI has, over the years, built a strong and diverse ecosystem of fashion lovers, writers, creators, curators and innovators across South Africa and the continent at large. The strong pan-African lineup, a result of very careful curation of the best fashion artists and entrepreneurs on the continent, is what keeps the crowds coming back to see the latest works of these talented designers, season after season.

From the exquisite outfits on display against the beautiful backdrop of Mall of Africa’s outdoor amphitheatre, to an exceptional showcase of Spring/Summer ’17 collections on the runway, this year’s Fashion Week, again, put African excellence under the international spotlight.

Dr Moloi-Motsepe, an avid supporter of women and women’s rights, leveraged the fashion platform to create an inclusive campaign in recognition of Women’s Month. She invited iconic, celebrated men and women in business, sports, and media to walk the ramp in T-shirts bearing the award-winning author’s, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, highly-acclaimed essay – ‘We Should All Be Feminists.’

AFI excited crowds with this call to action, with well-known South African personalities; Thuli Madonsela, Phuti Mahanyele, Philisiwe Buthelezi, Boity Thulo, Ayanda Thabethe, Thembi Seete and football stars Anthony Laffor, Zakri and others.

“With the privilege of owing a platform like AFI, comes the responsibility to use the platform to send meaningful messages and uplift the woman who work towards propelling the fashion industry in Africa,” comments Dr Moloi-Motsepe.

Some of the highlights from the shows and installations included some forty-four designers from South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, and Kenya, over three days, between 17 and 19 August 2017. AFI Privé, an in-house brand, has employed two previous AFI Fastrack™ finalists as the design team and launched a ready-to-wear Spring/Summer collection that was well received. The AFI Privé brand will be available at the Mall of Africa, in a beautifully curated pop-up store in the Crystal Court.

Fabiani’s first foray into womenswear included a stunning range of delicate dresses in royal blue, black and gold. Ruff Tung elicited cheers from the crowd and set social media abuzz with the debut of its Inclusive Collection, a range designed for women of all sizes, from 32-42.

Another first for AFI was Xperience AFI (XAFI), a three-day fashion and lifestyle festival held in a parking bay at the Mall of Africa. XAFI gave fashion-savvy millennials a unique space to enjoy all the thrills of Fashion Week, while expressing their individuality through fashion. The Threaded Man, a forward-looking social media and fashion platform, was invited to consult and work with the AFI team in curating XAFI.

Along with a live-stream of the Fashion Week catwalk and incredible local entertainment, XAFI-goers enjoyed a live showcase of collections from nine talented African designers, including Swanker, Innani, La Familia and OhYesLord. Those who could not attend can check out the hashtag, #RootedinStyle on Instagram and Twitter for a glimpse of some of the XAFI cool kids.

The Fashion Week experience also included an AFI Africa Trending Masterclass session, which took place on Saturday, 19 August 2017, and was attended by over eighty-five industry stakeholders. The Masterclass shed light on the latest trends in fashion and retail across Africa, represented by Trend Analyst, Cultural Strategist and proud ‘Africanist’, Nicola Cooper, as well as Dave Nemeth, owner at Trend Forward and one of South Africa’s top creative influencers. The Masterclass offered valuable insight into the world of trends, how they come to be, and the impact they have on customer experience.

As the excitement of Fashion Week settles down, Dr Moloi-Motsepe and the AFI Team would like to thank all designers, sponsors, media, partners, suppliers, and the industry at large for their contributions towards making Fashion Week a huge success, and looks forward to welcoming everyone to AFI Cape Town Fashion Week, in March 2018.

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