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Setting the ramp on fire

When one thinks of Africa, many ideas come to mind. To many minds it is still the land of tribes, has a rich and diverse presence of humanity, thriving with culture and heritage. Over a period of time some momentous developments have taken place in African fashion. First of all this has to do with perception. African prints and fabrics are no longer seen as traditional wear. African clothing is known for its colourful fabrics and distinctive designs. It is influencing fashion throughout the world. African clothing has been adapted and adopted – women around the world are wearing bubas (tops), soras (wrap skirts) and geles (head ties).  

One might think that all this was most conducive for the growth of fashion industry. On the contrary there was no real fashion industry in South Africa. All they have obtained during colonial period in the continent was custom made clothing, made by self taught tailors using local and imported fabrics. As time passed the self taught tailors transformed themselves into designers. These designers realised the importance of a fashion industry and founded the first ever fashion week in 1997 – The South African Fashion Week where all member designers could get to know each other – everybody from the buyers to the clients. The purpose of the fashion week was to unite all South African designers. The fashion week showed the world the arrival of contemporary African fashion, about the creativity and plenty of talent which is available in South Africa.

There are a growing number of African designers who showcase their work on ramps outside Africa. The creativity and determination of designers like Gavin Rajah, Ozwald Boateng, Tiffany Amber is unmistakable and the list is endless if one were to write about all African designers who have helped put Africa on the fashion map of the world. These designers have made history, their collections have been showed at the world's most famous fashion capitals including New York, Milan, London and Paris fashion weeks. The future of South African fashion industry is very bright with a new breed of talented designers showcasing prêt-a-porter and haute couture collections at major fashion weeks around the world. While African designers clearly have the added advantage of skilled artisanal work, the challenge they face is of competing with speed and mass productions.  Africa has been inspiring fashion trends the world over. It is being recognised as a valuable producer of fashion. Well the season is already here as the temperatures soar on African lands, the vibrant colours and prints roar. Let's look at some of the key trends which will shine and sizzle through the heat.

Bright colours
Bright colours are a must in summer. Beautiful and vibrant shades of Green, Orange, Pink and Blue took to the runways which predict a very colourful spring summer.

Black and White
Monochrome, especially all black and white fashion remains the biggest trend this season. This head to toe look has been seen up and down the runways, it continues to be a favourite with designers, with geometric prints and stripes. Mix and match different patterns look best for head to toe monochrome look.

Sheer
In line with the hot international trend, delicate sheer can be trendy with an outfit which has layering, a lot of designers have experimented with sheer ensembles. Ranging from the sexy sheer embellished dresses- the options to pick from are many.

Peplum
Lovely Peplums seem not to want to go out of style, they appeared all over African fashion runways they have become even trendier and more spectacular with sharp modern cuts appearing on dresses, skirts, blouses and other pieces. Designers showcased a great mix of cuts with bright colours and sheer.

Prints
Prints in all shapes and sizes took to the runways for spring summer. This season’s floral are in soft pastels and vibrant hues all of these are some variation of the garden theme.  Women love prints it is the fact. Wear them with pride ladies. Prints from graphic, digital or grainy inspired, dreamy floral.

One shouldered
Asymmetry with a twist is in vogue this season, it can be worn with floral prints. Asymmetry is reflected make that highlights best features and smartly covers up the whole look so put your best arm forward in one-shouldered dress.

Ruffles
Spotted lot of ruffles on the runway but not typical ruffled skirts, some designers have taken the ruffle to a more daring level, sweet flirty ruffles popped up on everything from hemlines to collars to sleeves of blouses, on skirts giving more volume to the entire body.

Conceived by Kalyan Mukherjee, Consulting Editor, Africa
Research by Aman Ramrakha
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