Fashion has gone beyond styling your outfits to make an entrance for an event and has grown into a valuable source of identity for a lot of people around Africa. A new age of Africans has taken pride in understanding who they are and their individuality which trickles down to their style and the fashion brands they look up to. This has impacted the scene and its growth, with brands having to innovate and spark the continuously evolving minds of the continent’s growing fashion-forward lovers. Brands are pushing harder than ever to bring their audience closer to the story that comes with creating each piece.
We compiled a list of 10 fashion brands in West Africa that are impacting society in 2022. These brands have created a sense of oneness and explored a deeper sense of what it takes to represent Africa in fashion in our current time.
Free The Youth
The fashion industry thrives on storytelling as this is a major source of inspiration to create exceptional pieces around the world.
Free The Youth, is a clothing brand with a solid history, mission, and vision. FTY has become more of a movement than a clothing brand, most of FTY’s products are closely based on the Founders’ Jonathan Coffie, Kelly Foli, Shace Winfred Mensah, and Ormano Ghanaian heritage. Tapping into their early days as kids growing up on the less privileged side as a medium of storytelling as well as educating Ghanaians and the world about their homegrown heroes and stories. FTY has been able to focus not only on pushing the stories of where they come from to the world but also make cool products that range from Tees, denim-wears, caps, shirts, bags, belts, and many more offerings that can be seen on stars like Davido, Wizkid, Stormzy, Amaarae, Patrick Evra and many others.
FTY has been featured on notable platforms like Highsnobiety, BOF, I-d, Dazed, and many others. Boasting a handful of impressive collaborations such as Daily Paper, META, ChanceTheRapper and Tiktok. They also opened their flagship store in Accra earlier this year.
To push their vision further, FTY (probably the first African clothing brand to do it) recently concluded a European Tour which had the brand do pop-ups and throw parties across 5 different European countries. Showing that African, homegrown brands can have a global appeal around the world and compete with other brands as well. With this movement, you can tell that Africa is making its stamp on the global map.
Pith Africa is creativity at its finest, the brand has shown an audacious approach toward sustainable fashion as the need for sustainability cannot be overemphasized. Some of their collections, with emphasis on their denim, are sourced from Thrift markets all around Lagos and recreated into a variety of products with their acclaimed ‘Pith Stock’ denim as one of the company’s stand-out offerings.
The brand’s logomania-infused designs, unique visual identity, and cool products have caught the eye of many young Nigerians. Pith Africa has been on a hot streak since last year, growing dominance as one of the hottest brands to break through the Nigerian fashion landscape recently. Not only have they been able to create a growing community (one that’s become a place for different subcultures ranging from LGBTQ, to the growing skateboarding scene) but also you can spot Pith products which cut across different varieties ranging from hats, and shoes, jumpsuits, tees, shirts, on stars like BOJ, Rema, Ayra Starr, Adekunle Gold, Sho Madjozi and Fireboy.
This year, Pith has collaborated with impactful brands such as Kkerele, Eggcorn Digital, and ThisIsUs and has an upcoming mind-blowing collaboration with WAF. They’ve also thrown parties and held pop-ups for their growing community with Ps and Qs – a party/pop-up held in collaboration with one of Lagos’ most popular bartending companies Quacktails.
We can’t forget their press features on notable platforms like VA Museum, I-d, Trippin’, OkayAfrica, and Vogue Business, where the brand’s founding trio consisting of Cosmas Ojemen, Nez Anazodo, and Adedayo Laketu, constantly have conversations on Pith’s vision for African fashion, making emphasis on the mission of the brand and its plans to make sure they continue at that pace.
Coming back home to utilize the raw materials given to us by nature and maintain sustainability is the key focus of ThisIsUs. A brand that over the years has shown there’s beauty in the natural and minimal with their unique approach to making what they’ve said are ‘Staples’. Focusing on making clothes you actually need and wear daily, which can be seen in their products which range from a set of five shirts, work pants, pyjamas, tote bags, suits and many more.
They promote locally made culture and the main source of their raw materials comes from the ancient kofar mata dye pits in Kano, Nigeria, and production in Lagos using funtua cotton. Alongside its unique vision, they have had an exciting year with one of the highlights being its Independence Day pop-up with Dye Lab which also paid respect heroes of the kofar mata dyeing community.
Other Pop-ups for the year include their collab with Obida, London Pop-up, Homecoming, and an ongoing collaboration with Pith Africa. They also got featured in Vogue Business for their work on sustainability and fashion.
Whew! What an eventful year!
We have featured quite a lot of clothing brands and for a justifiable change, we have kkerelé. A slow fashion, minimalistic, sustainable footwear brand. They have impacted society with their ability to create wearable fashion and then proceed to design them with ideas gotten from a highly creative mindset to prove that wearing sustainable items is far from boring.
Their standout use of color tones as well as their refreshing take on footwear design and the craft behind the process puts them ahead of the curve, and their rapid growth to being one of the country’s top shoe brands is not slowing down anytime soon.
They recently had an amazing pop-up in Ghana for AJABENG x OKUNTAKINTE’s Spring/Summer 2023 Collection was an aesthetically pleasing collaboration. They also collaborated with Pith Africa on a new take on their highly selling ‘Mai’ mules. Asides from Pop-ups, Kkerelé has shipped hundreds of its footwear outside Nigeria including Japan. T
Dye Lab is tradition redefined. With their innovative ways to reform the dyeing industry and create outfits that will minimize waste yet be comfy, Dye Lab has figured out its own unique methods to produce long-lasting dyed clothes.
They collaborate with like-minded brands who understand the true worth of the ancient Yoruba-dyed Agbada.
In a bid to tell the world the uniqueness of their brand, they have walked on Rwanda Fashion Week, pop-ups in London, Ghana, and Lagos at Homecoming. Dye Lab has brought people of different ethnicity to love African items of clothing regardless of their country.
Can we actually talk about brands that have been impacting society in 2022 without mentioning WAF? This brand successfully merged its passion for skateboarding into fashion. With their target on youths who are endearing, WAF has made their brand a community to cater to outliers and the daring.
Over the years they’ve without a doubt become a household name, not only in the Skateboarding scene but in the Fashion ecosystem as well. Their clothes can be seen on stars like Temi Otedola, and Davido, as well as on young kids who just want to skate, proving their large demographic a community of various like-minded individuals.
They took an extra step this year to solidify their name by organizing more events such as Yoga classes, Pray 4 Us, and their yearly SkateJam, which had one of the biggest cash prizes for a skateboarding event in Nigeria, becoming the first-ever skate company to have three pro skaters in West Africa and partnering with top companies such as Jameson and Bounce networks.
They’ve also held pop-ups at Art X and in countries such as Japan, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria (Lekki, Ikeja). They are currently building the first-ever Skate Park in Nigeria as well. It’s incredible to see them grow and continually impact multiple scenes.
Kadiju has become one to watch over the last few months. The brand’s carefully curated focus on making designs that lighten up the room with intricate cuts and bold looks, it’s no wonder Kadiju has been leaving a positive mark in the minds of people spite being two years in the Industry. This is to say that in the coming years, Kadiju’s creative collections will have more ways to build a loyal audience that will foster the fashion community
Kadiju has had an eventual year with features in Dazed, Folklore, and an exceptional exhibition at Lagos Fashion Week with its theme in Modularity, while also debuting her new collection which stood out as one of the week’s best runway looks. We’re eager to see what she has in store next.
Ajabeng is a unique Ghanaian unisex brand that seeks to promote Africa’s rich culture with simple and minimal ideas. Founded by Travis Obeng-Casper, he’s founded the brand’s ethos on interpreting Afro-minimalist designs into Africa’s fashion, his use of pastel color tones and refreshing approach to staple wear has been a true breath of fresh air in the Ghanaian fashion space.
Known for their funny, captivating themes in their collections such as “mama, na me cause am”, “support our ministry” and “Japa” and of course their captions and stickers, they give the youths an opportunity to say what’s on their mind. Wearing tees with the themes listed above tells you one thing and that’s, Meji Meji is not afraid to have fun while making their cool and interesting fashion for their free-spirited audience.
High Fashion is owned and designed by Lagos Socialite, Tiamiu Kayode popularly known as Jagaban of Lagos or Rahman Jago. As a socialite, you are considered to be fashion-forward and have in-depth knowledge of what social lives need and expect from the latest trends.
High Fashion has exploded into the mainstream this year with its logo-based designs and outfits all categorized in seasons/collections. They have made other trendsetters adopt a yet casual but comfortable look all suitable for traveling, going to clubs, or running mid-day errands.
And there you have it, Fashion brands that are impacting society in 2022. The list is endless as fashion evolves so will more brands with unique identities and tailored audiences spring up but whatever the case may be, it is an undeniable fact that African fashion is growing and has extended its impact not just on Africans but the world at large, and honestly, it can only get better.
Did we miss out on your favorite brand? Kindly tell us in the comments section.