As we are waiting with bated breath for this year’s edition of Africa Fashion Week London, from across the pond comes the news of a similar initiative – Africa Fashion Week Los Angeles (AFWLA). AFWLA is the by-product of co-founders Nnenna Obioha and Onyinyechi Egeonuigwe’s combination of creativity, dedication and sheer initiative. Both Nigerian-born, the ladies bring very unique qualities to the partnership and overall project. While challenges await any task of great merit, their shared drive and passion are what make AFWLA a production worth experiencing.
While Africa is a glamorous place for many, it can be a dark place for some members of African communities on the continent. These dynamics shape their experiences, their realities and, for some, their futures. Africa Fashion Week Los Angeles aims to shed light on the many issues—the good, not so great, the beautiful, and the gritty—that affect the various designers who we will feature, with the aim to stimulate conversations of change and transformation regarding the continent and within the context of the diaspora.
In terms of presence in the realm of the Western world, mainstream brands like PUMA are beginning to include African-inspired prints and Africa-themed collections as part of their repertoire. What does this say about Africa’s significance? What does this say about Africa’s future? These recent developments speak to the influence the continent has made, can and will make, in fashion, commerce, media, employment and trade. Still, these members of the global fashion community are barely represented outside of fashion showcases like AFWLA.
In partnering with organisations like the MacDella Cooper Foundation, which provides educational, economic and social relief to Liberian orphans and children, we aim to incite a shift in the perception of African designers, African cultures and Africa as a whole. The continent is so much more than meets the eye. And much like New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff recently stated, in his article titled as such: Africa is [still] on the rise.