As the international fashion month schedule that goes from New York to London, Milan and Paris draws to a close, it should be noted that there are other runway shows to take in between now and the next go-round in the fall. Over the past few years, certain cities around the world have been steadily developing their reputations as up-and-coming fashion capitals to keep an eye on.
As the support and patronage of small businesses and diverse brands have grown recently, buyers and retailers have increasingly been looking further afield for emerging design talent beyond the United States, Europe, Nigeria and South Africa.
With more and more luxury brands from African countries and the diaspora making waves on the global stage, they are beginning to play a pivotal role in helping to establish their hometowns, including Tunis, Kigali, and Dar es Salaam, as some of the important global fashion cities alongside Lagos, Accra and Johannesburg. Read on to discover five fashion week events in cities that are home to some of the most exciting new design talents on the fashion scene.
AFI Cape Town Fashion Week
Presented by African Fashion International (AFI), Cape Town Fashion Week in 2023 is a four-day event that combines runway fashion shows, retail opportunities and interactive events to create a distinct experience for attendees with an emphasis on learning and networking. Taking place in the same year as the AFI’s 15th anniversary, Cape Town Fashion Week event is an opportunity to celebrate the city as a fashion capital for emerging talent. This year’s theme is “Fashion, Art and Design” and promises to bring cutting-edge fashion innovation and technology, creating a stimulating atmosphere of creativity.
Founded in 2007 by Precious Moloi-Motsepe, AFI is a seasonal showcase of African fashion brands aimed at propelling them onto a global stage. The inaugural Africa Fashion Week was held in Johannesburg in 2009, and has since been alternated between the South African cities, as well as locations across the world. The event has been instrumental in growing the careers of a number of local designers, such as MaXhosa and MmusoMaxwell, presenting them with the opportunities to gain exposure and experience, while encouraging African consumers to embrace clothing designed by home-grown talent.
Rwanda Fashion Week
Rwanda Fashion Week (also known as Collective RW) was established in 2015 by a small group of local, established designers who host a series of runway shows, seminars and pop-up events to promote Rwandan fashion. With a vision of creating a vibrant and thriving fashion landscape with global reach and significant local impact, Collective RW provides platforms and opportunities for various established and emerging players within the cultural and creative industries, functioning as a hub on the continent that attracts industry professionals and lovers of fashion and storytelling from around the world.
Members of the Collective include House of Tayo, Moshions and Sonia Mugabo. Held annually in the capital city of Kigali, Rwanda Fashion Week features designers from across Africa and the diaspora, celebrating dynamic fashion and innovation.
Tunis Fashion Week
The first in North Africa dedicated to fashion, style, and beauty, Tunis Fashion Week was established in 2009 by Anis Montacer. Held annually in June, this year’s event in Carthage will be the 14th edition. Its theme is “Fashion, Culture, Film”, with a mission to preserve, support and illuminate the artistic aura and perceptual uniqueness of independent voices in fashion, culture and film.
Since its launch, Tunis Fashion Week has gained critical acclaim for encouraging both emerging and established artists to reconsider the way that fashion is presented and for challenging the conventional parameters of fashion. It has grown into an influential platform that supports the various links in the fashion value creation chain, from runway show productions, models and photographers to textile makers and distributors.
Africa Fashion Week London
Billed as the largest catwalk and exhibition showcase of African fashion and design outside Africa, Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) is an annual fashion event established to introduce a UK audience to African designers and dispel misguided narratives that have long informed the West’s view of fashion from the continent.
Founded in 2011 by Ronke Ademiluyi, AFWL is focused on encouraging trade for African designers within the global community and helps to nurture them on a global scale. Over the years, the event has showcased more than 800 emerging designers from Africa, Europe and America, to almost 70,000 visitors including buyers, retailers, influential industry professionals and the media, and is now a highlight on the fashion calendar.
Swahili Fashion Week
eared towards being a prominent fashion platform in Africa for the international market, Swahili Fashion Week was founded and created by Tanzanian couturier Mustafa Hassanali in 2008. Swahili Fashion Week provides a platform for fashion and accessories designers from Eastern Africa and Swahili-speaking countries and beyond to showcase their talent, market their creativity and network with the international fashion industry.
With runway shows alongside pop-up events and talent discovery initiatives, Swahili Fashion Week aims to promote and highlight the quality and output of fashion design from East Africa, and emphasize how the region can be a valuable contributor to the income-generating creative industry.