From Algeria to Zimbabwe, a new generation of young designers are quietly changing this reality. Their African-inspired, Western-influenced collections are locally sourced and sold, giving fashionistas access to pieces that look as good in Nairobi as they would in New York, in Lagos as they would in London, or Pretoria as they would in Paris. Their wares are sold on brand-new sites like 5th&Quansah.com (think Net-a-Porter for West Africa) and chic boutiques like Temple Muse in Nigeria. Yet, more often than not, these designers stock their pieces through their own boutiques.
Over the last month, I traveled West Africa to meet some of them face to face and tour their stores and manufacturing workshops. Besides talent, style and savvy, they were all bound by one powerful ambition: cash flow. These young designers are not just interested in showing and telling; they are interested in selling. Along the way, they are developing infrastructure, creating jobs and generating revenue in their respective countries. The cumulative weight of their self-funded efforts is staggering: transforming the fashion retail landscape on the continent.
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