The Fashion Capital of the World... in Africa?

Fashion Week in New York every season hosts nearly 300 brands that are showcasing their collections, all squeezed into one week. According to an article in Business Insider, Mayor de Blasio is expecting nearly 230,000 people to visit New York for the event, which would result in nearly $900 million of revenue for the city. According to New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), New York City is home to more than 900 fashion companies, employing more than 180,000 workers on salaries of $11 billion a year, and bringing tax revenues of $2 billion. 


New York City, Paris, London, and Milan are well-known as the fashion capitals of the world, and continue to build strong images for fashion, attracting more designers, brands, and other related businesses, constantly reinforcing their credibility as fashion destinations.

But will this continue to be the case? Can other cities grow their fashion and design industries to become the next New York City or Paris?

Atim Oton, a Nigeria-born and British-educated designer and entrepreneur, believes that the future of Africa is in fashion and design, and imagines African cities to be the fashion capitals of the world. In an article in The Huffington Post, she explains:

"I am a child of Africa and I grew up like my father with a vision of the African Grand Plan -- one that came with our independence of a continent of nations that would determine its future, determine its goals, opportunities and place in the world for its future generations. [...] And in the spirit of that grand plan, I look to change Africa's image and perception through fashion and design."

Atim advocates her vision by proposing the notion of Hybrid Modernity as a concept to adopt in fashion and design. According to her definition, Hybrid Modernity is "the juxtaposition of traditional African materials, craft and design techniques with Western modern conceptualization, materials, design and techniques. [...] Simply, it is a hybrid of culture that is a powerful push toward the future and key to this idea is the use of traditional methods of production in fashion." For example, Duro Olowu, a Nigerian-born and British-based fashion designer, demonstrates this hybridity by combining Western styles with African prints as shown in the photo below.

At Maki & Mpho, we are taking the concept of Hybrid Modernity one step further: We are not just combining "African" heritage with "Western" modernity; we are redefining and creating "modernity" in the African context. Hybridity is not just about mixing Africa and the "West:" We appreciate craftsmanship and cutting-edge innovative ideas from other parts of the world, too, particularly from Japan, in order to bring high quality products and luxurious experiences to our customers. 

Join us for the experience of African Modern Luxury.

Afro Improvisation of Menswear feat. Ikiré Jones

Ikiré Jones is a menswear label that is "conceived in West Africa, made in Brooklyn, and adrift across the world" as it says on its own blog. A multi-talented Nigerian native, Walé Oyéjidé, is the founder and creative director behind the brand and is also both an Afro beat musician and an attorney. Walé was also recognized as one of the best-dressed "real" men featured by Esquire Magazine in 2010 while he was still practicing law. As he explains in an interview in MNSWR blog, he IS the ultimate persona that Ikiré Jones' styles are for. 

Here are some samplings of the styles.

2014 SS Collection. Source:  Ikiré Jones website .

2014 SS Collection. Source: Ikiré Jones website.

2014 SS Collection. Source:  Ikiré Jones website .  

2014 SS Collection. Source: Ikiré Jones website.  

2013 FW Collection. Source:  Ikiré Jones website .

2013 FW Collection. Source: Ikiré Jones website.

2013 FW Collection. Source:  Ikiré Jones   website .

2013 FW Collection. Source: Ikiré Jones website.

The use of colorful prints is no-doubt high-impact. But what makes the brand's style truly interesting and unique is a perfectly balanced mix of different prints and cuts with Western European and Western African flairs. The ambience of these photos also creates duality: the expressions of those models are very serious while their styles are playful. For example, the scarves tied around their faces like masks contribute to an artistic presentation of the collection. And the use of prints on the back of lapels adds a fun and surprising element to the double-breasted blazer.

Walé's musical talent is reflected in his brand: Ikiré Jones is a great riff off of typical menswear styles!