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.

African Luxury Design feat. Duro Olowu

Duro Olowu is a British fashion designer of Nigerian-Jamaican heritage who is based in London and New York. Duro's womenswear collection is known for its vibrant mix of African prints. Since Duro launched his first collection in London in 2004, he has been successfully building his brand: some of his fans include Michelle Obama and Solange. 

Duro Olowu. Source:  TMagazine - The New York Times

Duro Olowu. Source: TMagazine - The New York Times

Duro is currently exhibiting his art show at Salon 94, an art gallery in Soho, NYC; the show is an inspiring combination of his own designs and the art pieces that inspired these clothes. We really enjoyed the sculptures by Nick Cave and other artwork by a mix of established and emerging artists.

Source:  Salon 94

Source: Salon 94

One of the most memorable displays is a wall of traditional costumes from Yoruba women in Nigeria (show in the photo above). In an interview in The New York Times, Duro explains, "[t]his is very inspirational for me — it is the basis for my idea of fashion. [...] [T]his is a history of the Yoruba tops, from 1920 to about 1982. It shows how real style and international chic is really sometimes the simplest thing, made to look incredible."

A real style that lasts over the decades, international chic that travels across different cultures, a simple beauty that delivers a strong impression, and incredible quality that delights the wearer. We believe that these are the fundamentals of African luxury designs.

More Material: June 26, 2014–August 01, 2014 @Salon 94 Bowery.