Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. Consumers and manufacturers alike are taking steps to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. As a result, an increasing number of ethical and sustainable fashion brands are emerging and enabling change in the fashion industry as a whole, and Africa is not left out.
Although Africa’s sustainable and ethical fashion industry still has a long way to go compared to its western counterparts, there are a few African brands shattering glass ceilings and establishing themselves in this space.
Without further ado, below are 10 sustainable African fashion brands from the continent whose works we admire.
Throughout our BellaNaija Style Declutter & Donate campaign we will be raising much-needed awareness around the topic of sustainable fashion in Africa. Keep up with our activities on Instagram #BNSDeclutterDonate and on www.bellanaijastyle.com to keep up with all our activities.
Suave Kenya creates leather goods, backpacks, and accessories out of kitenge and denim. This sustainable brand also uses unwanted fabrics and leather to create bold prints and patterns. Since 2014, founder Mohamed Awale has transformed waste into stylish pieces rocked by style stars in Nairobi.
MaXhosa Africa is a South African ethical knitwear brand founded in 2010 by Laduma Ngxokolo. Laduma has explored and reinterpreted traditional Xhosa beadwork, patterns, symbolism, and colours to inspire his modern knitwear line by incorporating the Xhosa aesthetic. Keeping his heritage intact while protecting the environment.
Ethiopian sustainable fashion brand Lemlem led by top model Liya Kebede is a brand set to preserve her native country’s centuries-old weaving techniques while also creating jobs for local artisans. With vibrant embroidery and locally sourced non-GMO cotton, the label crafts its resort wear by hand.
Sustainable eponymous fashion brand Sophie Nzinga uses biodegradable materials and fabrics (silk, satin, semi-precious stones etc.) to create stunning pieces that fuse multiple cultures – specifically Sophie’s Senegalese roots and New York City education.
Sustainable Ivorian menswear brand OLOOH, led by Kadar Diaby, pays homage to Ivorian artisans by employing female workers in the commune of Treichville to dye the eco-linen used for the brand’s pieces. The wide-brimmed wicker hats and leather sandals featured also hail from Abidjan. ‘Olooh’ signifies “Our” in the Senufo language, influenced by Ivory Coast, Morocco, and the creator’s exposure to the West.
Lisa Folawiyo Studio
Nigerian eponymous womenswear brand Lisa Folawiyo Studio is considered one of the first African fashion brands to use the Ankara fabric with modern tailoring techniques and sequin trim.
Using locally sourced fabrics, every piece of clothing Lisa creates features intricate beading and fine tailoring by fairly paid female artisans in Nigeria. A collaborative project between her and the Ethical Fashion Initiative has also been undertaken.
Chiip O Neal
Chiip O Neal is a contemporary Ghanaian fashion brand that incorporates upcycling, embroidery and cultural design elements to produce functional and affordable pieces made in Ghana to solve the global initiative of fabric waste management.
Sindiso Khumalo is an eponymous sustainable brand based in Cape Town. With a focus on creating modern sustainable textiles, the brand emphasizes African storytelling with sustainability. The brand works very closely with NGOs in developing handmade textiles for their collections.
Designed and manufactured by artisans in Dakar, Senegal, the ALLËDJO clothing line was founded by Beninese designer Kassim Lassissi in 2017. The brand was created by merging the designer’s love of travel and exquisite clothing with heavy reliance on a colourful palette and free-flowing materials. The brand embodies the man and woman on the move, with a deep concern for sustainability and the preservation of cultures.
NKWO is an artisanal brand at the forefront of the sustainable fashion movement in Nigeria that emphasizes the conservation of natural resources. Led by Nkwo Onwuka, the Nigerian brand aims at waste reduction, which has led to the invention of a ‘new African fabric’ called DAKALA CLOTH.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. In Africa, there are much more ethical and sustainable fashion and accessory brands. Please feel free to add brands that you know in the comments section below.