Africa’s Best Talents Dazzle at Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2017


Mary Ekah

Upcoming and experienced African fashion talents in the fashion industry were proudly showcased as thousands of creatives were connected during the recently concluded Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2017, a four-day event held from October 25 – 28, 2017. Heavily sponsored by Heineken, the event which had the theme, ‘Africa: Shaping Fashion’s Future’, had winners from the maiden Heineken Africa Inspired Fashion Challenge, Lulu Mutuli and AzraWalji, joined the best designers on the continent to present their craft and skills, as the event successfully underscored the need to further rejig the industry to create value for upcoming and experienced players in the African fashion industry.

The Lagos Fashion and Design Week has grown to become a significant platform in Africa, leading the way with initiatives to support and strengthen the fashion industry. Connecting with over 20 million pan-African insiders, the event features Runway Shows, Fashion Business Series, Fashion Focus Talks, including the #HLFDW After Party.
These initiatives have positioned the fashion show as a unique experience that showcases the beauty of African fashion to the world, depicting how Africa is redefining the future of fashion globally. As evidenced during the event, the future lies in pushing a narrative that goes beyond creativity to adding value to the industry. This means leveraging on various platforms and initiatives that provide knowledge acquisition, capacity building, skills development and job creation for the continent, with massive support for an ecosystem of thriving fashion businesses that can impact the African economic landscape.

Just as Heineken has broken borders from its birth place in Amsterdam, Netherlands to 192 countries around the world, creatives in the African fashion industry are massively breaking new boundaries to make huge impact around the world. Building on this new narrative, the Lagos Fashion and Design Week serves as a platform for Heineken to demonstrate its support for African fashion designers, showcasing renowned and upcoming fashion designers, and their African-inspired creations – which culminated in the first-of-its-kind capsule collection presented at the event.
In celebrating the richness of the African design culture and innovation, Heineken launched the East African edition of the Africa Inspired Fashion Challenge, which is the brand’s first design initiative in the region. This exciting project motivated the most innovative designers to join a journey in conceiving and creating a truly Heineken-Inspired African Fashion Collection.

Out of 100 portfolios from Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian designers, Lulu Mutuli and AzraWalji, finally emerged winners of the fashion challenge. Led by the Global Heineken design director Mark van Iterson, in close collaboration with Amsterdam-based design house, LEW, the project generated a rich textile print and fashion-forward range for the Heineken Collection. Under the guidance of LEW, the two winners worked on their amazing designs, all in preparation to present their unique brand fashion collection at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2017.

As a collaborative work between the Heineken East Africa team, Global Heineken design team as well as the Nigerian team, these designers joined the best talents on the continent, showcasing their craftsmanship and making their mark in the fashion industry.

This is the new narrative in the African fashion industry, where fashion talents can build on collaborations and the new global market demands to present the true culture of the continent, while also creating value for themselves by redefining the importance of the design chain and expanding on new opportunities for new talents and creatives.