AFWL: Africa Fashion Week London
Yes people, your girl got herself to African Fashion Week London this week amongst other places!
The event was held at London Olympia West in Kensington over two days, Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th of August (the term "week" is clearly used lightly in this case).
The event showcased hundreds of African-inspired designs and designers through the the simple yet wild catwalk shows and exhibitors stalls around the venue. From the innovatively teasing garments, the hype crowd and sassy models, the atmosphere was truly electric. The stalls allowed designers and brands to share, sell and promote their work to the public on a more intimate but very chilled marketplace level.
It was great to be able to aimlessly wonder through stalls as if in a large all African shopping mall or department store. Here I was able to get a better understanding of the ethos and origins of certain brands and was able to talk to someone from Aso which is a brand which produces ethically manufactured African inspired (of course) clothes. What I loved was their diversion from the usual African wax prints focussing more on the artwork involved in traditional African masks in their Iyoba Ida collection. I also loved the crop tops from the streetwear brand Jekkah who's garments are hand made in the Gambia. They have a store in Camden Stables, London which I can't wait to check out.
It wouldn't be an African event without some authentic food and music. In true African style, the food (well the cheapest options) was devoured in a couple of hours leaving me in the search of a Subway. By the time I returned the first show had began, my lack of organisation meant that I didn't quite catch the brand name for some of the looks I took pictures of during the actual shows but I'm sure you'll be seeing them a lot more soon enough.
How to survive having a press pass:
1. Wear heels, listen... Being a small small blogger like me in more ways than one meant that the professionals got the prime spots at the end of the catwalk which meant I found myself having to hold my camera up or around someone to get the shot. Although my feet were slightly sore after the long day, wearing my Primark boots definitely gave your girl some necessary leverage and made my outfit bang.
Glasses // Specsavers
Crop top // ASOS
Sleeveless blazer //
Trousers // TK Maxx
Bag // Dune ( TK MAxx)
2. Explore your options... Despite the prime spot being at the end of the runway this was not always great form me (see point 1.) so I would definitely suggest scoping out the space and exploring where you can comfortably actually see the clothes but also take a decent picture. For the first show being parallel to the runway was so much less intimidating and more accommodating.
Nomade's | @nomades_brand
3. Make use of the time you are made to wait whilst the people who actually paid to get in are seated by scoping out the best outfits and taking some pictures of people. While I was quite shy to do this at the start, I soon realised just like myself, people where glad their work (design, outfit, hairstyle) was noticed and as a result were more than happy to pose for you.
4. Have fun with it! Very typical point to add into a list like this but honestly, I didn't spend much time worrying too much about the photo's because 1. I know I'm not a photographer 2. I was there to enjoy the whole experience and not everything can be captured.
Beach Cult | www.beachcult.co.za
I was initially told about AFWL by my friend Suwilanji Katuka who's brand AAugust along with Emelda Mbulo opened the second catwalk show of the night. But a separate post about that will be up soon.
For me the event was a reminder of my roots and how far young people of the African diaspora have come and been able to create a profitable brand from their own cultures and British identities. Many of those that I talked to seemed to be very new and recent brands that had literally grown within the last 5 years. This was both inspiring in terms of how far they've come from a simple idea or desire and a moment of realisation for me that this really is just the start of a new and different industry.
Whilst I wasn't able to attend on Saturday (it looked soooo good) I definitely enjoyed my time and really hope I can make it for the whole event next year.
Stay cool - Kosa x