Ann McCreath, the managing director and head designer of the fashion brand Kiko Romeo, showcased on day three of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (Africa), hosted by African Fashion International – AFI, at the Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, South Africa from October 29th – November 1st 2014.
The DNA of the African Fashion Industry is quickly being decoded by designers like Ann McCreath, who with her menswear collection — a la Afro-punk — told a different African story.
The fashion delivered on the runway was diverse, incorporating subtle and some dramatic use of traditional patterns and symbols, sending a message and telling a story adaptive to global consumer taste and trends.
1. FASHION FROM THE CONTINENT IS SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE & CONSCIOUS
Ann McCreath is known for producing fashion collections that incorporate community trade materials, and using fashion shows to send powerful messages about the continent. At Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, the Kenyan fashion line opened with Sanele, a model with albinism, wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan “It’s in my DNA” etched on the front. The opening was layered with meaning, as Ann McCreath disrobed the intentions behind her show’s opening, stating that many years ago she was challenged by Lupita Nyong’o to put people with albinism on the runway, ensuring that they also be seen as beautiful. McCreath wanted to contribute to the reduction of stigmatism around albinism— in Kenya, a movement Oscar winner Lupita is known for.
2. FASHION FROM THE CONTINENT HAS GLOBAL APPEAL
The movement continues to grow. And the participation of black people globally in the punk and alternative music culture also continues to grow.
Ann McCreath’s use of Afro-punk as an inspiration for her collection is proof that designers from the continent can identify with global movements, and appeal to growing trends.
3. FASHION FROM THE AFRICA IS AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY (YEAH, PUT IT IN THE BAG)
There are many black consumer segments (globally and locally), and I don’t expect every investor or perspective sponsors to understand the nuance of each subgroup. However, with so many culturally infused movements occurring daily in local markets, companies can begin to use each global black network and movement in their local arenas to study and also identify investment opportunities.
Kiko Romeo is a brand that has made her presence known in New York’s edition of Africa Fashion Week, and has also created fashion platforms on the continent such as Festival for African Fashion and Arts, and showcased at other Africa Fashion Weeks, such as Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (Africa).
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