AFI Fashion Week Joburg: It’s a Wrap

By November 4, 2021 No Comments

AFI Fashion Week launched on 28 October, at the Leonardo in Sandton, with a thoughtful interpretation of current moods. Seventeen new and established designers exhibited collections to over 2,500 global 
viewers, in a hybrid showcase for in-person and virtual guests.

The launch of AFI Fashion Week Joburg saw the return of African Fashion International’s (AFI’s) longstanding Design for Life campaign. The campaign draws influence from the fashion industry to garner support for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), in an effort to promote awareness and encourage women to seek out early detection services.

The Motsepe Foundation, a sister NGO to AFI’s fashion enterprise, made a donation of R1million to an unsuspecting CANSA at a time when their government and private sector donations had dried up.

“This donation will make a big difference to women coming to us for help from poor communities who have nowhere else to go,” – CANSA CEO, Elise Joubert.

In attendance at AFI Fashion Week were Motsepe Foundation Trustees, celebrities including the newly crowned Ms South Africa Lalela Mswane, as well as Thebe Magagu – an alumni of AFI’s development platform Fastrack, which launched his international career in fashion to become the winner of the prestigious LVMH prize in 2019.

The theme this year, BE YOU. BE TRULY AFRICAN! builds on the previous campaign I AM AFRICA to encourage connection and openness. Each unique 
interpretation of African existence is a challenge to conformism and the campaign is an invitation to all: Express your creative self and find peace in your individuality.

The gap between Fashion Weeks from March 2020 and October 2021 was told through an ethereal showcase of visionary African femininity, with unique takes on hot pink fabrics, menswear skirts and wispy silhouettes. The playlist gestured this cultural swing, with designers moving away from the fast-paced beats of hip-hop toward the classics by Boom Shaka and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Chaka herself co-starred on the runway for Lufi D, with reality TV star Nonkanyiso Conco, in a plus-size celebration of African forms, colours and prints.

A mixture of seventeen young and established designers, including AFI’s Fastrack 2021 cohort; K. Moraba & Collective; Imprint; House of Fabrosanz; Seditsi Collection; several brands under the Senegal Collective; Love Jane; Urban Zulu and Amen set the tone for an era of altered power dynamics and inclusive transformation. Fashion Week closer David Tlale was fresh from the Dubai Expo and showcased a ready to wear collection that left the audience wanting more.

An added presentation by professional and student platinum jewellery designers was sponsored by Plat Africa, ushering in a second year of their partnership with the AFI Fashion Week platform. Both the Chairman of Anglo American Platinum, Norman Mbazima and the CEO Natascha Viljoen, were complimentary of the AFI stage in propelling the creative works of emerging designers.

AFI Fashion week 2021 drew the regular audience of fashion and arts enthusiasts but also brought new audiences who were looking for escapism and inspiration.

“We are dedicating this fashion week to healing. In the strange, challenging time we continue to find ourselves in, imagination and creativity are so important. It helps us cope with what confronts us,” explained Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the founder and chief executive of AFI.

“Promoting the business of fashion is an economic necessity. At the centre of our Fashion Week preparations was securing the pan-African collections, as well as the platinum jewellery, for immediate availability on our online store and the physical store at the Leonardo,” the founder added.

By dedicating this Spring/Summer season to healing, AFI aimed to promote the creativity of pan-African designers as the beginning of progress for Africa as a whole.

AFI Fashion Week Joburg 2021 was streamed live with House of Nala, Plat Africa, as well as sponsors Royal Flush Gin and BET.