African designers hit the catwalk at inaugural African-Indian textiles machinery event
Colourful collections by African women fashion designers took centre stage on at the first-ever Indian International Textile Machinery Exhibition held in Africa from 14–16 February 2020.
The designers are all part of the Mitreeki East Africa-India Partnership, launched by the International Trade Centre’s Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) initiative.
Mitreeki, which was set up in March 2017, builds a platform for African women to share ideas, knowledge, experience and best practice with Indian and international experts. The initiative is facilitated and sustained through a community of practice, training workshops, and networking and exhibiting opportunities.
In 2019, Mitreeki ran two fashion incubator programmes in Ethiopia and Kenya for 30 budding fashion designers, and the collections presented at ITME Africa 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, were part of the outcome. The 15 February fashion show featured Indian musicians bringing the sound of the sub-continent to the African visual display.
An Addis Ababa-based clothing and accessories brand from designer Fozia Endrias, established in 2017. Her work is inspired by traditional Ethiopian designs; as well as her background in architecture. Fozia believes that fashion is a form of art and a powerful platform for the expression of culture, ideas and evolving traditions. Her vision is to produce sustainable, high quality, casual clothing made in Ethiopia that can compete in international markets. Fozia was awarded Association of Women in Business (AWiB) Designer of the Year Award in 2017, and was featured in Vogue Italia in October 2019.Haute Baso
This fashion house was established in 2014 by Pierra Ntayombya and Linda Mukangoga. The designers believe that “Made in Rwanda” culture can be used as a vehicle for positive change for creating jobs and preserving culture. Haute Baso collaborates with 275 local artisans, more than 70% of whom are women, to produce unique home décor and clothing pieces. Haute Baso has been featured in Vogue Magazine, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Nataal Media and OkayAfrica.Hisi Studio
Angela Wanjiku Murigi set up Hisi Studio in May 2019. Hisi, a Kenyan lifestyle and fashion brand, is a Swahili word meaning ‘feel’. Their collection features adaptive clothing for the visually impaired including textured fabrics with Braille messages, Braille tags and QR codes. Hisi studio’s moto is ‘The less we see with our eyes, the more we see with our hearts’. One of Hisi’s objectives is to be a leading champion for accessible design and inclusivity. Hisi incorporates environmental sustainability measures into the company’s production by using recycled PET bottles for print work.Uzi Collections
Uzi Collections was set up in 2015 by two Rwandan designers, Nathalie and Laurene, as a result of their passion and love for fashion. Their main focus is to create a brand for everyday wear that empowers youth and positively transforms communities. Uzi is a combination of Swahili and English words meaning a collection of thread. The fashion line features a mix of traditional and modern textiles to give a sense of being at home.Yefikir
Yefikir Design house was established by Fikerte Addis in 2009 with a vision to translate Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage into modern, contemporary clothing for international markets. Yefikir Design works with traditional hand-woven Ethiopian textiles as well as natural dyes. Working with weavers in Chencha in Southern Ethiopia, Fikirte sources only the most ethically produced Ethiopian hand-woven fabrics. Fikirte is an internationally recognized and award-winning designer.
Funded by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID), SITA aims to improve the competitiveness of select value chains in five East African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania – through the provision of partnerships with institutions and businesses from India.