10 July 2012

Africa Fashion Week New York!

So here in the big apple, Africa Fashion Week, a microcosm of the cosmopolitan fashion weeks that take place in New York and around the world, will highlight here in this dandy city the talented fashion designers and luxury brands born and/or bred in the African continent. We have all seen the beautiful fabrics that have either originated or been traded through the African continent, which have then been transformed into beautiful works of wearable art by the generations of tailors, style icons and visionary designers. Now the city of New York, as sponsored by luxury brand company, Adiree, will be paying homage.

Festivities, having started yesterday, will continue to take place at the Broad Street Ballroom. But if you have time, please check out tomorrow's panel discussion at my second home, the Fashion Institute of Technology, on how African designers are giving back, being eco, and supporting sustainable, restorative and social enterprises in their home countries. Details here.

But today, perhaps very timely, during my Ethical Fashion II course, I also met another company that works within Africa, Rwanda specifically, based here in the Americas, New York specifically: Indego Africa. While the entire team may be not African or explicitly fashion backgrounds, Deidre, the creative director of this New York-Rwandan based social enterprise, said something that I will never forget:

(Very much paraphrased): We are a company built to take ourselves out of business. Our hope is to one day build up our cooperative partners so that they can take over our place and start communicating with major retailers on their own.

So this week for me marked two very important truths for me: 1) It is essential to acknowledge in the midst of Western- whatever that means- focused views of fashion to highlight the visionary designers, brands, and fashion cultures that truly don't get enough time in the limelight and 2) it is equally essential to acknowledge and support-in an authentic and meaningful way- local economies and cooperatives in cities and nations rebuilding themselves through local artisan talent. The designer and the artisan, the visionary and the craftsperson, the law student and the cooperative, we can all work hand in hand in redistributing the wealth and limelight a little bit closer to equilibrium. It's been time.

Africa Fashion Week in NYC begins, transatlantic healing and partnerships never ends,

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