MILAN–One of the highlights of Milan Fashion Week, was the “Beat of Africa” event hosted for the third time by upscale boutique Biffi and the International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative.
MaXhosa by Laduma (South Africa), Mimi Plange (US-Ghana), Sindiso Khumalo (South Africa) and Sophie Zinga (Senegal), some of the world’s most innovative African designers, showcased their Spring/Summer 2016 collections at the iconic Milanese store on Corso Genova during Milan Fashion Week from Sept. 23 to 27.
Many of the designers at the event have been practising their craft – weaving, knitting or matting – since childhood.
“This is my first time to Milan, but I definitely think that Italy could be a key market for my brand. People are more into flamboyant and energetic designs like mine,” said Port Elizabeth, South Africa, native, designer Laduma Ngxokolo, who has been practising the art of knitting and weaving since he was a boy in Port Elizabeth. Laduma was also in Milan to attend and showcase at Vogue Italia’s Vogue Talent event where he met Anna Wintour, as well as other industry leaders.
Former “Elle New Talent” winner Sindiso Khumalo said that as a child she would make mats and baskets herself at home in Durban. Today, her vibrant designs are a continuation of that passion. Khumalo’s Zulu and Ndebele heritage is also echoed in her fabrics. “It’s like a story that I keep telling.”
“There is a huge buzz around African fashion but scarce opportunities for real trade. The Ethical Fashion Initiative is working on this and we are soon launching a new mentoring scheme to enable designers work alongside investors and business partners. This is a key component to grow and bring more work to Africa. Work not words is what Africa needs,” Simone Cipriani.
The Ethical Fashion Initiative is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.