The story begins in 2007…
Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe understood that clothing is a silent statement of who we are. Wearing multiple figurative hats in her life; her medical scrubs signified healing, her pantsuits represented her business-mindedness, and her colourful dresses conveyed her playful spirit as a mother and wife.
In search of style that could convey this multi-faceted identity, African Fashion International was brought to life as a fashion and lifestyle brand curated for the exceptional and sophisticated woman – or man.
The story before the story…
It’s the turn of the 21st century and fashion weeks of New York, Paris and Milan are a celebration of Masaai and Ankara inspired aesthetics. Yet, African designers are disconnected from sharing in this success and too few reach international acclaim.
“A Black Model Reaches the Top, A Lonely Spot,” was the title of an article in the New York Times in April 2003. Five years later the industry remained unchanged, “Ignoring Diversity, Runways Fade to White” read the New York Times in October 2007.
In her hat as a businesswoman and philanthropist, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe was concerned that without social capital Africa would remain a territory in need of aid instead of a prosperous land for investment. The fashion industry, with its vast art and design capital, offered an opportunity to create economic opportunity for local artisans and elevate stories of Africa into the mainstream – not the familiar stories of despair but the stories of cosmopolitan realities.
As Africa’s people began to realise their aspirations, this socioeconomic shift needed to be acknowledged in a global industry known for appropriating African culture.
AFI burst onto the fashion scene to propel Afro-centric fashion and stories of Africa’s extraordinary people. By February 2009 the New York Times ran the article, “Revealing New Layers of African Fashion” and the world began to take notice of Africa’s multi-dimensional creativity.
“Does Africa have any Fashion?” Yes, it does and AFI is challenging this narrative of Africa as the land of inspiration by building a central market for unique Made-In-Africa luxury goods, lifestyle and experiences.
Did you know, designers Yves Saint Laurent and Azzadine Alaia are originally from Africa?
Naturally open and inclusive, AFI platforms give a voice to African women and youth, while discovering talent in spaces the world does not think to look. AFI is able to do this because it is upheld by a community of discerning and exclusive individuals who are in search of collectible, one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art.
AFI’s global audience is playing the role of identifying and investing in the legacy of African fashion, by sharing their tastes to shift the current industry status-quo toward diverse, symbolic and bold aesthetics.
Unlike the ship of Theseus, AFI remains true to its original mission. Remodelled and reshaped by designers and customers over time, AFI is still envisioned as a thriving ecosystem for Africa’s creative and crafts community.
Injecting multi-faceted and multi-cultural identities into the fashion world, AFI is the place for African excellence to coincide with African heritage; where lovers of Africa can invest in an original piece of natural beauty.