The recession is taking a toll on demand for haute couture, but African designers are betting the youthfulness of their industry will trump the economy at the first pan-African fashion week. “We’re growing,” says a designer from Sierra Leone who trained in New York and Paris. "The excitement of youth is what African fashion really has to offer the industry right now." The event brings 50 designers from 20 countries together in Johannesburg, Reuters reports.
“We should, in addition to admiring what comes from Western Europe, begin to look inward and admire and celebrate ourselves,” says a fashion week exec. Many attendees combine European elements with traditional African designs. “I don't want to be pigeonholed,” says one. “Obviously Africa inspires me hugely because I'm from Africa, but at the same time the real influence for my brand is the Victorian era.”