Over the past decade there has been an emergence of fashion designers who are not only queer but who have aligned their vision of fashion with their identity, creating demystifying collections and intersecting their concepts and ideologies to represent the landscape. nonconformity, fluidity, queerness and androgyny — all while maintaining a swift balance with their cultural roots. Despite the many fabric experiments and collections, these designers never forget to tell stories that are relevant to them, especially those that resonate with queer people in anti-gay countries.
In honor of Pride Month, OkayAfrica is spotlighting 8 African queer fashion designers and brands putting queer stories on the global map through fashion.
South African designer Rich Mnisi is part of a new wave of designers putting African stories on the global map. Founded in 2015, the Rich Mnisi brand is dedicated to delivering gender-fluid expression, celebrating youthful excellence, and exploring extremist design elements with minimalist cultural customization. For Pride Month, the brand released a limited-edition capsule titled “Out.” The capsule visualizes a fine line between elegance and fluidity while boldly emphasizing the act of struggle and resilience as an outfit.
For a fashion brand like Udiahgebi, identity is very important. And providing this form of visibility for Nigerian queer women is not just a form of visual activism, but a detailed history of essence. The brand was founded by Emerie Udiahgebi, a gender-neutral fashion designer who wanted to give queer, non-binary and non-conforming people more options to express themselves in fashion. Udiahgebi’s fashion concept is extremely bold, fierce and unconventional.
Lagos Space Program
Designer Adeju Thompson merges traditionalist concepts with genderless possibilities. Founded in 2018, Lagos Space Program is a gender-neutral fashion brand that has wrapped aesthetic designs using local craftsmanship. The brand appreciates the unique fabric of West Africa and communicates compelling stories of identity, gender and homosexuality – an ideology that has not only attracted an audience for them, but earned them a place at the LVMH prize. .
Patrick Muyishime is a fashion innovator. Not only does he know how to find great fabrics, but his designs are authentically vibrant. Founded in 2016, Muyishime is a Kenyan fashion brand that introduces conversations around the androgynous and aesthetically explores fabric inventions that command fluidity, feminine wiles and constructive elegance.
Founded in 2019, Bola’s fashion brand Taofeek Yahaya lines up thought-provoking pieces that elevate conversations around queer representation, sexuality and femininity. The brands merge sustainability and explore quirky fabric experiments.
Founded by South African designer Nao Serati Mofammere in 2014, fashion label Nao Serati explores the versatility of gender and the thin margin of sexuality while finding balance with their South African heritage. Mofammere wants her brand to explore masculinity and the different ways to wear a fragile look.
Lolu Vangei has different recipes for gender fluidity and she used fashion to express that. Founded in 2018, Vangei is a fashion brand that unites the modern ideology of Afrocentrism to produce pieces that dismantle conventional wisdom about gender.
Nothing explains the talent of Emmanuel Tobiloba. Founded in 2020, Mayetobs’ eccentric approach to restoring androgynous norms is interesting. From oversized pants that speak of fabric maximalism to flowing dresses, the fashion brand is an ode to redefining modern masculinity.
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