Africa awaits

Caribbean designers encouraged to take advantage of African market

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 16, 2019

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This year's staging of Caribbean Fashionweek (CFW) combines the creative talents of designers from Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, as well as their counterparts from Africa, particularly Nigeria. This new dimension is part of the new thrust by Pulse, the local model agency which stages CFW, to take its product global.

A number of African designers, including Ituen Basi, Ilare, Lanre Da Silva, Mai Atafo, and Tokyo James join Caribbean heavyweights including Mutamba, Meiling, Claudia Pegus, Biggy, The Cloth and Heather Jones.

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, Nigerian designer Mai Atafo was pleased to showcase his work in Jamaica, and noted that he was looking forward to the synergies which could come from this alliance.

“Jamaicans call themselves Africans and we like that. It was Kwame Nkrumah who said 'You are not African because you were born in Africa, You are African because Africa was born in you.'And that rightly said, we are all Africans and I would like to feel like I am Jamaican too. I'll be showcasing my collection on Sunday to clear up all misconceptions. There is something people always think of when you say African fashion; you want to think of the African print. But if you are expecting to see a lot of that when the Nigerians will be showcasing, you will be very disappointed, because African fashion is not defined by print. I always like to say this: An African designer is a designer who is African . That's it. Creativity is not regionalised, so as long as you are creative just express yourself,” he told the gathering.

When questioned about the readiness of the African market for Caribbean designers he explained that given Nigeria's size and population there is space for all to share their talents.

“We have a population of over 200 million. There is no way that we can cater to all the needs as designers. We are open to new designers to come and if your work is good your work will stand out. I look forward to this partnership,” he shared.

The first of the two nights of runway shows was held last night. Tonight's showcase will see Meiling, The Cloth, Mai Atafo, Lanre da Silva, drennaLUNA, Heather Jones, and Hope Wade among the designers whose work will be showcased.


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