2 Sep 2020
Sustainable Fashion Week New York: Delivers the African Element
Partnering with Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL), Sustainable Fashion Week NY promises a 6-day event that will showcase collections each night from emerging and established sustainable designers and vintage collectors. The platform will also host a virtual product lounge, speakers and a visual exhibition on what is sustainable fashion and why it is the future of fashion.
Five African and African-inspired designers will showcase their sustainable brands plus a special feature on the indigenous textile production in Nigeria. Each brand is unique in its approach to ethical clothing production.
The virtual show will run on YouTube from 11-16th September with African Fashion Week London’s showcase being on 15th September.
Subscribe to AFWL Youtube channel to watch Sustainable Fashion Week NY live.
The People behind It
BRIDGETT ARTISE, owner, author and designer of Born Again Vintage has pioneered Upcycled Fashion into the fashion world since early 2000s with her book BORN AGAIN VINTAGE. She created one of the first sustainable classes at FIT and has been dubbed Vintage Expert by NY Times. Her brand is 100% sustainable and has been from day one!
RICK DAVY, for over 14 years has successfully run Fashion Week Brooklyn, a product of Davy’s BK Style Foundation. BK Style Foundation is a nonprofit that focuses on building fashion entrepreneurship in the low income community. It’s uniquely Brooklyn counter-programming aims to level the 76 year old largely Manhattan-centric affair.
What it is?
This 6-day event will showcase collections each night from emerging sustainable designers, established sustainable designers and vintage collectors. Unlike your typical Fashion Week, this platform will also host a virtual sustainable product lounge, sustainable fashion speakers, and more importantly, a sustainable fashion exhibit giving visuals on what is sustainable fashion and why it is the future of fashion.
Why sustainable fashion?
The impact of fashion on the environment & fast fashion and the industry.
The fashion industry is in crisis, partly because of fast fashion and partly over consumption. We are producing at alarming rates and buying at equally alarming rates, what that creates is a recipe for disaster. How and where we make our clothes adds a toxic mix, making the fashion industry 2nd to oil as the most polluting industry! Sustainable Fashion Week is a necessity to bring awareness to this ongoing problem while providing a platform to emerging sustainable designers that we are in desperate need of.
Where will it take place?
This 6-day event will be fully streamed for FREE via YouTube Premiere at 6PM on September 11-16, with the runway shoot taking place in NYC & NJ. The stream link will be available on the home page soon.
Finding Sustainability in Africa
The Second-Hand Clothes Markets
It is estimated that 80% of all people in Africa wear second-hand clothing. These statistics are staggering. The second-hand clothing markets in Ghana, Benin, and Kenya receive used clothing from all over the world that would otherwise end up in the landfills of some of the more economically affluent countries. As these clothes are used by local tailors and seamstresses, they are, by definition, re-purposed.
This has a detrimental effect on the local design brands and local textile producers who cannot compete for customers looking for low-cost clothing. This problem is so prevalent that some countries are considering banning second-hand imports. A chairperson from the Worldwide African Congress reportedly told CNN that “after 50 years of independence, our country, Uganda, and other African countries, should have the ability to produce and manufacture certain things, like clothing, locally.” The idea is still controversial.
Two designers from the AFWL umbrella, Togo brand Victoria Grace and the UK’s NeverFade Factory both use pre-worn clothing for their brands. Victoria Grace knows full well the second-hand clothing industry market in Togo and her brand uses local seamstresses to make stylish upcycled collections. Victoria’s fashion is made with compassion and passion They take responsibility of giving the clothes found in landfill another life – remade, restyled, reused and repurposed with love. Watch Victoria Grace’s work here
Exploring fashion sustainability and all the dimensions that exist when digital technology ideas are implemented , NeverFade Factory’s work focusses on deconstruction, upcycling and incorporating technology.
Sustaining the Indigenous Textile Manufacture
Aso-oke (also known as Aso-ofi) cloth weaving started centuries ago and is the traditional wear of the Yoruba (the tribe of the southwest people in Nigeria). It is a cloth predominantly worn on special occasions. The fibres used for weaving are either locally sourced or brought from neighbouring states.
The incredibly resilient hand-woven cloth of the Yoruba tribe, used here as upholstery.
The First Lady of Kwara State, Her Excellency Aare Erelu (Dr) Mrs Olufolake Abdulrazaq, works tirelessly sustaining the Aso-oke industry through fashion. Together with Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, the founder of Africa Fashion Week London & Nigeria, they champion the industry’s positive contributions to the improvement of the lives of these craftsmen and women. Watch a clip from the Aso-oke shoot here
Adire cloth is the most popular Yoruba traditional textile. It is an indigo resist-dyed cotton cloths that were initially made by women throughout south-western Nigeria. Resist-dyeing involves creating a pattern by treating certain parts of the fabric in some way to prevent them from absorbing dye. This traditional African fabric has greatly contributed to the African Fashion Revolution.
The Ile Moremi brand has two designs using heritage Adire fabric – kaftans and jumpsuits. Profits from sales go towards campaigns against slavery, trafficking and rape of young Nigerian women.
Afro-Lux brand Soboye and Hackney brand Bwana Willy both work in conjunction with each other. Soboye uses local industry to make his designs and often uses the waste material to make matching accessories to complement his designs. Bwana Willy, designer Will Hassell, chooses a zero-waste ethos and takes the minute scrap materials from Soboye’s designs and turns them into cloth petals to create dresses. It is a collaborative partnership that works very well.