The five young African designers you need to know


Super Yaya

Rym Beydoun had her first fashion breakthrough five years ago, when she sent models at her Central Saint Martins’ graduate show down the runway in veils and customised Nike sneakers. The 27-year-old Lebanese-Ivorian brings the same subversive swagger to her Super Yaya label, mashing up traditional textiles, classic unisex streetwear and pop cultural references from her hometown of Abidjan. At her online “superstore” you’ll find velvet trousers, reversible puffa jackets and T-shirts, and jumpers splashed with “100% Africosmic” slogans.

Orange Culture

Nigeria’s Adebayo Oke-Lawal launched his gender-fluid menswear line in 2011, with designs that combine elements of urban streetwear with androgynous silhouettes. His current SS18 collection showcases silk kimonos in colourful prints and tabard linen tunics with the words “wear at your own discretion” printed across the front — a nod, perhaps, to his challenging vision of masculine style. This year Oke-Lawal became the first African to be nominated for the prestigious International Woolmark Prize.



A jewellery designer with a rough, eclectic sensibility and a striking sense of design, Ami Doshi Shah is the first Kenyan to be nominated for London Fashion Week’s 2018 International Fashion Showcase. Using a broad range of locally sourced materials — including crystal, copper, leather and rope — she creates powerful geometric pieces with a whimsical edge.

Rich Mnisi

Soweto-born designer Rich Mnisi only started his namesake brand three years ago, but has already proven himself a mercurial talent. Among his vast range of eclectic designs are sculptural dresses that look like art installations to more wearable knitted jumpers (pictured above). Bold in his use of colour and texture, and unafraid to embrace exaggerated forms, Mnisi is also a trailblazer for South Africa’s LGBT community.

Reform Studio

How do you create beautiful accessories and also solve your nation’s waste problem? Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem — founders of this Cairo-based design studio — think they’ve found the answer. They take discarded plastic bags and turn them into a material they’ve dubbed Plastex, which is used to make everything from quirky ankle boots to woven backpacks. Aside from tackling one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, the duo are also helping to restore Egypt’s weaving industry. The brand is going from strength to strength and last year collaborated with Ikea.

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