The third edition of the African Fashion Week London AFWL ended over the weekend at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick lane London. Probably because of the location, attendance was not as impressive as the 20.000 people who attended the show when it took place in an open location, at the London Spitafields market in 2012.
There were designers from a number of African countries including Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa. The South African government sponsored a high powered 9 person delegation from the country, the only African government that did so.
Events included catwalks and exhibitions from thursday August 1-3 2013.
Iroko Africa interviewed a number of designers and will be publishing a special African designer series of interviews in the coming days.
We kick start the series with a brief chat with Nigerian born CEO and founder of AFWL Ronke Ademiluyi. Francis Ngwa Put the questions.
Why did you decide to begin an African fashion show in London?
That’s the one million dollar question everybody keeps asking me. It is a platform, an initiative I started in 2011, and the reason behind it was to offer an affordable platform to established and emerging African inspired designers. We did our first event in 2011, it was a success, second one in 2012 and this is our third edition.
Q Three years down the line, what will you say you have achieved so far?
According to the feedback we have got from a lot of our designers, for most of them the African fashion week London (AFWL) was the first time they had ever showcased on the runway; so it’s been a lot of positive feedback. The designers have had some global and national coverage from the local and international press. So I will say the experience has been positive and worthwhile.
Q Any negative feedback so far?
I haven’t heard any negative reactions to the event
Q I have been talking to some designers who think there has been a problem with turnout for this third edition possibly because of the location. Fewer people came than was the case last year.
You probably have been talking to exhibitors and not designers. As i said, all the designers said they enjoyed the experience.
Q Generally, what are some of the organizational difficulties you face putting a huge show like this together?
In most cases it is finance because we don’t get any sponsorship from the UK. Most of our funding comes from Africa. So mainly it is finance, we are in our third year so some possible sponsors are watching to see what the event is all about . They probably want to make sure it is a sustainable event and not the type that comes today and dissapears tommorow like a lot of African events.
Until they are comfortable with that, that is when mainstream corporation bodies will start associating with the event.
Q What is it about African designs, African clothing that is getting so big these days and there is a lot of buzz around it on the international fashion market?
I think it is the bold colours, I think it is the print. It is the bright colours and everyone is just buying into it.
Q Why is Ronke doing this, what background do you have in the fashion industry to think you are in a pole position to organize an African fashion show in London?
I am just passionate about African fashion and I will like it to grow to an international level. I want it to be globally recognized.
Q Where do you think AFWL will be in ten years time?
In ten years time, we are hoping to take it around the world. We will want to develop it into a global road show for all African inspired designers.
Q How will you describe African designs to someone who is new to it?
Come and look at the creativity of our designers, come and see the vibrant colours, come and support African inspired designers.
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