5 incredible African designers to have on your radar

Jan 7, 2016 at 11:00 p.m. ET

When color, texture and patterns collide, the result can be stunning. That’s why African-inspired design extends far beyond season, and everyone from Beyoncé to Lupita Nyong’o rock these rainbows of fabric. Bold splashes of color give even the gloomiest fall days flair. Geometric patterned pencil skirts, hand woven clutches and detailed peplum waists display the masterfulness of diverse designs.

There’s also the rich history. For many designers inspired by the African continent, it’s about more than just bright colors. Pieces celebrate the legacy of their parents, culture and interpretation of the future through design.

Here are five African-inspired fashion lines bringing life to runways and street corners.


Demestik Naomi II Top
Image: Demestik

Demestik uses Ankara and Holland wax cotton in a way that is less traditional in African clothing and more Western in design. Colorful patterns splash their way across pencil skirts and peplum tops. The line’s creator, New York-based designer Reuben Reuel, takes his inspiration from color and women. Which women to be exact? Well, for one, Beyoncé, who has rocked his pieces on her Instagram account on several occasions. Demestik Naomi II Top (Demestik, $140)

Demestik Ramonde II Skirt
Image: Demestik

Demestik Ramonde II Skirt (Demestik, $110)

Demestik Diane Maxi Dress
Image: Demestik

Demestik Diane Maxi Dress (Demestik, $298)

Andrea Iyamah

Marrak One-Piece Swimsuit
Image: Andrea Iyamah

It’s easy to turn heads and make a splash at the beach if you’re wearing A.I. The swimwear line is perfect for any winter beach getaway: vibrant colors, sexy symmetry, and flattering shapes for all body types. Nigerian-born Andrea Iyamah draws inspiration from her country’s rich symbols and stories. “The brand’s aesthetic is to always give a hint of edge while using cuts and patterns that embrace the feminine figure,” she says. “Color is a strong part of our message for the brand so its important to not only use colors that fit a style but also enhances the meaning.” Mehzu Bikini (Andrea Iyamah, $131.22 (was $187.44)

Marrak One-Piece Swimsuit
Image: Andrea Iymah

Marrak One-Piece Swimsuit (Andrea Iyamah, $143.64 (was $205.20)

Khira Bikini
Image: Andrea Iyamah

Khira Bikini (Andrea Iyamah, $99.46 (was $142.08)

Suakoko Betty

Suakoko Betty Enoh Nip Dress
Image: Suakoko Betty

With her fashion line Suakoko Betty, Charlene Dunbar makes effortless, everyday wear that pops with color. The line celebrates African identity and culture with modern prints. “I love how African design is shorthand for ‘home,'” says Dunbar, who named the line after her father’s hometown in Liberia. “As someone who left Liberia at a young age, seeing [African design] and wearing it triggers a sense of identity and pride.” Suakoko Betty Enoh Nip Dress (Suakoko Betty, $149)

Bae Shirt and Lexi Jogger
Image: Suakoko Betty

Bae Shirt (Suakoko Betty, $94)

Lexi Jogger (Suakoko Betty, $89)

Suakoko Betty Chelsea Tunic
Image: Suakoko Betty

Suakoko Betty Chelsea Tunic (Suakoko Betty, $124.00)

William Okpo

William Okpo Double Layer Pant
Image: William Okpo

William Okpo is less about bold colors and more about voluminous, functional comfort. Bronx-born sisters Lizzie and Darlene Okpo celebrate their Nigerian parents’ style mixed with American culture with the fashion line—named after their father William. Stars including Solange have modeled for the line. Their flagship store is in downtown Manhattan. William Okpo Double Layer Pant (William Okpo, $375)

William Okpo Nia Pia Skirt
Image: William Okpo

William Okpo Nia Pia Skirt (William Okpo, $300)

William Okpo Xena Skirt
Image: William Okpo Xena Skirt

William Okpo Xena Skirt (William Okpo, $305)


Manni Marine
Image: AAKS

There’s nothing quite like a hand crafted bag that makes a statement with color, especially during the winter months. Ghana native Akosua Afriyie-Kumi’s handbag collection, AAKS, uses organically-sourced leather and raffia produced by weavers in the village of Bolgatanga, Ghana. AAKS can be purchased in Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Reformation, among other major retailers. Manni Marine (AAKS, $192)

Pins Bucket
Image: AAKS

Pins Bucket (AAKS, $151.75)

Are Clutch
Image: AAKS

Are Clutch (AAKS,$48.50)

Originally posted on StyleCaster.com