See the 11 Designers to Keep an Eye Out For at GTCO Fashion Weekend 2023
The Guaranty Trust Fashion Weekend, founded in 2016, has evolved into a prominent platform for spotlighting Africa’s finest talents and fostering small businesses in the fashion industry. This year’s event, slated for November 11th and 12th, 2023, will bring together global fashion leaders and industry experts. It offers a valuable opportunity for hundreds of local fashion enterprises to expand their online presence, tap into new markets, and position themselves for sustained growth.
Additionally, the 2023 Guaranty Trust Fashion Weekend will feature a series of online masterclasses led by esteemed experts from the fashion industry. These masterclasses, tailored for entrepreneurs and fashion enthusiasts, will provide valuable insights into building and sustaining fashion brands in the present and future. The event will also maintain the highly anticipated Runway Show, showcasing a curated collection of bold and captivating fashion statements by Africa’s finest brands.
This year’s event will feature a variety of designers, including Banke Kuku, Ejiro Amos-Tafiri, Sergio Hudson, Duaba Serwa, and Duaba Serwa, among others.
Born in the mid-80s, it was clear from a young age that Sergio had a calling in the world of fashion. Therefore, it came as no surprise when he pursued a Design education at Bauder College. In 2014, Sergio unveiled his eponymous ready-to-wear line, characterized by flawless tailoring and a fusion of androgynous elements with seductive silhouettes. Sergio Hudson’s collections comprise breathtaking statement pieces and essential wardrobe staples, all crafted to empower women, evoking feelings of beauty, fearlessness, glamour, confidence, and allure.
He recently had the privilege of dressing both former First Lady Michelle Obama and the current Vice President for their respective inaugurations, earning the cover spot of Essence‘s September Issue.
Banke Kuku is a true visionary in the realm of fashion and design. Her creations have reached far and wide, resonating with a global audience through both local and international retailers.
Prior to launching her eponymous label, Banke honed her craft at prestigious international fashion houses. Notably, she lent her artistic flair to the Designers Guild, where she contributed to the creation of fabrics for the Royal collection showcased at Buckingham Palace.
Going beyond the confines of fashion, Banke’s interior design endeavours garnered attention from illustrious clients, including Selfridges, Aynhoe Park Hotel, Le Bon Marché, and Bazar et Grande Manger. Her opulent loungewear collection is a reflection of her culturally diverse experiences in both London and Lagos, resulting in bold patterns that make a striking statement.
Banke’s journey stands as a testament to her seamless blend of talent, devotion, and boundless creativity in the world of design.
Huishan Zhang, a designer born in China and trained in Dior haute couture, began making a mark even before completing his BA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins in London.
Drawing significant influence from his Chinese heritage, especially the craftsmanship and design elements of his homeland, Zhang infuses these initial inspirations with a global perspective to create elegantly feminine silhouettes.
In 2013, he secured the now-defunct Dorchester Collective Fashion Prize, and just two years prior, he had launched his own label.
His inaugural collection in 2011 was picked up by Browns, the same boutique that featured the debut collections of John Galliano and Hussein Chalayan. Zhang expressed his ambition to establish the next premier luxury Chinese lifestyle brand, transcending the realm of fashion.
Ejiro Amos-Tafiri is the driving force behind @ejiroamostafiri, a Nigerian women’s fashion brand that harmoniously blends traditional African attire with intricate modern garment construction techniques. Launched in 2010, the brand’s inception followed the Creative Director’s tenure at Out of Africa, Zizi Ethnic Clothing, and Tiffany Amber. It was through this journey that she breathed new life into the Iro and Buba ensemble, birthing the iconic Oleku outfit.
Ejiro pursued her Fashion education at Yaba College of Technology, where she earned the prestigious Best Student Award. As an accomplished artist, she has collaborated with esteemed names like Samsung, Vlisco, Belvedere, British Council, Lagos Fashion Week, and Paris Fashion Week, serving as both Designer and Brand Ambassador. Her brand has ascended the ranks of emerging labels in the ever-evolving fashion landscape. Ejiro Amos-Tafiri has presented her collections at Fashion Shows in America, Europe, and various African countries.
Founded in 2016, Theophilio, led by Jamaican-American designer Edvin Thompson, seamlessly blends Jamaican heritage with Brooklyn’s urban vitality. Thompson’s commitment to sustainability is evident in the brand’s thoughtfully curated collection, featuring items like flared leather trousers, relaxed denim, intricately printed T-shirts, crochet dresses, and vibrant mesh tops, all crafted from conscientiously sourced materials.
More than just clothing, Theophilio embodies a dynamic story of empowerment and self-expression, deeply rooted in Thompson’s Jamaican heritage. With a personal touch, he weaves together a fusion of cultures in each creation, encouraging wearers to embrace bold individuality and wear a tapestry of diverse aspirations.
Mariam Afolabi Badmus embarked on her fashion journey fueled by a passion for art.
Having pursued a degree in Law, the creative force behind Mazelle eventually returned to Nigeria to forge her own path in the fashion industry. She is widely recognized for her celebrated womenswear label, Mazelle.
Drawing consistent inspiration from African heritage and popular culture, Mazelle crafts pieces that offer a nostalgic voyage into the past.
Previous collections from Mazelle have showcased a fusion of Adire patterns with sharp, contemporary silhouettes. These designs often incorporate sequins, shimmering fabrics, femme-inspired textiles, and a skilful application of hand-beaded embellishments onto premium fabrics.
Duaba’s creations prioritize both comfort and simplicity, characterized by seamless lines and a vibrant colour palette, all crafted from premium materials.
Duaba Serwa has become renowned for her expertise in origami folds, triangular pleats, and smockwork, showcasing luxurious silks, handwoven fabrics, tie-dyes, and batiks. Notably, a Duaba Serwa dress graced the cover of Vanity Fair’s Annual Hollywood issue in February 2021, reaffirming the brand’s commitment to Slow Fashion and sustainable, high-end craftsmanship.
The esteemed global textiles powerhouse, VLISCO, hand-selected Duaba Serwa to spearhead a collection for their quarterly international campaign. The collaboration was met with such acclaim that Duaba went on to design the subsequent two collections for them.
The pinnacle of years of dedicated work came to fruition in 2022 when Duaba co-designed a gown alongside Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o for Ms. Tina Knowles‘ Wearable Art Gala.
Founded by Patience Torlowei in 2006 in Brussels, TORLOWEI is a luxury ready-to-wear brand infused with a lingerie-inspired touch. Patience initially established Patience Torlowei BVBA, specializing in bridal wear.
Within just two years, the brand expanded to supply wedding and cocktail dresses to six European countries, all meticulously crafted in her Belgian garage.
In 2008, recognizing the demand for wedding lingerie, TORLOWEI further diversified its offerings. Fast forward to 2014, and Patience’s masterpiece, “The Esther dress,” earned a place in the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection in Washington DC, marking a historic moment as the first couture piece from the National Museum of African Art.
TORLOWEI’s exquisite creations have graced dignitaries like Ghanaian First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, as well as notable figures such as DJ Cuppy Otedola, Naomi Campbell, and many more. This pioneering brand made history as the first black-owned label featured in Harrods’ lingerie section and is also available at McMullen in California.
Twin brothers Bruce and Glen shared a love for fashion that has been a lifelong passion, cultivated long before they even knew what to label it. Their formal foray into the fashion world commenced at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania. Here, they immersed themselves in the intricacies of the fashion business, gaining insight into essential elements like merchandising, the concept that the fashion figure is 9 heads tall, and the art of pattern drafting. While Glen honed his expertise in fashion merchandising and business marketing, Bruce pursued his calling in fashion design.
Their impressive track record includes the creation and launch of celebrity brands for renowned icons such as Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Trey Songz, and Diddy. In 2019, they shifted their focus towards accessories, achieving significant acclaim for their exceptional bag collection, especially amid the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Then, in 2021, they unveiled a sustainable clothing line that surpassed even the success of their initial handbag venture. Their collections are characterized by their boldness, vibrancy, and inclusivity, igniting conversations and inviting everyone to partake in their fashion odyssey.
Born in Brazil and raised between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States, Loza embarked on her design journey at the young age of 13. She furthered her education by earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation from the University of the Arts of Philadelphia in 2006. Following internships with esteemed fashion designers in New York City, she took the bold step of establishing her own brand in 2009.
Currently situated in Côte d’Ivoire, Loza Maléombho’s fashion ethos seamlessly fuses traditional African aesthetics with a modern, contemporary flair.
Omar Salam, a graduate of Parsons School of Design, embarked on his career at Sonia Rykiel in Paris. He eventually rose to the position of Visual Director in New York. Drawing from invaluable experiences at Sonia Rykiel and Christian Lacroix, he founded his own fashion house, SUKEINA, in 2012. The brand is a tribute to his late mother, symbolizing a “bright light.”
Driven by a desire to empower women and influenced by his distinct perspective, Salam’s fashion is characterized by its progressive, innovative, powerful, yet elegantly refined aesthetic.
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