Picture: COLLECTION: ‘Zaouli’ by Ivorian designer Loza Maléombho (Spring/Summer 2016)
Abidjan,the largest city of Cote d’Ivoire ( Ivory Coast), has always been a mecca of fashion in Africa. Even though for the last 10 years, the fashion activities have slowed down in the metropolitan city of Abidjan due to the politico-military crisis, Abidjan remains one of the vibrant cities in the world in term of fashion creativity where you can some of the most talented young designers. Cote d’Ivoire as the rest of Africa, is also richly endowed with the raw materials, impressive talent and affordable labour that gives it the edge to build a multi-billion dollar luxury clothing and even footwear industry. It just need to be a well coordinated, and well organized sector with a PPP approach between the government and the private sector.
Abidjan in its high glorious days before the crisis, has played host to no fewer than 12 big fashion trade shows every year where many African designers were coming to present their works to the public of Abidjan. Several fashion nights were organized all across the beautiful city of Abidjan. Many high figure African designers such as Alphadi, Pathe’O, and many others,is from Abidjan that they have been worldwide recognized.
Today, the city of Abidjan endowed a lot of young talented designers who are working hard to make a name for themselves. Abidjan is coming back slowly to its initial path as the mecca of fashion shows in Africa. The African designers from Cote d’Ivoire are known for making extraordinary designs with always the African root with the mixture of the “modernization”. They value the African fabrics ( the rich Kita, pagne, Kente clothes,etc…). We have young talented designs such as my Ivorian sister designer by the name of Pathy who uses our rich and delicate Yacouba, and Wê “ethnic” fabrics by doing some unique, and beautifully made embroidered clothes, handbags,and footwear products. The fabrics she uses to make her designs are 100% made by hands locally sourced in the region of Man, Facobly, and Duékoué.
The unique preferences, tastes and cultural environment of the Ivorian and west African consumers have served the Ivorian designers as aspiration needed to make uniquely African value proposition designs. Abidjan can go further than its current recognition in term of fashion. It is a matter of good investment in the fashion industry. A lot of of luxury African contemporary brands can be nurtured from Abidjan due to the immense pool of talented young designers. They really make clothes that truly complement your feature. Our fashion and beauty ideals are driven by strong sense of cultural and valuable affinities and high appreciation of African aesthetics by producing very good luxury quality products.
More fashion events will be launched in near future in Abidjan with the participation of many young talented designs from Abidjan, and from others African countries. Those upcoming fashion events are to showcase the super creative talent of young designers at the same time expose the Abidjan’s emerging fashion industry. There is an untapped growth in term of fashion in Cote d’Ivoire and others African countries that is not fully leveraged yet. Abidjan is the place where all the talented African designers can come together and seize those opportunities where we can create a potential growing African luxury market for the African and international audience.
By Nimba Monnemu Tokpa, CEO and Creative Director of NIMBA ( An Abidjan-based luxury clothing company). He is also an African Market Development Specialist.