5 Types of African Fashion Designers Based on Your Budget

Many Africans know a fellow African tailor to design our one-of-a-kind outfits that are intended for the purpose of turning heads – It’s no wonder Africans have taken to print patterns. Now, it is commonly believed that the more money you are willing to spend the better the final product – this is rule does not always follow. As such, we have dubbed this post #thereAreLevelsToThis. Here is a breakdown of what you can generally expect based on how deep your pockets are.

1. The Local Tailor

Local African tailor / Pinterest

We start with the local tailor who has possibly existed as long as African myths have. This tailor is relatively cheap, skilled and probably learned the trade through an apprenticeship. You can find them in open-air markets or a little shack that almost certainly doesn’t have a traceable address. The easiest way to spot this tailor is by the skirt and blouse style hanged for display outside of their shop. Generally, this tailor is good and will have you looking presentable but you will not be the star of the occasion. However, don’t try to beat the system by bringing this tailor a sample outfit or picture to copy from because your version will end up being too long, too short, too roomy in all the wrong places or over-embellished with extra “designs” you didn’t ask for. Many have had luck finding a good local tailor by trial and error. Your best bet, however, is having a good friend refer you to their trusted local tailor.

2. The Side-Hustle Tailor

Side-hustle African tailor / 123RF

This African tailor may also be known as “your friend that sews.” This person is usually a friend who picked up fashion design because they decided that a career in Medicine or Engineering just wasn’t suited – of course they only made this decision after graduating university. Regardless, what is important is that “your friend that sews” is hip – they know what looks cool and they desire your star-status just as much as you do. “Your friend that sews” is affordable or possibly free because they are first and foremost your friend. The only issue is that your friend does not have any formal training in fashion design. For you, this means that a design that looked good on paper may not always pan out in reality – hems may be unfinished, linings may be missing, bodices awkwardly tight or loose or what not. Keep in mind that the side hustle tailor is ambitious, so if you stick with them long enough you might just reap real rewards.


3. The Insta Famous Designer

Insta-famous African tailor / 123RF

This designer used to be “your friend that sews” but then they got serious about fashion designer and decided to go fashion school. Now, they design and produce full-fledged collections and showcase their collections at various indie fashion shows. They also have a couple thousand social media followers and have started to get a real buzz. Their products look well-fitted and properly finished but their price tags have also gotten a nice healthy bump. You now face two problems – their prices are slightly outside of your price range and products always seem to be “sold out” but you don’t know how to purchase the clothes… Online store? Instagram? Whatsapp? Text message? Email? No one really knows.

4. The Online Store Designer

Online store African designer / 123RF

This designer is famous the world over because they have brought the convenience of African fashion to your doorstep. These are the designers responsible for fitting all the “Wakanda-themed” outfits during the Black Panther screening craze. These designers have also modernized African fashion as they are on the forefront of contemporary African style. Their designs are cutting edge because they are intended to have mass appeal for audiences around the globe. The online store designer also has a strong social media presence with a chic [or wannabe chic] website and “About” page detailing the culture and history behind their designs. Some issues you might face with this designer are 1) that you cannot justify paying so much for “African fashion” when you strongly believe that your local tailor can make it (this is not true) 2) their website only partially works and you may not be able to guarantee that you weren’t charged four times 3) you are not really sure whether the “designer” made the clothes or if they simply commissioned a local tailor and have now jacked up the prices.



5. The Fashion Week Designer

Fashion week African designer / 123RF

This designer probably studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City or Paris or some other boogie place. They are world class designers and have shown their collections on some of the biggest runways such as Lagos Fashion Week and Mercedes Benz fashion week in New York. This designer is one you can no longer dream of being able to afford. Instead, the daughter of your country’s President will have her wedding dress custom-made by this designer and then casually flaunt her wealth in wedding photos. Additionally, you cannot understand who in the world can afford to purchase these designers’ clothes but secretly hope that one day you will be amongst the ranks of those who can.

6. Bonus – The Truly International Designer

African truly international designer / 123RF

We have added a bonus designer. Most importantly, this is a designer we have yet to see. One who clothes are worn around the world by everyone from commoners to the slay queens. This designer makes fashion is that is trendy and affordable but can also be high-end for those who desire it. Their clothes are designer AND produced somewhere on the African continent, and then exported to the world. This designer has a reliable online store as well as physical stores located in cities around the world, from Marrakech to Johannesburg to London to Tokyo. They have penetrated the global fashion market and have transformed “African fashion” to “everybody’s fashion” – and this designer has no plan to stop until they have achieved total world domination.

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