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Generation Africa at Pitti Immagine Uomo

Yesterday at Pitti Immagine Uomo 89 in Florence, the Fondazione Pitti Discovery and ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative held a runway show “Generation Africa”. With a focus on fashion from Africa, this unique platform promoted young and talented fashion designers from the continent, and showed the energy of today’s African creative scene.

“Generation Africa is the chance to open a new window on one of today‘s most creative scenes” says Lapo Cianchi, head of Special Projects at Pitti Immagine

Ikiré Jones backstage at Generation Africa (c) Trevor Stuurman (124)

Ikiré Jones backstage at Generation Africa (c) Trevor Stuurman (124)

The show featured four brands already known on the international market that present different facets of the African continent and who focus on manufacturing in their home countries. AKJP, Ikiré Jones, Lukhanyo Mdinigi x Nicholas Coutts and U.Mi-1 all presented their Autumn/Winter 2016-17 men’s collections.

“We continue our collaboration with Pitti Immagine to showcase the creativity of Africa. We want to convey a different image of the continent, one of innovation and diversity with a strong youthful energy for positive change. Pitti Uomo is the perfect platform for the designers to express their vision and show that Africa means serious business.” says Simone Cipriani, Head and Founder of the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.

For Generation Africa, the Ethical Fashion Initiative partnered with the Italian association, Lai-momo which welcomes asylum-seekers in Italy and promotes cross-cultural exchanges between Africa and Europe with the aim of reducing stereotypes and preconceptions. As part of a joint effort by EFI, Lai-momo and Pitti Immagine to raise awareness on migration, three asylum seekers modelled for the show, giving them an opportunity to earn a wage and be part of an empowering international event celebrating creativity from Africa. Continuously striving to improve diversity in the fashion industry, the Ethical Fashion Initiative aims to demonstrate fashion’s capacity to support the betterment of society.

Generation Africa Backstage (c) Trevor Stuurman (188)

Generation Africa Backstage (c) Trevor Stuurman (188)

The Ethical Fashion Initiative is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. The Ethical Fashion Initiative links the world’s top fashion talents to marginalised artisans – the majority of them women – in East and West Africa, Haiti and the West Bank. The Initiative has been connecting artisans to the global fashion supply chain since 2009. The Ethical Fashion Initiative also works with the rising generation of fashion talent from Africa, encouraging the forging of fulfilling creative collaborations with artisans on the continent. Under its slogan, “Not Charity, Just Work” the Ethical Fashion Initiative advocates a fairer global fashion industry.

The four participating brands were:

AKJP // Keith Henning & Jody Paulsen, South Africa

AKJP Finale Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

AKJP Finale Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

AKJP (Adriaan Kuiters + Jody Paulsen) is a menswear and womenswear brand founded by South African designer duo, Keith Henning and Jody Paulsen. AKJP‘s signature is its artful contemporary twist on classic and utilitarian menswear. The development of strong prints and sports-inspired motifs for each collection has become core to AKJP. AKJP uses layering, boxy silhouettes and asymmetrical detailing as a signature styling feature. AKJP has been recognised as one of South Africa’s most innovative brands, bringing contemporary and cool to the South African fashion landscape. In 2015, AKJP was one of the finalists at Vogue Italia’s Who Is On Next? Dubai.

IKIRÉ JONES // Walé Oyéjidé, USA & Nigeria

Ikiré Jones Look 10 Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

Ikiré Jones Look 10 Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

Ikiré Jones (pronounced “E-kee-rae Jones”) is a menswear company that marries African aesthetics with classic art from all over the world. Each of the brand’s pieces tells a contemporary story by using historical artwork as a medium for modern expression. With every collection, the brand places a strong emphasis on societal issues that affect immigrant and transient populations across the globe. Importantly, Ikiré Jones seeks to properly introduce modern African culture to the world. Through clothing, Ikiré Jones seeks to weave together a tighter global community. The brand’s tailoring is done in the United States, and its accessories are printed and hand-rolled in Macclesfield, United Kingdom.

LUKHANYO MDINGI x NICHOLAS COUTTS // Lukhanyo Mdingi & Nicholas Coutts, South Africa

Lukhanyo Mdingi x Nicholas Coutts Look 04 Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

Lukhanyo Mdingi x Nicholas Coutts Look 04 Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

South African designers Lukhanyo Mdingi and Nicholas Coutts collaborate on this Autumn/Winter 2016-17 collection to illuminate each other’s aesthetics. The design partnership combines Mdingi’s minimalist approach with Coutts’ distinctive signature weaving style. Together, the designers create a menswear collection that embodies strength, empowerment and contemporary sophistication.

Lukhanyo Mdingi interprets minimal aesthetics with his clothing, finding the balance between line, form and texture. Mdingi creates minimal looks that are distinct and powerful, with a flare of contemporary elegance and sophistication. Nicholas Coutts’ signature is creating garments that are textured and uses fabrication to create a pleasing contrasting visual. Influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement, Coutts specialises in using handwoven fabrics and hand knitted items.

U.Mi-1 // Gozi Ochonogor, Nigeria & UK

U.Mi-1 Finale Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

U.Mi-1 Finale Generation Africa © Giovanni Giannoni

U.Mi-1 (pronounced you.me.one) is a contemporary brand for the modern cool man. It tells a different side of the African fashion story with collections inspired by Nigerian culture, architecture and art. Headed by Nigerian designer Gozi Ochonogor who calls London, Tokyo and Lagos her homes, U.Mi-1 collections are a blend of British tailoring aesthetic with the hallmark of Japanese artisanship and African spirit, delivering innovative designs and quality. Best described as tailoring with a twist, U.Mi-1 focuses on style, comfort and quality with interesting detailing that the wearer discovers anew.

“Constellation Africa” show at Pitti Uomo

Ethical Fashion Initiative is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. The Initiative links the world’s top fashion talents to marginalised artisans – the majority of them women – in East and West Africa, Haiti and the West Bank. Active since 2009, the Initiative enables artisans living in urban and rural poverty to connect with the global fashion chain. The Ethical Fashion Initiative also enables Africa’s rising generation of fashion talent to forge environmentally sound, sustainable and fulfilling creative collaborations with local artisans.Under its slogan, “NOT CHARITY, JUST WORK.” the Ethical Fashion Initiative advocates a fairer global fashion industry.

Over the past few seasons the Fondazione Pitti Discovery has been setting aside a special area for the rising stars on the world’s economic and creative stage with the Guest Nation project. This edition, in cooperation with the ITCEthical Fashion Initiative, focussed on fashion from Africa with a special event “Constellation Africa”, to promote young and talented designers from the continent.

“I believe that Pitti Uomo is the best platform to showcase these innovative designers from Africa, the continent which hosts the future of fashion and couture“, says Simone Cipriani, Head and Founder of the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative. “The richness of materials and the beauty of their designs are truly unique. This is where our global society is going: interconnectedness. Global and local dimensions brought together through fashion“.

The four participating brands were:

ORANGE CULTURE // Adebayo Oke-Lawal from Nigeria

Orange Culture is a contemporary menswear brand created by Nigerian designer Adebayo OkeLawal in 2011. The brand combines classic and contemporary western silhouettes with an African edge. Orange Culture fuses Nigerian silhouettes, print fabrics and contemporary urban streetwear. Orange Culture is more than a clothing line, it is a “movement” for a creative class of men that are “self-aware, expressive, explorative and art-loving nomads”. Orange culture has been featured by top fashion magazines and was recently shortlisted by Vogue Talents for Africa and LVMH’s 2014 Young Fashion Designer Prize.

Orange Culture SS16 - Constellation Africa - EFI x Pitti © Pitti Immagine & Giovanni Giannoni (12)

Orange Culture SS16 - Constellation Africa - EFI x Pitti © Pitti Immagine & Giovanni Giannoni (12)

MaXhosa by Laduma // Laduma Ngxokolo from South Africa
MaXhosa by Laduma is a South African knitwear brand founded in 2010 by Laduma Ngxokolo. The South African Xhosa manhood initiation ritual practiced by amakrwala was behind the launch of the brand as Laduma sought to create Xhosa-inspired modern knitwear that would be suitable for this tradition. Since, the Xhosa aesthetic has come to be part of the DNA of the knitwear brand as Laduma has explored and reinterpreted traditional Xhosa beadwork, patterns, symbolism and colours to inspire his modern knitwear line. Through his work, Laduma is an agent of change, shifting and evolving with the changing times and further engaging in the dialogue that keeps pushing traditional culture toward the future.

MaXhosa by Laduma SS16 - Constellation Africa - Pitti x EFI © Pitti Immagine Giovanni Giannoni (10)

MaXhosa by Laduma SS16 - Constellation Africa - Pitti x EFI © Pitti Immagine Giovanni Giannoni (10)

PROJECTO MENTAL // Tekasala Ma’at Nzinga & Shunnoz Fiel from Angola
Projecto Mental is an Angolan fashion brand, founded in 2004 by creative duo Shunnoz Fiel & Tekasala Ma’at Nzinga, which fuses fashion and art. The brand was created in the aftermath of the civil war as a platform to help reshape Angola’s cultural identity, after the country was ravaged by decades of civil war. Suits with an experimental twist are the signature item of the Projecto Mental brand. Projecto Mental takes an avant-garde approach to tailoring as the designers re-imagine and re-invent the traditional suit for men and women. Strong block colours combined with prints & patterns bring boldness to each design.

Projecto Mental SS16 - Constellation Africa - EFI x Pitti © Pitti Immagine & Giovanni Giannoni (7)

Projecto Mental SS16 - Constellation Africa - EFI x Pitti © Pitti Immagine & Giovanni Giannoni (7)

DENT DE MAN // Alexis Temomanin from Ivory Coast & UK
Dent de Man is a menswear brand created in 2012 by British-Ivorian designer, Alexis Temomanin. Dent de Man’s approach to luxury style is defined by a mix of classic tailoring with colourful patterned fabric. The Dent de Man lifestyle is defined by freedom, quality and “esthétisme”, empowering individuals to dress for themselves. Self-expression is core to Dent de Man’s philosophy. The brand prides itself on the use of vintage fabrics and celebration of ancient printing techniques, Dent de Man adapts decadent and bold Java prints forming unique garments that allow individuals to own distinctive and irreplaceable pieces. All Dent de Man fabric is carefully sourced and possesses its own story and meaning.

Dent de Man SS16 - Constellation Africa - EFI x Pitti © Pitti Immagine & Giovanni Giannoni (6)

Dent de Man SS16 - Constellation Africa - EFI x Pitti © Pitti Immagine & Giovanni Giannoni (6)

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