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The 5 most influential Africans in the global fashion industry

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The highly anticipated list of the 500 most influential people in fashion is officially out. The list published by fashion authority is an annual list of fashion influencers skillfully compiled with consultation from industry insiders. This year’s list has featured 5 Africans who are at the forefront of making moves in the global industry.

It’s sad that none of these is from Uganda but we are heading there.

1. Lupita Nyongo

Actor, Muse and brand ambassador (Kenya)


Lupita Nyongo

After her breakout role in the Oscar-winning movie ‘12 Years a Slave’, the Kenyan star became a formidable force in the fashion world in the shortest time there can be. Her much buzzed-about red carpet awards season made her a magazine favorite landing covers of almost all the major fashion glossies.

With this she amassed an enviable following on social media. Currently she’s the face of Miu Miu and Lancome. The fact that all this has happened in just a year makes her a real fashion influencer.

2. Alice Heusser & Olivia Kennaway,

co-founders, Lalesso (Kenya)


Alice Heusser & Olivia Kennaway

Having met at fashion school in Cape Town, the designer duo emphasises traditional East African craftsmanship and textiles.

Self-described ‘children of Africa’, Alice Heusser and Olivia Kennaway are fashion designers of the brand Lalesso, a luxury African fashion and lifestyle brand. The business model is transparent, sustainable, and relies on ethical production facilities in Kenya and South Africa. The duo met while studying fashion design in Cape Town, and were inspired by the colourful East African khanga cloth in rich, vibrant prints, and formed Lalesso after travelling to the remote island of Lamu, where coastal Swahili women wore the khanga cloth.

3. Tayo & Ayo Amusan

Chairman & Managing Director, Persians Group (Nigeria)

Ayo Amusan, Tayo Amusan & Tiwa Ukeje

Ayo Amusan, Tayo Amusan & Tiwa Ukeje

Through their mall interests and franchises including Hugo Boss, the couple have pioneered luxury retail in the Nigerian market.

“Tayo and Ayo Amusan are a couple with a vision to grow the Nigerian retail sector at a steady pace,” said Omoyemi Akerele. “Persianas [their development company] built the first mall of international standards in Nigeria and currently own five malls across Nigeria in Lagos, Ibadan, Kwara, Enugu and soon to be launched Abuja. The company’s retail arm has successfully launched franchises such as Hugo Boss and Lacoste.”

4. Omoyemi Akerele

Creative & Managing Director, Stylehouse Files (Nigeria)

Omoyemi Akerele

Omoyemi Akerele

The lawyer turned fashion consultant advises Nigerian fashion brands on positioning, retail and raising their profiles abroad.

Founder and artistic director of Style House Files, a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers, Omoyemi Akerele is widely regarded as a driving force behind the burgeoning Nigerian fashion industry. A pioneering agency in image consultancy and creative direction within the West African country, Style House Files works with Nigerian brands on brand positioning and retail strategies. Akerele also helps brands gain essential international exposure through presenting showcases at Pitti Immagine in Italy, and through Lagos Fashion and Design Week.

Founded by Akerele in 2011, LFDW runs a four day schedule featuring a select list of talented up and coming designers and fashion entrepreneurs. Partnered with the British Fashion Council, the show has been instrumental in raising the profile of the Nigerian fashion industry, and has drawn international attention and acclaim from journalists such as Suzy Menkes and Cristina Manfredi, as well as attracting a host of international buyers.

5. Ian Moir 

Chief Executive, Woolworths Holdings (South Africa)


Ian Moir

The veteran retailer leads South Africa’s largest department store and oversaw its acquisition of Australia’s David Jones chain.

Originally from Scotland, Ian Moir is the chief executive officer of Woolworths Holdings Ltd., a South African retail chain that extends throughout Africa  and into the Middle East, trading through over 400 stores. These include franchise stores, offering a selected range of clothing, food, homeware, beauty and financial services (in partnership with Absa Bank) under its own brand name in South Africa, Africa and the Middle East. It also operates 613 petrol canopies, 326 hotels, 26 hardware stores and 31 Masters stores. The company’s revenue in 2013 stood at $59.56 billion.

Wool worths has branches in Kampala and Nairobi.

Despite being regarded as frivolous, fashion is an industry worth trillions of dollars. The industry employs millions of people around the world in various platforms such as media companies, fashion brands, PR agencies to high street department stores.

This list includes designers such as Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Sarah Burton and models such as Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevigne and jourdan Dunn among others. Kanye West and David Beckham are also included. Interestingly pop icons Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian (pun intended)  and Beyonce are absent.

Head over to BusinessofFashion for the full list.

Source: BusinessofFashion

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